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What causes static electricity in a print or workshop environment and how can I sort it?

Posted by Matthew Painter on

The question of static build up and how to solve and prevent this comes up often when we talk with our customers about how to improve their print and finishing processes. Charges of static electricity will often build up in an environment where there is friction and heat, a very common situation for any print or workshop environment.

Click here to view anti-static solutions.

Static electricity is a temporary build up of a stationery electric charge on a material or surface (electricity used for power consists of moving charges). This is caused by imbalances in electrical charges on that material, and the static electricity can attract dust or fibres and result in shocks when touched or earthed.

Most modern print machines now have built in static discharge contacts or brushes. These will continuously disperse any static electricity build up as the print is happening. All new photocopiers will have this equipment built in and you will very rarely notice any problems with most equipment like this.

Where static build up is still a big problem is with longer and modular finishing lines for laminating, collating, creasing, folding and mail fulfillment. Here static may build up fast and cause problems in several ways. It can attract and disturb dust or fibres, risking clogging up and spoiling precision machinery. It is obviously annoying and unpleasant to receive an electric shock, and a large charge of static electricity can quickly build up in some circumstances, giving quite a powerful shock if you happen to touch the machinery at the wrong time. So it is definitely beneficial to stop this happening!

As static electricity messes up the normal neutral electric charge of materials you can suddenly find that a pile of printed or collated material simply won't lie flat or stay square when cutting or packing. We have encountered situations where whole print jobs have been ruined due to trying to trim sheets that were playing up with static and not lying properly on the guillotine cutting bed. 

There are many solutions to these problems, including adding thin strips of metal and fibre contacts to machinery to disperse any static build up. A mobile and quick-fix situation is to always keep an Anti Static Brush handy in a printroom or workshop. As these can be used anywhere they become a very valuable tool to address static build up in many situations. Simply sweep the brush over any surface, material or machinery to instantly disperse static and prevent shocks and the problems discussed above. 

Presco stocks different sizes of anti static brushes, click here to view. They can be used in any environment, for any purpose where static electricity build ups have become annoying, frustrating or even dangerous.


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