Basics of Static Electricity

Here in the Northern Hemisphere, we are in the middle of winter and that means extremely dry air, and frequent shocks when reaching for a door knob after walking across a carpeted surface.  While a shock is mildly uncomfortable and can be annoying to us, the presence of static electricity in an industrial manufacturing process can be much more problematic.

Problems that static cause range from operator discomfort to increased downtime to quality issues.  Dust can cling to product, product can cling to itself, rollers, frames, or conveyors. Materials may tear, jam, curl and sheet fed items can stick and mis-feed. Hazardous sparks and shocks can occur, possibly damaging sensitive electronics.

EXAIR has put together a useful tool, the Basics of Static Electricity white paper with Interactive Regions to help a person learn more about static.

Basics of Static Electricity


Topics covered include Electron Theory, Causes of Static Electricity, Triboelectric Series chart, and Types of Static Generation.  Also, the white paper covers the areas of How to Control Static Charge Buildup, Determining the Source of the Static Buildup, Eliminating or Minimizing the Source Causing the Buildup, and Treating Static Buildup.

The Treating Static Buildup is a comprehensive review of the EXAIR Static Elimination products and how each technology is best applied to different processes and applications.

To receive your copy of the Basics of Static Electricity white paper, click the photo above or the link here.

If you would like to talk about static electricity or any of the EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Products, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or one of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer

Send me an email
Find us on the Web 
Like us on Facebook
Twitter: @EXAIR_BB

Ion Bars Eliminate Jam In Fiberglass Production

Last week I worked with a specialty glass manufacturer who was experiencing a static issue in their fiberglass mat production. Their particular production cycle consists of a rotary spinning process where molten glass exits a furnace and goes into a cylinder with several holes that rotates at high speed, causing the glass to be “pushed” through the holes. Upon exiting the cylinder, the fibers are blown down on to a conveyor belt underneath, treated with a binder and pressed together, then sent to an oven to cure. After the sheets exit the oven, they are air cooled, cut to the desired length, then sent to a sorter that directs the material to collection bins, based on thickness and length. It is at this point that they were seeing the parts start to “bunch” up, which caused the system to be shut down so an operator could manually clear the jam and sort the mats. The customer has experienced static issues before in other parts of their plant and took some readings and were seeing a 4 kV charge on the surface of the mats.

After discussing the details of the application, I recommended they use our 24″ Ionizing Bar, the width of their widest mat. The Ionizing Bars produce a high concentration of positive and negative ions to eliminate the surface static of an object when mounted within 2″ of the surface of the material. At 2″ away, the units are capable of dissipating a 5kV charge in less than half a second. By placing a unit above and below the exit point of the sorter, they would effectively remove the surface charge and eliminate the potential jam.

Ionizing Bars Work
Ionizing Bars are effective up to 2″ away and require no compressed air to operate.

Our Ionizing Bars are available in lengths from 3″ up to 108″ for a variety of small or wide surface treatment applications. For assistance selecting the best product for your specific requirements, please contact one of our application engineers at 800-903-9247.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer

Ion Air Jet Improves Teflon Gasket Cutting

If your familiar with our blog, you may have noticed that a common theme lately has been static.  Take for example our recent blog titled  Static Can Become A Big Issue With Winter Approaching , details how static was negatively affecting an automobile instrumentation assembler’s production or another one titled Static Electricity – What is it? , providing a better general understanding of the phenomena. Here in Cincinnati we’ve had some relatively mild temperatures lately but this weekend it was just downright cold. Now that our furnace is running, the humidity in the house is starting to be removed which not only wreaks havoc on our hardwood floors, but in winter’s past, it seemed like every time one of us touched each other or something metal , we got “zapped” due to static. As many homeowners do, I’ve purchased several humidifiers and strategically placed them throughout the house which has helped immensely. While this is a good approach for a residence, it’s not as easy an alternative when dealing in an industrial setting.

I recently worked with a customer in the northeastern U. S. who manufacturers Teflon gaskets. As the Teflon tube exits the extruder, a blade passes by and cuts a very thin cross section of material which drops into a collection bin underneath. During the spring and summer months, the process was running seamlessly but over the past couple weeks, temperatures in the area have dropped, causing the company to turn on the large, gas heaters on the production floor. Now that the air is starting to dry out, they are beginning to see the gaskets cling to the blade and surrounding tooling which is not only causing damage to the part itself but it’s also resulting in production delays.

Since the area they are needing to treat is relatively small, I recommended they use our Ion Air Jet. The Ion Air Jet  provide a focused stream of ionized air to eliminate the surface static of a material or object. By incorporating a pressure regulator to operate at low pressure, they would be able to reduce the outlet force and velocity, allowing them to gently blow the airflow across the area as to not disrupt the collection of the parts.

NEW Ion Air Jet
Static can cause a variety of nuisances in industrial settings ranging from damage to sensitive electronics, machine jams, parts or sheets sticking together, and personnel shock just to name a few. If you need any help selecting the best EXAIR product for your needs, don’t hesitate to ask one of our application engineers for assistance. I’d be shocked if we couldn’t help. (I know, not punny).

