When two different materials are rubbed together, often electrons are transferred from one to the other. If this happens the two materials will become oppositely charged, and since UNLIKE CHARGES ATTRACT, the two materials will attract each other.
Static electricity can be generated using a wide range of different materials, but they have one thing in common – they are all insulators.
It can be generated in everyday situations. Lightning is the product of massive amounts of static electricity. Getting in and out of a car, walking on a carpet... Cathode ray televisions produce static electricity every time they are switched on – just touch the screen to see.
Static electricity can be very dangerous. A plane may accumulate static electricity as it refuels. This may generate a spark cause an explosion. To prevent this, when a plane is refuelled, it is earthed. It is connected to the ground by a conductor so any accumulated static electricity may flow to earth.
It can also be very useful. Inkjet printers, photocopiers use to direct ink to the right parts of paper. Machines that spray paint cars in factories use it to direct the paint to the car body.