Discover the crucial role of ESD-safe packaging in protecting electronics during shipping and complying with industry regulations. Learn how these materials safeguard against electrostatic discharge, prevent damage to devices, increase efficiency, and contribute to a safer and more sustainable future for electronics.

Jack Shaw, Senior Writer and Editor

March 1, 2024

5 Min Read
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eric1513 / iStock via Getty Images Plus

At a Glance

  • Shields electronics against static discharge, vital for sectors like healthcare wearables amid rising consumer demand
  • A regulatory necessity, ESD-safe packaging ensures liability avoidance and safety across industries
  • Reduces shipping damage, safeguards devices, and aligns with sustainability goals, reducing emissions

Electronics deserve critical care and attention with their packaging due to the associated costs and sensitivities while traveling. Devices can build up electrostatic discharge (ESD) and suffer damage during shipping — some may even break completely. Modern packaging companies must use ESD-safe packaging to meet industry standards and ensure satisfaction for end users. Here’s the role it plays in today’s business landscape.

Four functions of ESD-safe packaging.

Rising demand for shipping companies means ensuring client satisfaction is more important than ever. What role do ESD-safe materials serve with modern consumer electronics businesses? Here are a few things ESD-safe packaging fulfills.

1. Protecting electronics.

The primary role of ESD-safe packaging is protecting electronics. Companies insert these materials to prevent static inside packages, like boxes and pouches, because ESD can damage devices before they reach the end user.

Accidents happen during transportation, and tech gadgets can inadvertently touch one another. When devices make contact, they increase the voltage potential and risk destruction. Some electronics travel by ship, making ESD-safe packaging crucial because of its anti-corrosion properties. For example, anti-static bags protect metal and reduce the risk of corrosion when en route.

Electronic protection has become more critical when considering the shipping demand across industries. Automakers, healthcare, and other critical sectors require ESD-safe packaging to prevent downtime and boost safety. This growth has become evident in the market size of this innovative packaging, which experts say has a $2.4 billion value and an expected 5.6% compound annual growth rate (CAGR).

2. Complying with regulations.

ESD-safe packaging has evolved from an innovative technology to a necessary component for companies. Executives must be wary of regulations depending on the industry because some may require ESD-safe packaging for liability purposes.

Modern regulations for electronic packaging derive from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the EOS/EOD Association — a group created to spread awareness about ESD avoidance. About 16,000 members in 55 countries adhere to its specifications, covering design standards, technical reports, test methods, and other crucial benchmarks.

As research and development grows, more governments, industries and organizations will likely adopt these safe materials to boost safety and reduce inefficiencies. For instance, the US military uses ESD-safe packaging for fire control systems on the M-1 tank and F-18 aircraft. Defective parts due to ESD could compromise safety for the armed forces.

3. Increasing efficiency.

Implementing ESD-safe technology increases efficiency for suppliers and end users in a few ways. First, packaging companies can worry less about product damage while shipping thanks to the protective materials dissipating energy. These businesses can safely transport their goods to customers while decreasing returns and warranty claims. Otherwise, the electronic devices will need repair or replacement before the end user opens the package.

ESD packaging also improves efficiency through its environmental consciousness. Many companies implement recyclable materials to prevent electrostatic damage inside their parcels.

For instance, a device arriving in a metalized bag can see multiple uses before reaching the end of its life, reducing the need for single-use packaging. Other businesses may use mycelium and other compostable materials to increase sustainability. Research shows packaging accounts for 45% of emissions in ecommerce, so increasing environmental consciousness is critical.

4. Welcoming a new era of shipping.

Shipping has changed in the last decade due to increased calls for sustainability, so ESD-safe packaging is one way businesses can reduce their carbon footprint. This transition has led brands to explain the new concept to their customers.

For decades, companies have had to use the ESD susceptibility symbol to indicate vulnerable electronics inside the package. Now, brands tout ESD-safe packaging by demonstrating its sustainability and how it protects a device’s long-term health.

How does ESD-safe packaging work?

ESD packaging is essential for transporting electronics and maintaining peace of mind. What materials do manufacturers use to increase safety? Here’s a look at how ESD-safe packaging works.

Materials:

The core of ESD-safe packaging starts with its materials. Here are a few different approaches businesses take in creating ESD-safe packaging:

• Anti-static: Anti-static materials are among the most common in ESD-safe packaging because they’re excellent in deterring tribocharging. Removing static from the parcel means there’s a lower chance of electricity buildup and compromised devices.

• Conductive: Some companies use conductive materials like metal because they remove energy from components inside the package. Therefore, the electricity level remains tolerable and won’t build up to create ESD.

• Dissipative: Dissipative materials differ from other ESD-safe packaging because they slow electricity and protect the electronics inside. The electrical charge becomes weaker and less destructive to the components, considering the damage that can occur on the trip.

Packaging examples:

As ESD-safe packaging rises, more companies are finding ways to implement this practice into their shipments. Here are a few examples you’ll see on the market.

• Shielding bags: Shielding bags are a practical packaging choice because they use metalized film to block static and electromagnetic charges. Shielding bags emulate Faraday cages and typically consist of aluminum and treated plastic. Companies often use this material for medical devices, aircraft equipment, and other sensitive materials that need enhanced protection.

• Stretch film: Stretch film is another common material for reducing ESD because its anti-static properties minimize static. Manufacturers will blend polyethylene with other materials and treat it with other chemicals to prevent ESD buildup. You’ll typically see stretch film on machines and pallets handling packages to heighten safety.

• Bubble wrap: Anti-static bubble wrap is standard for many tech retailers because it’s a dissipative material that provides additional physical protection. For instance, you may see it when ordering a computer’s motherboard or hard drive.

A safer future for electronics.

The need for electronics grows with increased populations and business opportunities worldwide. Medical wearables, for example. Logistics companies must find ways to protect these devices during shipping and storage to ensure functionality and customer satisfaction. ESD-safe packaging has become more prevalent in recent years because it protects electronics while complying with sustainability goals.

About the Author(s)

Jack Shaw

Senior Writer and Editor, Modded

Jack Shaw is a Senior Writer and Editor at Modded. He’s from New York, NY, and has more than six years of experience writing for the men’s lifestyle niche. When not writing, Shaw can be found playing with his pets, cooking, training, or out exploring.

Shaw has covered everything from cars to sports to men’s health. You might even call him a Jack-of-all-trades. His writings have been featured in OffRoad XtremeSportsEd TVBarBend, and more.

Reach him at [email protected], on LinkedIn, or via his digital portfolio at JackHenryShaw.com.

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