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer

Static Can Become A Big Issue With Winter Approaching

Many automotive parts are made of plastic, and with nonconductive materials, static electricity can become a big problem, especially in cooler climates.

A customer with whom I spoke recently assembles instrumentation clusters for vehicles.  The assembly process started by using a regular compressed air gun to blow the surfaces clean before assembly.  The operator would place a polycarbonate applique onto a lighting fixture.  Then a clear polycarbonate cover would go over both parts.  To complete the cluster assembly, an ultrasonic welder would weld the plastic studs around the outside edge and seal the parts together.  This completed the assembly process.  However, during inspection, they started to notice more visual defects after the welding process.  The cause was debris that became lodged between the applique and the clear cover. The debris was still present even after blowing.  If the debris wasn’t cleared prior to welding, the entire assembly would have to be scrapped due to the visual defect. The customer knew about EXAIR from previous projects and so decided to get help from us again to solve this expensive reject situation.

Initially, blowing the plastic components with regular compressed air before assembling and welding  worked well, but then they started seeing an increase in the reject rate.  I came to find out that they were located in Michigan. So I asked the customer about the weather there recently. They indicated that was getting cooler as we begin to head into Fall and Winter. As cooler weather is among us, static can be generated much easier because cool air cannot hold as much moisture. And with less moisture, which aids to eliminate a static charge, the likelihood that static will generate goes up.  Once static is generated on plastic components, dust and debris likes to stick to the surface.  Static charges are very strong, and even with blowing compressed air, the debris can still cling to edges or even “jump” to another location.  This was a manual operation and they needed to remove the static from the surface in order to eliminate the debris from the assembly.


I recommended the model 8493 Ion Air Gun Kit. It combines static removal capability with a blowing force that one would normally associate with a compressed air blowgun.  The kit includes the Ion Air Gun, power supply, filter and regulator.  The Ion Air Gun is designed with a 5:1 amplification ratio; minimizing compressed air usage and maximizing ionized airflow.  With the regulator, you can control the force from a “blast” to a “breeze”.  The ionized airflow eliminates the static from the plastic surfaces, allowing the airstream to remove any dirt and debris.  They replaced their current air gun with the EXAIR Ion Air Gun, and the rejection rate decreased to the acceptable levels that they were seeing in the summer months.

Being that the winter months are approaching, you may want to re-evaluate your processes.  If you are working with non-conductive materials like plastic, wood, glass, or textiles, EXAIR has a variety of Static Eliminators that can save you from getting headaches, losing money, and saving time.  With our customer above, they weren’t able to get ahead of the static issue, and it created many problems until they investigated using EXAIR Static Eliminators. Get rid of your static headaches by using an EXAIR Static Eliminator today.

John Ball
Application Engineer
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

Static Electricity – What is it?

Now that the air is cooling and the humidity is dropping, you may often experience the phenomena of static electricity, and the resultant shock when touching something metal. As a child, you may have learned about static electricity by rubbing a balloon on your head and then seeing it stick to the wall. What is the science behind static electricity?


All materials are made up of atoms, which have a positively charged core called the nucleus surrounded by a cloud of negatively charged electrons.  Each material is different, and in some types of materials the positive nucleus has a very strong pull on the electrons while in other materials the pull is very weak.  If we were to put a strong  pull material in contact with a weaker pull material, atoms from the weak pull material will migrate, and when the materials are separated, additional electrons will remain with the strong pull material.  Due to the overall increase in electron quantity, the material becomes negatively charged and the other material becomes positively charged. If the materials are rubbed together, the opportunities for the electron migration increases, and thus more electrons are exchanged.

Electrons build up more easily in dry conditions. When the air has humidity, static build up is less common because a very thin layer of water molecules coat most surfaces, which allows the electrons to move more freely and make most materials conductive and static free.

In some cases, static electricity can be a good thing – laser printers and photocopiers use static electricity to transfer ink from the drum to the paper.  Also, some power plants and chemical factories use static electricity  to remove pollutants in a process that takes place within the smokestack.

But generally when EXAIR gets involved, it is because the static electricity is causing an unwanted build up of static charge that affects a manufacturing process. The results of a static charge imbalance can result in a shock to an operator, materials sticking together, poor print quality, sensor or counter malfunctions, bad surface finish, or any number of other problems.

EXAIR offers systems for total static control, such as the Super Ion Air Knife and Ionizing Bars for wide applications such as paper, film and plastic webs, the Super Ion Air Wipe for narrow, continuously moving materials such as wire, tube, or extrusions.  Also offered are the handheld Ion Air Gun for use on three dimensional parts prior to assembly, packaging painting or finishing. Other options include the Ion Air Cannon for limited space or remote mounting applications, Ion Air Jet for tight spaces and concentrated airflow, and the Ionizing Point to provide close distance and accurate static removal.

