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The Computerized Epilator
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Troubleshooting & Stopping The Unwanted Electrostatic Discharge



 

 

Author Kimberly Williams, R.E., Dean

Massachusetts Licensed & Registered Electrologist

Guest Lecturer of Harvard Medical School

Founder & Owner of Boston Electrolysis

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Scottsdale, Arizona 85251

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Given the nature of the field of electrolysis, pun inevitable, one would expect that there would be more collegial discourse about the electromechanical issues associated with professional grade electrolysis equipment. I, however, am positive that there is not one electrolysis school that anticipates this aspect of professional practice or that has an electricity course that instructs an electrologist how to eliminate and neutralize the unwanted Electrostatic Discharge. Nonetheless with the advancement of Computerized Epilators the electrologist has to make it her or his business to comprehend computerized electrolysis-electrology technology in the Electrolysis Industry and its requisite for one to learn how to maintain office equipment in prime operating condition. Experience is the best teacher and manufacturers of electrolysis equipment could not foresee how something as simple and common as an everyday Electrostatic Discharge could damage and shut down an electrologist's biggest investment, the Computerized Epilator.

 

For the electrologist who owns a computerized epilator and lives in a cold climate or in a hot, dry climate with a controlled environment (air conditioning), one or even two anti-static mats are necessities, no if and or butts about it. The computerized epilator is wonderful, a dream compared to its prototypes but it is useless when packed up and sent off to the factory to be repaired, first once and then a second time and even a third.  The computerized electrolysis epilator with all its wonders and advancements is very susceptible to the unwanted electrostatic discharges generated simply from an electrologist walking across the room and touching the computerized epilator. That much energy and a strong electrostatic discharge jumps from the electrologist to the epilator scrambling the computer's memory and toasting display screen to use the breakfast-referenced vernacular. The first startling zap aside, the real shock comes with learning that the LCD (liquid Crystal Display) will need to be replaced, and if the machine is no longer under warranty that's a real bummer too, about $300.00 or more plus shipping, down time, and overall hassle!

 

Here it is important to note that, even when a computerized programmable epilator seems to be functioning just fine, accumulated minor electrostatic discharges are causing damage with each small shock. Eventually, one day without warning the machine will quit and the electrologist is left baffled and asking herself what the heck happened to "my State Of The Art computerized epilator?" Manufacturers of computerized epilators did not foresee this problem with electrostatic discharges and even now that it is a known phenomenon to watch for, rarely is this information part of the conversation with the electrologist before or at the time of purchase.

 

Having talked with other electrologists I have learned that one strong electrostatic discharge can short out a brand-name epilator's liquid crystal display screen rendering the epilator useless until repaired. When a machine is under warranty, most manufacturers will repair at no charge. In this tight economy, however, some computerized electrolysis epilator manufacturers repair departments are not covering this unforeseen technology glitch and they will charge for parts and labor even if the warranty had only lapsed one day. Business is business after all. One would expect that with one fix, the electrologist would be duly forewarned of the conditions which could cause the short to occur again. It does seem that manufacturers are rather quiet when the electrologist asks "what happened?" Some manufacturers claim it was a defective liquid crystal screen, a surge in electricity, or the connection was weak. When it happens a second time everything changes especially when the electrologist complains to the manufacturer; the electrologist is then informed it could be other problems. Nonetheless, nine out of ten times, on the second repair the manufacturer balks but ultimately repairs the computerized epilator under warranty.  Three, however, is no charm where this is concerned. Should the machine short again, and it will happen unless preventative measures are employed, the manufacturer will inform the electrologist to correct the problem. Easier said than done!

 

How Strong Is Static Electricity?

