Determining the cause of static buildup

Thread Starter


Joined Sep 21, 2011
Hi all

At my workplace, we have polycarbonate sheets which are very prone to static build-up. This is a huge headache when trying to process these sheets through the machine. What we noticed is that when we isolate the feeding area of the machine with a curtain, the static build-up decreases by a lot.

I plan to do some testing to understand the difference with and without the curtain. Plan is to monitor the temperature, humidity, air flow (for air conditioning system etc), static in the air.
Does anyone have any experience with similar situations? Also, do you know of any good anemometer (for measuring air flow generated by the air conditioning unit, i.e. it has to be sensitive) and a static meter for monitoring any static on the environment (not on the material per se)

Any kind of recommendations would be highly appreciated.


Joined Sep 24, 2015
Low humidity is a good way to generate static electricity. Parts rubbing against each other is the leading cause of static buildup. In a thunder storm ice crystals bump into one and other building up static energy until there's enough to produce a strike of lightning. It's all a process of the same function; "Tribo-Electric effect". Increasing humidity will diminish the buildup of static, but won't completely eliminate it. Ever notice when you take clothing out of the dryer you sometimes get that static snap? Clothes tumbling and rubbing against each other in a dry environment is the reason. When the clothes are wet they don't build up static electricity. But if you tumble them beyond slightly damp you can get a lot of static electricity.

The best way I know of to eliminate (or greatly minimize) static buildup is with the use of ionized air showering the parts that are becoming charged. Positive ions will be attracted to negative charges while negative ions are attracted to positive charges. The charges will be canceled out and you won't have that issue any longer. That and an increased level of humidity.

In winter gas station fires are more common because people put the pump in the tank and while the tank fills they sit in their car. When they get out of the car - in the super dry environment - static charges build up on the person. When they reach for the gas nozzle the static discharge can ignite the gas fume rich environment and result in a fire. Since women are more prone to sit in the car while filling the tank they are statistically more prone to gas station fires caused by static buildup. The way to eliminate static charge before reaching for the gas nozzle is to touch the metal frame of the car BEFORE you reach for the nozzle.

One false belief is cell phones cause fires. That's simply not true. The radio emissions they generate are too weak to start a spark that can ignite a fire. And since many cell phones these days are water proof - it would stand to reason they're also gas fume proof.

That's a bit off subject, but the crux of the problem is dry air and parts rubbing against each other, or other parts of machinery. Start with checking the ground connection of the machine. If static builds up in a machine and it's not properly grounded you can get static buildup as well.