For the sake of this discussion, let’s assume that the world is made up of only two materials, conductors and insulators.
Conductors tend to be mostly metals that have the ability to be grounded and allow electrons to pass through them. Insulators tend to be mostly plastics that cannot be grounded and do not allow electrons to flow through them. A basic example of these two materials is found in high voltage electrical wire or cable. The inside of a standard high voltage wire is metallic which allows current to flow through it. The outer jacket is plastic so that we don’t see the voltage. It is designed to protect people from shocks and even electrocution if the current is high.
Static electricity is often confused with standard electricity, but they are actually quite different, with the biggest difference being the low current behind a static discharge.
The magnitude of the static charge depends on several factors including speed, pressure, surface contact and humidity.
We’ve all experienced the discomfort of being shocked after walking across carpet and then touching a metal door knob. Many people wear rubber or man-made plastic material on the soles of their shoes which act as insulators. As they shuffle across the carpet, they build static on their bodies. Our bodies act as conductors because we are made up of plenty of water. When we touch the door knob, which is also a conductor, the energy on our body flows to the metal door knob. This exchange of energy is where you feel the shock. In the winter when the air is dry and humidity is low, the static shock sensation is much more intense.
In the manufacturing environment, static can be generated in almost the same way. Plastic materials moving through a process generate static because of the friction, which can cause it to stick or jam inside machinery. The machines are metal and fairly well-grounded in most cases, but since the plastic is an insulator, it cannot be grounded. This is where static-related problems can occur. Have you ever rubbed a balloon on your hair and stuck it to a ceiling? This is the same situation on a converting machine. Conductors and insulators interact all the time, so finding the right solution can sometimes be tricky.
For plastic processing, static eliminators are used to cure static problems. The decision on which type of ionizer or technology to use is determined by understanding that particular process. Grounding is always the front line of defense, so make sure that all conductors are at ground potential. The second course of action should be to mount an ionizer in the proper location to treat the insulators in the process.
Make sure to check out our selection of ionizing blowers, guns and nozzles to eliminate static electricity. Contact us if you have any questions about our products so that we can get you set up with the best solution!