StaticWorx was conceived over the summer of 2007. Frustrated by the confusion and lack of information in the marketplace, Dave envisioned an ESD flooring company focused on transparency—with direct communication between the customer and true brand supplier.
In October 2007, StaticWorx moved into a 300 sq./ft. office above a Starbucks café in Newton, Massachusetts. Two months later, the economy crashed, with reverberations affecting businesses for years after the Great Recession finally ended. Thanks to our expanding network of architects and designers, facility managers and engineers, contractors, flooring installers, and property owners, Staticworx managed to stay afloat. In 2012, we’re proud to say, Inc. 5000 recognized Staticworx as one of the fastest growing companies in the U.S. for the third consecutive year.
Today, from our offices in Waterbury, VT, and Washington, D.C., and our warehouses in Vermont, Georgia, and southern California, we provide over two million sq./ft. of ESD flooring per year to businesses and government facilities across the globe.
Here—with thanks to our amazing partners and clients—are the highlights of our journey.
In the 1970s, ESD is slowly creeping into what will become our everyday world of PCs, PDAs, and GPSs. Flooring manufacturers are largely unaware of the need for ESD mitigation.
Most electronics companies are concerned about static/ESD and have proprietary standards and test methods, which they do not share with other companies. The common discharge value is 5000 volts, with electrical resistance set at 500 ohms.
Source for testing and standards information: In Compliance Magazine
To provide clients with better service and faster delivery, Staticworx signs on with a contract warehouse and begins storing and shipping ESD flooring materials from Georgia. Early on, warehoused products consist primarily of carpet and adhesive. By 2008, Staticworx is warehousing a complete line of static-control flooring products and adhesives.
In 1979, military subcontractors adopt DOD-1686, the Mil spec for ESD. Flooring manufacturers race to develop groundable materials for places where ESD-sensitive equipment is handled, stored or used. Like any nascent industry, it takes a while to perfect the materials; some of the early suppliers get it right and some don’t.
With explosive growth fueled exclusively by word of mouth, the company expands west from New England, and moves into the emerging Mexican market. As electronics manufacturing grows, Mexico plays an increasingly important role in our business development strategy. Our first Mexican project is a 200,000 sq/ft installation for Rockwell Automation in Monterrey.
The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) releases Publication 801-2, titled Electromagnetic Compatibility for Industrial-Process Measurement and Control Equipment – Part 2: Electrostatic Discharge Requirements.
While the precise technical term is static electricity discharge, the term electrostatic discharge is used in the technical world and in technical literature, so the committee decides to retain the use of ESD in the title.
Source: In Compliance Magazine
December 2007 marked the onset of a global economic crisis known as the “Great Recession.” Tight credit and weakened demand for their products hammered small business, with the smallest firms suffering losses far in excess of large corporations. Small construction companies, among the hardest hit, saw a 19.4% decline in employment between 2007 and 2009. Though the recession officially ended in 2009, recovery was long and slow, and its effects lingered for years.
Because static-control properties are easy to incorporate into the regular compound, vinyl becomes the material of choice for ESD flooring. By introducing veins of conductive material into standard vinyl tile, suppliers can produce a static-control floor that performs reliably, while also easily and effectively manufactured.
While ESD vinyl was a start, and a good one, it isn’t the panacea people had hoped for. Some vinyls are too soft, others too brittle to handle the heavy loads in areas where large computer equipment is assembled and moved. In wave soldering areas, spills from the solder machines melt the material. Some ESD vinyl products contain plasticizers that cannot be used in certain clean-room applications. Others use fire retardants, like halogens, which, in the event of a small fire, can create corrosive gases, damaging to unmanned spaces like the underground offices of a telephone company.
Developed exclusively for Staticworx, EC Rubber is the first conductive ESD rubber floor to provide a lifetime static protection warranty, regardless of the footwear worn in the environment. Our first truly green product, EC Rubber is awarded the prestigious GREENGUARD GOLD certificate, a stringent certification for low-VOC emissions and indoor air quality.
