ESTAT-Garments Protective clothing for use in the manufacturing of electrostatic sensitive devices
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What is ESTAT-Garments

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The main objective of the project is to supply the standards body IEC TC101 (Electrostatics) with a basis to qualify the effectiveness of clothing used for the ESD-safe handling (commonly named ESD-garments) of ESD (ElectroStatic Discharge) sensitive devices and to develop appropriate test methods for the characterisation of such ESD protective garments. The approach is aimed at achieving an understanding of the electrophysical processes regarding composite textile materials as well as the total system, including the sensitive devices. This means that the project also offers the following objectives: 1) a physical basis for understanding the electrostatic processes within composite materials at large (i.e. not just the ones used for ESD-garments preparation), 2) an understanding of the complete system (operator, ordinary clothing, ESD-garments, ESD sensitive electronics), 3) providing results for manufacturers of garments and yarns to give them an incentive for product improvements.

Description of the work

The work will be performed by a consortium consisting of four complementary research organisations - VTT (Technical Research Centre of Finland) from Finland, SP (Swedish National Testing and Research Institute) from Sweden, Centexbel (Wetenschappelijk en technisch centrum van de Belgische textielnijverheid) from Belgium and STFI (Sachsisches Textilforschungsinstitut e.V.) from Germany - and one university, Electrical Engineering Department of University of Genova from Italy. The consortium is reinforced by two electronics manufacturers (end-users of ESD protective garments) - Nokia (FIN) and Celestica (I) - who will participate in the project acting outside the framework of the contract. The project is co-ordinated by VTT.

The work is partitioned in six research workpackages: 1) Identification and quantification of the different types of electrostatic threats caused by charged clothing to sensitive electronics. 2) Elucidation of the behaviour of charges on composite textile surfaces. 3) Study of the electrostatic interrelations between the components of the system composed of: the operator, ordinary clothing, protective garment and sensitive electronics. 4) Characterization of the material and construction of garments. 5) Characterization of the electrostatic properties of fabrics. 6) Collection of the findings from all other workpackages and implementing appropriate test methods and recommendations for use. The validation of such test methods is performed in this workpackage by means of interlaboratory tests with the participation of six partners.

Exploitation and dissemination of the results is an important part of the project, and it is strongly supported by the fact that the individual partners have close relations with several other ESD-garment users (electronics, IT- manufacturer) and with manufacturers of garments, fabrics and yarns. All the participants also take active part in the standardisation activities of garments (IEC TC101 and CEN TC162).

Milestones and expected results

The main aim of the three-year project will be basis for standardisation of test methods and requirements for garments. Recommendations for the use of garments (including personnel safety aspects) will also be given. Critical milestones are planned at the mid-term, when a decision will be made whether new methods have to be developed or modifications of existing test methods are preferable, and by the 24th month when new methods/modifications for interlaboratory tests will have been developed. The project started 1 March 2002 and will end 28 February 2005.