What is the Difference between Conductive and Static Dissipative?

Last Updated: August 2, 2022

Conductive and static dissipative are two subdivisions of ESD properties. Understanding the difference between these two materials can help you decide which options are the best for your environment. Components are divided into these categories based on their surface resistance, which is the measure of how easily electron charges can travel across the material.

Here is the difference between conductive and static dissipative:
Conductive materials have a surface resistance of less than 1×10 5 ohms/square.

Static Dissipative materials are generally in the surface resistance range of 1×10 5 ohms/square but less than 1×10 11 ohms/square.

Insulative materials – which aren’t safe in ESD environments – have a surface resistance of more than 1×1012 ohms/square.

Conductive Materials

Most metals fall in the conductive material range. A good example of how conductive metal energy works is Newton’s ball apparatus. Usually made up of five metal balls, when hit, only the two outer balls will move. The energy is quickly being transferred from one side to the other through the three remaining balls in the middle.

Which metals are most conductive?
The top 5 most conductive metals are Silver, Copper, Gold, Aluminum and Zinc/Brass.

Which other materials are the most conductive?
Other conductive materials include steel, concrete, mercury, seawater and iron. In the ESD industry, you will see most conductive items are carbon loaded. From carbonloaded conductive foam to the carbon fibers found woven into ESD smocks carbon is a ubiquitous material used in static control.

Because of their ability to move energy so quickly and easily, grounding materials are usually made from conductive materials. The earth is considered a neutral zone with low voltage that can create the base for the low emission of energy. This helps keep static to a minimum to lower the chance of electrostatic discharge (ESD), which prevents damage to sensitive equipment. Products we supply in the “conductive range” include conductive foam, circuit board boxes, ESD table mats, conductive floor mats, and conductive tote boxes.

Static Dissipative Materials

Dissipative materials allow the charge to flow more slowly within the material for more control. Dissipative materials control the energy that comes out of the human body. Since the body is such a high conductor of energy, a static spark is easily dispersed using a dissipative plastic material. It makes that energy flow slower and will therefore emit a low energy to the ground to prevent a discharge and possible damage to any sensitive items. Products we supply in the “static dissipative range” include static dissipative foams, static dissipative bags, and ESD table mats.

What is the difference between ESD and Static Dissipative?
ESD stands for Electrostatic Discharge and is defined as “the rapid, spontaneous transfer of electrostatic charge induced by a high electrostatic field.” Many electronic components are considered ESD sensitive in that a static discharge event as small as 20 volts can damage or destroy microelectronics. The term Static Dissipative is simply a measurement in which static charges flow to ground. Static Dissipative properties features a surface resistance range of 1×10 5 ohms/square but less than 1×10 11 ohms/square. Static dissipative products have a more controlled flow to ground than items in the conductive range.

Regardless of which material you choose, a surface resistivity meter should be in your ESD arsenal –  available to measure the surface resistance of any given material.

Both types of material are useful when creating a static-free room environment. For more information on ESD materials and their application, please contact our sales staff, sales@correctproducts.com.

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