Early versions of ESD epoxy are durable and easy to maintain, but often fail conductivity tests. During the mixing process, an incomplete dispersion of conductive fibers produces an ESD floor that is not adequately conductive. To boost conductivity, it’s common practice to “shock” epoxy floors with high-voltage power supplies, a process akin to medical defibrillation.
Shocking helps bridge the insulative gaps between the suspended conductive fibers, but it doesn’t always work, particularly in cases where either an error in the mixing process or poor quality control by the chemical manufacturer produce a compound containing a deficient number of fibers or conductive particles.
Poor quality controls in ESD vinyl materials produced offshore result in off-sized tiles that shrink due to filler content and plasticizer migration and continue to shrink after they’ve been installed. These low-quality materials and ugly installations frustrate installers and end users, fueling a burgeoning demand for products made in America. Ameriworx ESD tiles, produced entirely in the U.S., provide a clean, hospital-like appearance, while meeting all industry standards for electrical performance.
To service an expanding client base in the western parts of the U.S. and Canada, on the West Coast, and in Mexico, Staticworx opens a warehouse in Los Angeles. This enables the company to get products to building sites faster and, in some cases, provide same- or one-day delivery.
ESD carpet has its own set of problems. The conductive fibers in the early carpets are not robust enough to withstand traffic. The fibers would break down, rendering the static-control qualities of the floor ineffective.
Conductive carpet produced in the 70s and early 80s is almost exclusively a broadloom product similar to the carpet installed in your house. Because repairs to broadloom carpet are both difficult and conspicuous, and because electronic manufacturing processes are much dirtier than they later become, most facilities managers consider carpet unsuitable for manufacturing environments.
NanoMarkets, a leading analyst in the electronics industry, reports on the miniaturization of electronic circuitry in computers and other electronics, including handheld devices, warning that as these powerful devices decrease in size, they become much more vulnerable to electrostatic discharge (ESD). NanoMarkets projects sales of ESD products to exceed $8 billion by 2015.
Though one of the most stable, durable, and resilient flooring materials, early ESD rubber flooring is not attractive. Early rubbers are available only in the carbon-loaded, black version of the material. Most people find this black rubber ugly or dirty-looking, and consider rubber unsuitable for large areas or for cleanrooms.
Staticworx EC Rubber is featured in Buildings Magazine as one of 81 top money-saving building products. The article states: “EC Rubber is the first conductive rubber floor that provides anti-static protection for any environment. The flooring is unaffected by aging, traffic, or humidity; it’s oil, grease, and chemical resistant; and saves on maintenance and product replacement costs. MIT Labs calls it the only static-resistant product that inhibits static generation regardless of footwear.”
According to the Sematech road map (the industry website for the semiconductor industry), ESD will present a major reliability issue for semiconductor manufacturers over the next several years.
Ted Dangelmayer, a widely recognized and respected ESD consultant, agrees. In the next five years, Dangelmayer predicts, component sensitivity, at one time over 1000 volts, will drop to as little as 25 volts, due in part to new engineering designs. The internal protection devices had made the components more robust, but encumbered circuit speed, inhibiting the production of faster, more capable components. According to Dangelmayer, the tradeoff for higher performance devices will be designs that are likely to be more vulnerable to ESD.
For further information, see The Electrostatic Technology Roadmap
In response to revised national grounding standards in the communications industry, aimed toward protecting people who work around electrified equipment, Staticworx switches from conductive to static-dissipative carpet. Static-dissipative carpet grounds static charges as effectively as highly conductive carpet, which is prohibited under the revised standards by organizations such as the FAA (FAA 019f), Motorola (R56), ATIS (0600321), and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA 99).
EOS/ESD Symposium Proceedings
At the EOS/ESD Symposium, in Phoenix, Arizona, Donna Robinson-Hahn–an engineer at AT & T Microelectronics* and Program Director for all Lucent Technologies ESD Programs worldwide–presents a paper called “ESD Flooring: An Engineering Evaluation.” Her paper discusses the results of an extensive 2-year engineering study on the performance of over 20 ESD floors. Intended “to provide a thorough characterization of the electrical and mechanical properties of ESD flooring,” hers was the first long-term, objective evaluation of ESD flooring materials.
