Considerations With ESD Testing Equipment

When testing for ESD or electrostatic discharge, specific types of tests will need to be completed based on the end use of the device or component. The electrostatic discharge is a strong instant electric current that moves between two objects. These objects have a different electrical potential to allow the current to flow.

Everyone has experienced an ESD event. It is most common in the winter when the air is very dry. Walking across a carpeted area and then touching an object creates a “spark” or a “shock,” which is more correctly known as electrostatic discharge.

When the second object has electronic components, the ESD can impact the circuits and system. This can result in performance issues or complete component failure, which in turn prevents the entire system, device or piece of equipment from operating if it is an essential component.

As there are many different types or models of tests, there are different types of ESD testing equipment on the market. Understanding the testing requirements for a specific component or device is the first step in determining which equipment is the best choice.

Models and Testing Options

The test most often used for consumer electronics and electronic equipment is the Human Body Model test. This is a device level test and simulates the scenario described above where a human makes contact with a device, and the electrostatic discharge flows from the person to the device. In this case, the ESD testing equipment mimics the electric current with this type of ESD event.

For devices used in automated systems, there is also the Machine Model test. With this testing option the electrical current that builds up when machines or equipment power on is replaced. If these machines touch other machines, it is possible for the ESD to cause failure in the system.

There are other types of ESD testing equipment options as well. Knowing the specific testing models required and if testing is at the component or device level will be critical for selection of the best equipment.

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