 

As we scuff our shoes on a rug on a dry winter day, our bodies can charge up to a potential of several thousand volts with respect to the ground. This is a well-known fact in physics, and is easily verifiable by an electric meter. Touch the grounded object, and a spark will leap between the object and your fingertip. This kind of electric spark can only exist when a high voltage is present. Even the tiniest spark requires about 500 volts. Big, nasty, painful sparks require a much higher voltage, up to several thousand volts. However, when no sparks are jumping, there is a high voltage between your charged body and the ground thus your charged body is surrounded with an invisible electric field. So a painful electrostatic discharge from touching that hurts and shocks you definitely has enough volts to fry a computer.

 

Comprehending Static Electricity

 

All electrologists must be knowledgeable and take into consideration that the best quality computerized epilators are made in dust-free rooms in an antistatic environment and further that most manufacturers genuinely did not foresee this problem. Additionally, an electrostatic discharge is something that most computerized epilator manufacturers still have not take into consideration after it has become a well-known problem and complaint in the electrolysis profession. Depending upon climatic changes and the way your office building was constructed, working conditions can cause serious, unwanted, damaging electrostatic discharges on a daily basis. With all this, computerized electrolysis epilator manufacturers still omit this subject from their manuals ever since the first computerized epilator was introduced to the market in 1985.  Numerous electrologists have paid repair costs and shipping costs, and incurred down-time and the costs of doing business all as a result of a blind spot in high technology.

 

What is static electricity?

 

Looking back I chuckle and laugh at electrologists in Miss Kelly's School of Electrology who vociferously complained "why do we need to learn the technical terms of electricity when all we is plug our machine in?" When attending Miss Kelly's School of Electrology To her credit, Lila, our instructor, briefly mentioned the subject of Static Electricity. With today's State Of The Art computerized epilators, however, it is an absolute requisite that one thoroughly understands how static electricity works and how it affects the practice of electrolysis. Static electricity is an electric charge caused by an unevenness of electrons on the exterior of a material e.g. the keyboard of you computerized epilator. It is usually caused by the repeated contact and separation of materials. The area of contact, the speed of separation, relative humidity and other factors determine the amount of the charge generated in this process. Cold climates or dry polar air in the winter, cooler months and climate controlled air-conditioning create ideal conditions for strong, unwanted electrostatic discharges that will damage equipment.  In Arizona and other Southwestern states where a dry climate (low humidity) predominates for up to ten months of the year and most if not all office spaces are air-conditioned, the prime conditions for generating static electricity could not be better established.

 

What Causes an Electrostatic Discharge?

 

A typical occurrence causing an electrostatic discharge would be a person walking across a carpeted floor. Static electricity is generated as the shoe soles make contact with and then lift from the floor surface. The amount of static electricity generated actually increases due to the surface area of the shoe sole; lower humidity and increased speed of movement also increase the charge.

 

The shock we receive upon touching each other or another object is the transference of the static charge or balancing of the electrical charge to that of the object. This transfer is called Electrostatic Discharge also known as ED.

 

For all intents and purposes, all resources including water and dirt particles in the atmosphere are subject to this incidence. The charge that is produced, where it goes and how rapidly it transfers are reliant on the material characteristics of the equipment it comes in contact with.

 

There are three basic types of Electrostatic Discharge (ED).

 

   1. Direct ED to the electric device (Most Common)

   2. ED from the apparatus.

   3. Field/Ground induced ED

 

1. Direct electrostatic discharge to your equipment or your computerized epilator: Walking across a room generates a static-charge and touching the device causes the transfer of the electrostatic discharge. A similar incidence happens when the electrostatically charged electrical device is brought in contact with an additional object.

 

2. Electrostatic Discharge from an apparatus or automated part: Activities within a device can produce an electrostatic charge. This discharges when making contact with another device or object.

 

3. Field/Ground Induced Electrostatic Discharge – Nonetheless an object can become electro-statically charged where there is an electrostatic field coupled or connected with that electrostatic-charge.  If a computerized epilator, computerized device or a non-computerized epilator is placed in that field, a charge may result on it.  If the epilator is momentarily grounded while within that field a transfer of charge from the device will occur.