Super Ion Air Wipe

To discuss your static elimination concerns , feel free to contact EXAIR and one our  Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer

Send me an email
Find us on the Web
Like us on Facebook
Twitter: @EXAIR_BB

Spark Photo Credit – Eric Skiff – via Creative Commons License

Static Eliminators Solve Printing Quality Issues

One of the big issues in winter many manufacturing and process industries experience is static.  An outside sales rep who was responsible for selling and servicing industrial laser printers contacted us after he started to receive more complaints about the quality of the print, especially with customers that used polyester sheets.  One of their customers was printing both sides of a 13” X 19” (33 X 48 cm) sheet, and they noticed that the print on the back side was blurry.  We discussed how static can cause issues like this in printing applications. A static charge can keep ink from landing in the proper location, it can cause ink to spiderweb, spread over defined boundaries or fail to penetrate its target.

Ionizing Bar
Low cost Ionizing Bars eliminate static cling.

Being that EXAIR Corporation is a leader in production and application of active Static Eliminators, we were able to discuss the issues and suggest some possible solutions. Laser printers are designed to use static to pick up toner onto a drum and to apply it to sheets of paper.  If the sheet of paper has a charge on it, that can affect the print quality because like charges repel each other.  In this application, we have two conditions that contributed to the increase in static charge on the polyester sheet, the dry air and the type of material.  Dry air in winter is pretty much a given as cold air cannot hold as much moisture as hot air can.  With a decrease in moisture levels, static fields can build to much higher levels causing discharges, the small “shocks” you experience when you touch a non-conductive material, another person or even a grounded machine.  The other static issue is material.  The type of materials involved in an application determine how they will share electrons when they rub together.  Some materials give up electrons readily and some materials tend to gain electrons.

Getting back to the application; inside the mentioned printer, a rubber roll was used to invert the paper to print on the back side.  If the paper was cellulose, it is harder to generate static as the rubber roll and cellulose are similar in sharing electrons. However, this sheet was made of polyester, it has a higher affinity to take electrons from the rubber roll. A static field would build which was enough to affect the transfer of toner from the drum causing a blurred image.

Our strategy for applying static elimination solutions is to determine the point of static generation and locate the static elimination equipment just downstream of the problem area.  In this instance, it was after the roller just before printing. The space was limited, so the customer went with model 7012 Ionizing bar with the 7901 power supply.  The positive and negative ions that are emitted from the Ionizing Bar will neutralize static fields of positive or negative polarity bringing the surface of the polyester material back to neutral.  The length of the bar was slightly shorter than the width of the sheet, however it still has plenty of capacity to neutralize the outside edges.  The end user mounted the Ionizing Bar in the center of the sheet about 0.5” (13mm) away from the surface.  After he plugged in the Ionization Bar, the static field was removed and the printing on the back side was now clear.  The end user was so impressed that he contacted the manufacturer of the laser printer to suggest they add effective static elimination as  an option for troublesome applications like his.

If you have static issues and you want to remove the pain they cause in the form of injury, lost production time and material waste, contact EXAIR and speak to one of our experienced Application Engineers.

John Ball, Application Engineer
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

Crank Up The Heat (and Static)

The outside temperature is beginning to drop which means the thermostat in my house is getting a workout. I don’t mind the colder temps but my wife on the other hand likes it pretty toasty during the winter months. I am usually downstairs in the living room, so I don’t feel the full effect of the increased heat but our house isn’t as fortunate. The majority of our house has hardwood floors so as the inside temperatures rise and the furnace brings in more of that dry outside air to heat up, it also dries out the hardwood which begins to separate and make a nice creaking sound. We started using humidifiers upstairs and on the main floor to replace some of the moisture lost due to the increased makeup air from the outside.

Another concern with dry air is it creates static electricity.  There are a ton of natural insulators in your house, like carpet or shoes with rubber soles just to name a few, that make it all too easy to build up a static charge and deliver a nice shock. Case in point, over the weekend I was downstairs working and asked our oldest son if he could help me out and get his baby brother out of the pack-n-play. Of course, without hesitation, (heavy sarcasm) he shuffled across the carpet and reached down for his brother, then ZAP! I actually heard the shock before the screams started! I quickly made the realization that I will soon be adding a third humidifier for downstairs as well!

Static electricity is a common nuisance in industrial settings also. It can lead to damaged product, shorting of electrical components, printing or labeling errors, spark generation or cause harmful shock to an operator. EXAIR offers a wide variety of Static Eliminators that are capable of neutralizing the surface static of a material or object to ensure proper operation in many manufacturing processes. For example, our Super Ion Air Knife is a great choice for printing/labeling applications or cleaning a web. With applications requiring more of a focused airflow, we offer our Ion Air Cannon or Ion Air Jet. The Ion Air Gun is the perfect choice for a manual, surface treatment. We also offer our Ionizing Bars and Ionizing Point for close proximity static elimination, where compressed air isn’t available.

An easy way to pinpoint the location and level of static is by using our Model # 7905 Digital Static Meter. The Digital Static Meter is a handheld, portable device that is capable of reading static within 1″ of the surface, up to  +/- 20 kV with 5% accuracy. Once the static has been located, we can then make the best recommendation for a Static Eliminator that will meet the application requirements.

Static Meter
Easy to use, Digital Static Meter to pinpoint static charge. Calibrated to NIST standards.

If static is a concern in any of your processes, or if you need help in making the best selection, please contact an application engineer for assistance.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer