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Zinc whiskers are microscopic filaments that can find there way onto data communication hardware and cause severe damages and power failure. These hazardous particles are formed from metal that has been electroplated (galvanized) with zinc to prevent rust. Due to internal compressive stress, galvanized zinc overlays are forced to expand outward to relieve the stress and in doing so cause zinc filaments to grow from the surface.
Data centre cleaning equipment and raised access flooring is often galvanized in zinc to protect against corrosion, however zinc whiskers have nothing to do with corrosive oxidation, and will inevitably occur on galvanized metal regardless of environmental conditions.
Zinc whiskers are often formed on the underside of galvanized raised flooring tiles, the filaments are often dislodged through maintenance procedures and the pressure exerted from people walking above.
Zinc whiskers are completely benign until dislodged, at which point they can become air borne and enter data and server room environments through the air conditioning vents. Once zinc whiskers have become airborne within data and server room environments, they can find their onto the hardware of equipment and cause short circuits and system failure. The devastation incurred by zinc whiskers often leaves no evidence as to the cause of damage, as the filaments can be vaporized in the process of causing short circuits, leaving data centre technicians clueless as to the reason to the damage.
More often than not the effects of zinc whiskers occur before it’s too late, it’s imperative for businesses with data centre and server room environments to call upon 1st Compucare to inspect their environment and conduct preventative remediation, in order to avert zinc whisker contamination and prevent permanent damages and hardware failure.
For data centres already contaminated with zinc whiskers, it is hugely important they enlist our services as soon as possible to minimise the cost of damage and expensive server downtime.