Technicians regularly use anti-static wrist straps when they are building computers. These straps are also commonly referred to as ground bracelets and ESD wrist straps, which is something you have probably seen if you watch YouTube tutorials. They are a necessity to ensure that the difference in voltage between the computer and your body is balanced out, therefore preventing any potentially damaging Electrostatic Discharges from happening.
In fact, these wrist straps are used in any sort of activity whereby there is electrostatic discharge. You want to avoid this as much as possible, as even the smallest amount of ESD could cause irreparable damage to your electrical components or hardware, rending them useless. The last thing you want to happen to your new graphics card, or even worse, your motherboard is to install them in your computer to find that they have been fried by a tiny burst of electrical energy.
With that being said, if you work in the electronics industry or you have any sort of hobbies that fall into these areas, continue reading to find out exactly how to use an anti-static wrist strap. This should help you to determine the best solution for you, and you will also discover more about anti-static ankle straps.
The first thing you need to realise is that there are actually two different ways that you can utilise an anti-static wrist strap in order to protect you and your equipment from sudden electrical discharges. These are as follows:
The first option is bonding, which may seem more convenient because it involves using the wrist strap on its own, but it is advisable to opt for grounding if you are going to be coming into contact with electronic items on a regular basis. Nevertheless, let’s explain how bonding works.
Bonding involves connecting the user to the machine that they are working on. This means that your body is essentially going to be put at the same voltage potential as your entire computer. This means there the possible static discharge is eliminated.
This is the other option you can make the most of if you need to use an anti-static mat. With this option, instead of connecting only to a PC for the purpose of balancing the voltage, you drain the charges directly to the Earth.
You do this using an anti-static mat, commonly known as a bench mat, which has been especially designed. With bonding, the user needs a cable and a wrist strap to connect the user to the device. However, with grounding, an anti-static mat will connect the components and the user to the grounding point, which is typically a plug socket.
These set-ups are recommended for those who work with electrical components daily, especially if you have a lot of cost involved. For example, if your job involves working with satellites, you should most certainly go down this route to protect the equipment you work with.
You will also need to go for this option if you work with a laptop or there is any other sort of reason why you cannot bond yourself to the machine that you are using.
It is important to note that the exact method of connection you will use for grounding does depend on the model of mat you have purchased. With that being said, you should always refer to the instructions before you start the connection process. Make sure you read them carefully so you do not make any mistakes. In some cases, cables will be provided and you will receive crocodile clips to so that you can connect both the mat and the wrist strip directly to the PC that you are using.
There are other systems, such as the ones that we sell here at First Mats, which require you to connect your wristband to a connection point on the mat. This will also be connected to a specially designed plug socket or a Common Ground Point. The materials utilised enable static to flow through them, which means that all of the electrical components are earthed merely by making contact with the surface of the mat.
It is also worth noting that you have another option available to you, and this is an anti-static ankle strap. These straps are suitable for those who stand on an anti-static mat, as opposed to using one on a bench.
This is common when workers need to be mobile in a work area and, therefore, a grounding cable would merely get in the way. Moreover, they are often using in operating theatres, whereby explosive anaesthetic gases and oxygen are utilised. If this is the case, you can use an anti-static mat to ground yourself. These will ensure that static is safely discharged by connecting a strap to your ankle, which will then dissipate static charges through the mat’s conductive surface. The charge will then be drained away in a safe manner by utilising a grounding point.
Hopefully, you now have a better understanding regarding the different ways that you can use your anti-static wrist strap. While you can use it without a mat, most technicians prefer to go for the option of grounding, as this is much more suitable for people that are using electronic components on a daily basis. There are plenty of great videos online you can refer to as well if you want to see an anti-static wrist strap in action to make sure you are using it properly.
More information: Anti-Static Mats and Accessories