Based on her findings, Robinson-Hahn concluded that all ESD flooring systems should be tested for body voltage generation using street shoes or used only with approved ESD footwear.
* The Microelectronics group was a division of Lucent Technologies.
In the ’80s and ’90s, as integrated circuits (IC) became smaller and more robust, manufacturers began to design on-chip ESD protection, and damage to electronic devices declined. By the late ’90s, as Dangelmayer had predicted, shrinking IC geometry outpaces the technology for on-chip ESD protection. As a result, these smaller, ultra-sensitive ICs become more vulnerable to static discharge.
Source: On Semiconductor Website
MIT Laboratories found Eclipse Rubber to be the only static-resistant flooring product that successfully inhibits static generation regardless of footwear. EC rubber is recipient of both the prestigious GREENGUARD GOLD certificate for indoor air quality, and the Seal of Approval by ESD Journal as the only fault-tolerant ESD flooring product. Eclipse Rubber meets all domestic and international standards including ANSI/ESD S20.20, ANSI/ESD STM 97.1 (system resistance), ANSI/ESD STM 97.2 (body voltage generation), DOD 4145.26-M (munitions handling), and NASA-grade, clean-room requirements.
This award marks the company’s third consecutive appearance on the BBJ Pacesetters list—a list of the region’s fastest-growing privately held companies.
The microchips inside electronic equipment, including hand-held devices, are extremely vulnerable to static discharges. A minute, 100-volt charge—30 times smaller than any charge a human being can feel—can damage or destroy these sensitive components, disrupt data, causing lost or dropped calls, and create havoc with traffic direction.
These vulnerabilities create a need for more ESD-tolerant environments, anyplace where electronics are manufactured, handled or used. The need is especially acute in places, such 9-1-1 call centers and FAA flight towers, where sophisticated electronics are used to protect life, perform secure transactions, protect our airspace or provide mission-critical services.
Inc. Magazine’s 500/5000 list honors the fastest-growing privately-held companies in the U.S. “Fast growth at any time is a big achievement; fast growth during the past few years is just short of miraculous,” said Inc. Editor Jane Berentson. “The Inc. 500/5000 consists of these just-short-of miraculous companies, the ones that through ingenuity and ambition have increased revenue, hired employees, and grown fast in difficult economic times.” This marks the company’s third appearance on the Inc. 500/5000 list.
ESD is now recognized as a major source of equipment failure in manufacturing plants as well as in the field. The ESD Association estimates that 25% of all electronics damaged for unknown reasons can be attributed to ESD, with the cost of ESD damage to the electronics industry estimated at $5 billion (USD) per year.
A lightweight material composed of conductive cellulose, this conductive, glue-free grounding method enables flooring installations over any existing subfloor. Installation is clean, easy, and fast, with no VOCs. A floating floor can be created with ESD carpet tile simply by rolling GroundBridge strips over the existing floor, then joining the corners of Staticworx ESD carpet tiles, using dimensionally-strong, self-adhering TacTiles®
The ESD Association now has 2000 members from 30 countries around the world. The Association has relationships with the Reliability Center in Japan (RCJ), Productivity Standards Board (PSB) in Singapore, Electronics Industry Association of Japan (EIAJ), ESD Forum of Germany, ESREF in Europe, China National Institute of Standardization in China (CNIS), and International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). Members serve on Association Standards Committees, present technical papers at the annual EOS/ESD Symposium, and provide the communication links with similar organizations in other countries.
Source: EOS/ESD Association
With Staticworx ESD flooring, you never have to choose between performance and aesthetics. Our beautiful, high quality ESD carpet tile, vinyl, EC rubber tile and sheet goods, and ESD epoxy floors are as beautiful as they are functional.