 

There Are Two Categories of Damage that an Electrostatic Discharge Can Create.

 

1 .Catastrophic – a complete or partial functional crash of the computerized epilator and the area that most often is damaged is the LCD (Liquid Crystal Screen).


2. Latent Defect – a partial, ongoing degrading of the computerized and non computerized epilators will down grade its productivity, longevity, and efficacy for quality treatments.


What Can The Electrologist Do To Prevent Electrostatic Discharges
?

 

One cannot eliminate the generation of static electricity in the work place therefore it is requisite to safely disperse and "neutralize" all electrostatic discharges that happen. This can be easily accomplished by appropriate grounding in combination with the use of conductive or anti-static dissipative mats.

 

Materials are rated as if their surface receptivity.

A conductive surface is rated form 101 to 105 ohm. An Anti-Static (Static-Dissipative) surface ranges from 105 to 1012 ohm and a non non-conductive Insulator is rated higher than 1012 ohm. The most proficient neutralization of Electrostatic Discharges is 101 ohm and the slowest is just under 1012 ohm.

 

Conductive Mats from 101 to 105 ohm have a low electrical resistance which allows Electrostatic Discharges to flow across its surface. When attached to an earth grounding point the Electrostatic Discharges will flow to the ground and the excess charge on both the mat and individual will be neutralized.

 

Anti-Static Mats (105 to 1012 ohm) have a higher electrical resistance than conductive mats. Like conductive mats they will allow Electrostatic Discharges to flow across its surface but at a slower rate. This slower neutralization of Electrostatic Discharges prevents damage to the ultra-sensitive micro-circuitry of computerized epilators which cannot tolerate a sudden flow of an electrostatic charge from the device to a grounded mat. Also synthetic poly-urethane and plastic casings used on computerized and non-computerized epilators are highly conductive and increase the amount of Electrostatic Discharges.

 

From personal experience, I discovered an additional culprit in regards to generating unwanted static electrical charges in my office. The carpet in my office was laid down on concrete with little or no rubber backing which generates strong static electrostatic discharges depending upon moisture levels and climate controlled office environments. From this one can see that it is important for the electrologist to have an understanding of the construction of her or his professional workspace.

 

How To Neutralize Electrostatic Discharges

 

Then most effective intervention is to purchase an anti-static mat. The initial cost will be offset by the costs of repeated shipping and repairs for an unprotected machine. I opted for and ordered a special five by six foot heavy duty grounded ant-static mat from E-Mat, the cost $287.00, expensive, yes but peace of mind that it will put an end to unwanted electrostatic discharges.  In making this purchase I discovered that it is best to make sure that you take the time to research if this is the best solution to your static electricity problem. Another problem is the modern computerized epilators with the polyurethane AKA plastic outside casings which are excellent conductors of electrostatic discharges. Example the earlier version Series Three R.A. Fischer CBX Pro-Blend with the wooden end pieces is virtually immune to strong electrostatic discharges.  I did see one succumb once but I was lucky and the machine was not damaged. Compare this to the latest R.A. Fischer Series Four CBX Pro-Blend which has high quality polished polyurethane sides instead of wood on earlier models that leave it prone to electrostatic discharges.  I love this machine but to date mine has been repaired twice and this is the reason for the antistatic mats.

 

It's most important to note that an ungrounded conductive or anti-static mat will retain an Electrostatic Discharges and transfer the charge to the next object with which it comes into contact. It is recommended that all computerized and non-computerized epilators, electrical devices, conductive and anti-static mats be grounded. This requires setting up equipment such that the electrical outlet into which the computerized epilator is plugged also be the same common point for the ground, thus bringing all components into one singular and identical electrical potential.

 

Selecting The Non-Conductive Antistatic Mat

 

Selection of the correct type of Electrostatic Neutralizing Mat is determined by the following factors:

 

Rate of Neutralization – for the majority, most applications and anti-static mats that neutralize electrostatic charge in the range of 105 to 1011 ohm will efficiently handle and dissipate or eliminate most if not all static situations in the electrologists treatment area. The dissipation of electro-static charges will happen at a rapid but controlled velocity.

