As you must know, RAM is an important part of the computer where all the data, including the operating system, applications, and programs that are currently running, are stored.
They usually come in stick models that you can easily install on your PC. Physically, RAMs are made of a series of fragile chips.
Therefore, packing and shipping them can be a tricky business.
Read on to find out what kinds of damage can threaten your RAM through the process of shipping and how you can protect it against them.
You’ll also find out how you can package other small PC parts and a computer monitor.
What Is ESD?
We don’t want to get into the physics of this topic too much.
Still, some basic knowledge is necessary for people to understand why they should be extra careful when they want to pack and ship RAM or other computer components like a CPU or motherboard.
The phenomenon that we need to understand is ESD or Electrostatic Discharge.
It starts when the surfaces of two materials rub together.
An excess of electrons happens on one surface, and a deficiency on the other one.
One of them becomes positively charged, and the other negatively charged.
Usually, there isn’t a path through which the materials’ charge can flow.
Therefore, it’ll remain in place for some time, creating static electricity.
When it comes into contact with another specific material, an electronic discharge can happen.
This discharge is usually invisible, but it can generate a significant amount of heat.
An example of this is when you walk on a carpet and then touch a metal material or comb your hair with a plastic comb.
The discharge can be so small that it isn’t even measurable, or it could be as big as a lightning strike.
What Does ESD Have to Do with Packing RAMs?
RAMs are generally assembled from sensitive electronic components.
Semiconductors, integrated circuit microchips, and passive components like capacitors and resistors are considered static sensitive, and they’re pretty vulnerable to ESD.
That means the most negligible discharge, even those that are not visible to the human eye, is more than enough to cause serious problems.
More importantly, nowadays, components on many devices are getting smaller and smaller, which is good in many ways, but they become much more susceptible to ESD damage.
Let’s see how ESD can damage your RAM:
1. Burn Out
An ESD discharge can raise high levels of peak current, causing partial burnout.
The intense heat can melt or vaporize the local parts of the device, resulting in permanent damage.
The strong current may even fuse some areas in the chip or the interconnecting wire links.
That can damage the parts beyond repair or partially destroy them, leaving them vulnerable.
Because of the small dimensions of some ICUs, even low voltages can cause a breakdown in one of the device’s components.
4. Alternative Conduction Paths
Any way that the damage occurs, some destroyed materials can spread over the surface of the semiconductor, creating alternative conduction paths that may result in further damage.
5. Latent Failures
Sometimes, the ESD isn’t strong enough to wreck the device.
Instead, it damages the device partially, weakens it, and degrades its performance.
Many people have answered questions about packaging RAMs and other computer parts in different online chat rooms.
They declared that they had shipped many devices without any special packaging to prevent ESD, and they’ve arrived in working order.
However, they might not realize that they have considerably reduced the parts’ overall level of reliability, leaving them at risk of failing later in their lives.
You must also know that repairing failures caused by ESD can be very costly if it’s at all possible.
Now that we know the importance of preventing the RAMs from ESD damage, let’s find out how to pack them for shipping safely.
How to Ship RAM (Step-By-Step)
As explained before, RAM sticks are fragile, and you should pack them with extra care and precision.
Therefore, it is important not to skip any of the following steps:
1. Ensure that there’s no dust on the RAM and clean it carefully
2. If by any chance, you have the RAM’s original box, it’s best to put it in there
Pack it precisely the way you got it, and then tape the box.
If you don’t have the box, keep reading.
3. Put the RAM inside an anti-static bag
This will protect it from damage that electrostatic discharge may cause.
These bags are made of Polyethylene terephthalate, and you can purchase them from most shipping supply stores.
4. If you’re packing two or more RAMs, place each one in an individual anti-static bag so they won’t rub against each other and cause damage
5. Seal the bag with clear tape and wrap it with bubble wrap
You can also put it in a bubble-wrap bag and close the top.
Note: It’s possible to ship the RAMs inside a bubble-wrap bag, but they won’t provide the ultimate protection.
6. Purchase a box that’s slightly bigger than the RAM
7. Cushion the box properly and nest the RAM inside
8. Fill the empty spaces with bubble wrap, shredded paper, or packing peanuts
Make sure the RAM doesn’t move inside the box.
9. Use adhesive tape to close and seal the box
All sides and seams of the box should be secure.
10. label the package with “Handle with Care” and “Fragile” labels
Are There Any Alternatives to an Anti-Static Bag?
The best and safest option for packaging RAMs, motherboards, and other sensitive components is a commercially made anti-static bag.
As explained before, preventing ESD damage is essential, and it’s recommended that you do not skip this part.
However, if you don’t have access to anti-static bags, here are your second and third options.
A. Anti-Static Bubble Wrap
Despite what you might think, bubble wrap isn’t just used for protecting items from shipping damage.
There are different kinds of bubble wrap made for various purposes, and one of them is anti-static bubble wrap.
They’re usually pink, and they can protect electronics from static electricity and receiving shocks, as well as other types of damage.
You can purchase sheets of pink bubble wrap and wrap the RAM in multiple layers or get a ready-made anti-static bubble wrap bag.
B. Aluminum Foil
Before anti-static bags became commonly available, people used aluminum foil for packing and shipping these items:
1. First, wrap the RAM in some paper or shrink-wrap to insulate the unit.
2. Then fold or double fold some aluminum foil.
The piece should be big enough so you can wrap it well around the RAM.
Secure the edges, so the item doesn’t fall out.
3. Finally, wrap the item with some paper to protect the foil from getting ripped.
4. Remember, this package isn’t enough to prevent shipping damage.
You should wrap it in some bubble wrap and put it in a box.
Alternatively, you can put your foil-wrapped RAM in a bubble-wrap bag.
How to Package a Computer Monitor
Packaging a computer monitor is a tricky business because the fragile screen can easily get damaged during shipping.
Choose a reliable shipping service and avoid cheap ones, because the possible damage will cost you much more.
You should also do your part well in packing the monitor.
1. Try to find the original box that the monitor came in
Put the monitor and cords in their respective places, fill the voids with cushioning material if needed, and tape the box.
2. Separate the power cord and put it inside a protective zip-lock bag or plastic bag
Then, carefully wrap the bag in bubble wrap.
3. Cut a piece of foam wrap the same size as the computer monitor, and cover the monitor with it for protection
Put foam wedges on the sides of the monitor.
4. Wrap the monitor with bubble wrap
5. Get a box that’s slightly bigger than the monitor
Put the monitor and cords inside.
6. Fill the voids with cushioning material and packing peanuts
Make sure that the monitor can’t move.
7. Use adhesive tape to seal the package correctly
8. Use “Fragile” or “Handle with Care” labels on the box
How to Package Small PC Parts
Packaging small PC parts like a keyboard, mouse, headphones, and others that aren’t sensitive to electrostatic discharge is pretty straightforward.
Follow these steps:
1. Try to find the original box that the device came in
There’s no package more secure than that.
If you find it, place the item inside and fill the voids with cushioning material if necessary.
Tape the box and secure any torn parts.
Continue to the following steps if you don’t have the box.
2. For a keyboard, you should protect the sensitive keys with foam wrap and cardboard scrap
3. Wrap the item in bubble wrap and use tape to secure it
4. Take an appropriately sized box, put the item inside, and fill the voids with cushioning materials
5. Use adhesive tape to seal the box