ESD Bag vs. Anti-Static Bag: What is the Difference and What is the Best Choice for Your Cleanroom Needs

The problematic terminology around anti-static, static-shielding, and static dissipative bags creates confusion among buyers. The lack of understanding of what each means might lead to choosing the wrong packaging for our products, resulting in failures or damages. It is critical to know that these terms are not the same and should not be observed as such.

Static shielding bags have anti-static properties that stop the static electricity buildup and protect from electrostatic discharge (ESD). Static shielding bags consist of multi-layer materials that create a Faraday cage capable of protecting components from ESD. However, they should not be confused with what we call anti-static bags. Unlike anti-static packaging, static shielding bags safeguard components both inside and outside the bag.

The right packaging choice will depend on your specific needs and purposes. Electronic components such as circuit boards, sound cards, and hard drives must be packaged in bags made of static shielding material. On the other hand, you may consider anti-static poly bags when you are not shipping or storing electronic items prone to damage by static.

What is Electrostatic Discharge?

Electrostatic discharge (ESD) occurs when two electrically charged objects like the human body and an electronic device come into contact with each other. Electrostatic discharge can damage or even destroy sensitive electronic parts, alter magnetic media, or set off explosions in highly flammable environments.

If you are storing items that can be damaged by ESD, you need adequate ESD packaging to protect your sensitive components both inside and outside the bag.

ESD Bag in a Nutshell

If your industry produces printed circuit boards (PCBs), you need ESD-safe bags to ensure their secure storage and transportation. PCBs are critical parts of pacemakers and electronic games, and since they are prone to damage due to electrostatic discharge, it is essential to store them in adequate packages that won’t allow any interference that could damage them.

ESD bags, also known as static shield bags, are suitable for protecting sensitive electronic equipment from electrostatic discharge during storage and transport. Thanks to the 4-layered packaging construction, the items inside the bag will be safe from charges both inside and outside. The inner layer consists of static dissipative polyethylene, and it is surrounded by aluminum shielding. The mid-layer features polyester, while an outer layer is made of static dissipative coating.

Pristine Clean Bags® produces custom ESD bags for cleanroom uses. Our static shielding bag selection is ISO-certified, RoHS-compliant, and can be safely used to protect your high-end electronics and sensitive tech components from electrostatic discharge.

An ESD shielding bag is used by the engineering industry and high-end tech companies for storage and protection of PCBs, computer components, motherboards, integrated circuits, and other sensitive parts vital for the business.

You can find ESD bags with different properties, ranging from metalized moisture vapor barrier (MVB) to anti-static pink polyester bags. Ideally, both anti-static and ESD-safe bags for your industry should meet the following requirements:

  • ESD shielding efficiency
  • Permanent anti-static properties
  • Humidity-independent performance
  • Elimination of corrosion and contamination
  • Heat-stability
  • Transparency.
how do anti static bags work

Anti-Static Bags

Anti-static bags are often coated with an anti-static agent that mitigates the risk of a static imbalance that could affect the electronic component. While anti-static bags prevent triboelectric charge buildup due to the interference with hair, fabric, plastic packaging, etc., they cannot shield items inside the bag from ESD.

Keep in mind that ESD-sensitive tools, including electronic devices and IC components, are not safe from electrostatic discharge when handled or transported outside an ESD-safe area, even when they are inside an anti-static bag.

Remember that blue or pink anti-static bags are ESD safe only for items inside ESD-protected areas (EPA). Only a static shield bag can fully protect the items inside and outside the packaging during transportation or shipping outside an ESD safe space. That said, don’t use blue or pink anti-static bags for shipping ESD-sensitive products.

Static Dissipative Bags

Static dissipative bags are made of static dissipative materials that drain charge slowly. These bags are commonly used in ESD areas to keep papers and documents from transferring charges from a non-ESD safe place. They prevent a static charge buildup on the surface of the bag by dissipating the charge to the ground.

Static dissipative bags are not safe for electronic components because components are at risk of absorbing an ESD shock due to the lack of a Faraday cage. Therefore, static dissipative bags are convenient only for non-ESD-sensitive products.

static shielding bag

How to Choose an ESD Bag for Cleanroom Purposes?

Cleanrooms are highly controlled environments many industries use for product manufacturing processes. Aside from being extremely precise and clean, cleanroom areas may also be vulnerable to electrostatic discharge (ESD) disturbances. In that case, you need to ensure that every element that goes in and out of the room is highly controlled – from cleanroom design and general regulations to flooring, clothing, and packaging.

Understanding ESD Cleanroom Standards

A cleanroom must meet specific requirements regarding the amount of contaminants allowed in the area. It can be achieved through proper ventilation and control of humidity, temperature, filtration, ionization, air pressure, and electrostatic discharge.

By controlling electrostatic discharge inside a cleanroom, you create an entirely safe environment for manufacturing sensitive electronic components prone to damage by ESD. Even low ESD levels (30 volts) can damage the parts during production, disturbing the balance of your controlled environment. That said, you are at risk of damaging a circuit board only by walking across the carpet.

To ensure your ESD-safe environment is not compromised, pay attention to the following factors:

  • ESD flooring: Instead of installing ESD flooring, which can be quite costly, you can opt for ESD floor solutions. ESD floor finishes are less expensive yet incredibly efficient for protecting sensitive areas from static buildup. At the same time, they keep your work area industry-compliant.
  • ESD clothing: ESD protective garments and shoes are specifically designed to reduce the risk of damage to sensitive electronic components that are assembled or packaged inside a protected area.
  • ESD packaging: Specific ESD cleanroom bags are necessary for keeping electronic items safe from static buildup. Static shielding bags ensure your items are safe from ESD both inside and outside the bag, which is convenient for their transportation.
  • ESD furniture: ESD-protected industrial furniture is essential for preventing potential damage from electrostatic discharge. Anything from workbenches, chairs, and tables inside your cleanroom must be ESD protected.
  • ESD-safe tools: Professional-grade ESD-safe tools, including tweezers, pliers, screwdrivers, and similar devices used in the tech and engineering industry, ensure your components are not damaged by electrostatic discharge.
  • ESD wipes: ESD wipes are designed to remove electrostatic discharge that could damage sensitive electronic components. Most ESD wipes are ISO-certified and made of anti-static polyester and carbon core nylon materials.

FAQs

frequently asked question

What is the Difference Between Static Shielding and Anti-Static Bags?

ESD-safe, static shielding or conductive bags are designed to safely transit electronic components from an EPA to a non-EPA area. A 4-layered design provides protection from ESD by forming the Faraday cage effect. On the other hand, anti-static bags do not offer a safe transit of sensitive components from a protected to a non-protected space, increasing the risk of ESD-provoked damage.
frequently asked question

Where to Buy Anti-Static Bags?

If you are looking for anti-static or ESD-safe bags for cleanroom uses, look no further than Pristine Clean Bags®. We carry anti-static, static dissipative, and ESD-safe bags for various cleanroom uses – from storing sensitive electronic components and microchips to engineering and military uses.
frequently asked question

Are Blue or Pink Anti-Static Bags ESD-Safe?

When a bag is described as anti-static, the material does not generate triboelectric charges when interfering with hair, packaging, hair, and similar. Although they rely on an ESD coating that lowers the risk of electric potential leading to ESD events, pink or blue anti-static bags do not provide protection outside an ESD protected area (EPA).
frequently asked question

How Do Anti-Static Bags Work?

Anti-static bags feature a polyethylene material coated with a static agent that prevents the buildup of a static charge on the bag’s surface.
frequently asked question

Metal-In vs. Metal-Out ESD Bags?

Both metal-in and metal-out shielding bags protect the ESD-sensitive components, but the metal-in design is preferable due to its durability and cost.

Pristine Clean Bags®: High-Quality ESD-Safe Bags & Anti-Static Bags for Cleanroom Needs

Jarrett Industries has been in business for over 40 years. We are a leading anti-static and ESD bag supplier that responds to your industry’s unique needs and demands. Count on our customized packaging whenever you seek ISO-certified and FDA-approved anti-static or static shielding bags for protecting your sensitive electronic parts, including circuit boards, motherboards, flat-panels, hard drives, microchips, and similar. We also offer a broad range of HDPE, LDPE, Nylon/PE, Moisture-Barrier, Poly Tubing, and other custom-tailored cleanroom bags.

Contact us today to get your anti-static and ESD-safe bags at a price 30% below US and European markets.