Certain components used in electronic assemblies are sensitive to static electricity and therefore can be damaged by its discharge. Static electricity charges are created when non-conductive materials are separated. A typical example in everyday life is the friction caused by nylon sheets or clothing containing a large quantity of synthetic material.
The same principles apply within PCBs, but the consequences can be serious – although it is possible to repair them.
Static charges (or discharges) are induced on nearby conductors, such as human skin, and delivered in the form of sparks passing between conductors. This might be on the surface of a printed board assembly touched by a person having a static charge potential. If this happens at the wrong solder joint or conductive pattern, the PC board may be damaged when the discharge passes through the conductive pattern to a static sensitive component. It’s worth pointing out that the static damage level for components can’t usually be felt by humans as it is often below 3,000 volts.
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