 

Purpose – Addresses Vital Criteria Such As Anti-Fatigue, Slip Resistance & Decorative

 

Surroundings – Require deliberation and the type of the floor that the mat will be placed upon such as carpeted or hard surfaces. Selecting the wrong mat on a carpeted floor can result in a trip hazard or that mat that is constantly shifting. Most vinyl and rubber conductive anti-static mats will not withstand the use of chairs or carts. The weight and action of the wheels cause the mats to move and in a short amount of time it will breakdown. The best anti-static control mats are specially designed for use on carpeting or under wheeled chairs should be used for these situations.

 

Wrist and Shoe Straps?

 

Wrist and Shoe Straps are designed to provide the highest level of contact with an electrologist and an anti-static dissipative control device such as; floor mat, work surface, ground plug, etc.. They serve as an accurate channel for the removal of static electricity.  Simply wearing a strap accomplishes nothing unless proper contact is made to a grounded anti-static removal device.  

 

Selecting the proper product for a situation can be ascertained by comparing your needs to the information I have listed.  While it would be wonderful to purchase one product that would eliminate every anti-static electrical problem this is not often possible.  Unwanted Static-Electrical charges are a problem that is unique to the computerized epilator of which there are many factors which are distinct to an electrologist's daily operation of her or his practice.  I would estimate that 99% of all electrologists are not aware of unwanted electrical static charges until it scrambles or damages their expensive State Of The Art computerized epilator. Even under warranty, most manufacturers of computerized epilators dread the phone call from an electrologist who says, "Hey my brand new computerized epilator crashed, what's the problem"? The best method of dealing with static electricity problems is to implement solutions that are least invasive to individuals such as an anti-static floor mat. 

 

Often a small change will completely solve the problem but sometimes it only decreases the overall potential for ED's.  The electrologist may need to use additional remedies from the least intrusive to the point that the electrologists are required to wear heel grounders to wrist straps. However, I recommend one call the experts listed below to troubleshoot and solve any unwanted static electrical charges that damage one's computerized and non-computerized epilators.

 

Installation of Your Anti-Static Mat


Photo 1 Installing Ground Wires



Photo 2 Installing The Table-Top Anti-Static Mat Equipment Cart With Ground Plug



Photo 3 Restocking Your Equipment Tray



Photo 4 Sample Floor Mat



The Final Results

Since the installation of these mats I have not had one tiny electrostatic discharge in the treatment room. This gives me peace of mind knowing that I have protected my investment and my business.


Where can you purchase you Antistatic Mat?




I recommend E-Mat in Sarasota, Florida . It took a couple of weeks working with Doug at E-Mat before I made my purchase. For the record, I found everyone at E-mat most helpful, polite and they are most knowledgeable in addition to their prompt, courteous service.

 

"If in doubt give Doug Eastman a call (877-511-3628 lower-48 or 941-778-0974 outside the lower-48). He can recommend a variety of solutions to every electrologists problem."

 

A lot of electrologists would think that using a computerized epilator is technologically demanding and therefore would be tempted to continue using their old outdated solid-state manual epilator. Using old equipment risks your patient's safety and the quality of their treatment because the machine does not have internal monitors like a computerized epilator. A computerized epilator will self diagnose and let the electrologist know whether the issue is a frayed or worn probe holder cord or wand cord. More, the epilator will not function until the problem is corrected or repaired. The advantages of a computerized epilator clearly outweigh any concerns about dealing with the correlates of higher technology. And with a sound understanding about Static Electricity an electrologist should not have any problems with upgrading to and operating a computerized epilator.

Thank you for your time and attention,

 

Kimberly Williams, R.E., Dean

Founder of Boston Electrolysis Private Practice

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