Static electricity is a common problem that affects a variety of industries and manufacturers around the world. Anyone from packaging plants, bottling facilities and plastic producers need to control and reduce static electricity. As these industries continue to increase the speed of their lines and move towards more synthetic materials, all to increase production and decrease cost, the effects of static electricity greatly increase. This leads to a number of quality, productivity and safety issues, anything from dust contamination to potential fire hazards.
What Causes Static Electricity?
Static electricity is caused when two materials are rubbed against one another. Typically, the surface of every material contains a combination of protons and electrons, these charges (protons and electrons) are balanced creating an overall neutral charge for the object. However, when two objects rub against one another the charges are separated, so either an electron or proton will move from one object to the other. Thus, one object becomes either positively or negatively charged and the other object will be the opposite. These objects will remain in this unbalanced state until something force the material back into a neutral state.
When the objects remain unbalanced they take on their respective properties, they will attract (or repel) other objects. This can cause the objects to spark, when separated, or become adhesive to other objects. As you can imagine, this can cause serious problems on the production floor when products are going through the various stages from assembling to packaging.
Weather has a serious effect on static electricity. The dryer the air gets the greater the static build-up is, that is why we typically experience shocks and static hair in the winter months. This Is also true for production. It is important for companies to effectively control the atmosphere of their production facilities.
Why is This A Problem?
This is a huge problem for manufacturing facilities. Manufacturing plants are continually facing pressure to simultaneously increase product rate and decrease material costs. Although this is a benefit for the business, it becomes the perfect environment for increased static electricity. More synthetic materials and plastics, which hold and conduct charges well, are being put on production lines that are moving at faster and faster speeds. This is then creating additional problems later in the production process. Anything from contaminants getting into food, label quality being compromised to inks not adhering to products. When this happens, it creates a number of bottlenecks and quality concerns for the company.
Is There A Solution?
Yes, there is. In order to maintain their line speeds and material costs, companies wanted a way to revert, or prevent, the cause static electricity. Thus, the ionizing bar was designed. The ionizing bar reverts the unbalance particles on the object back to a neutral state. However, the ionizing bar alone is not enough. In order to successfully eliminate static charge there needs to be a vehicle to deliver the ion charge to the object. Air Knives are the most effective way to evenly distribute the ionization to the object.
The ionization is distributed through the air produced by the air knife and is then attracted to the unbalanced object (either positively or negatively charged). This attraction allows the object to revert back to the correct number of electrons or protons need to remain in a balanced state.
Many companies are investing in Ionizing Air Knives to effectively neutralize their products before they move into the packaging, labeling, filling, etc. stage of product. The Ionizing Air Knives neutralize the charge helping to remove dust particles and ensure that there is a clean, neutral surface for the product, label, ink, etc. to attach to.
Below is a chart that shows relative positive or negative charge associated with certain materials.