A cleanroom is an environment maintained to ensure minimal levels of environmental pollutants such as dust, airborne microbes, aerosol particles, and chemical vapors. It is critical for many applications, including life science testing, semiconductor, inspection, and electronics manufacturing, where contamination must be avoided. To ensure this happens, all equipment in the cleanroom must be contaminant free as well. When manufacturing components for use in a cleanroom, including linear mechanics, strict procedures must be followed to achieve cleanroom specifications.
Although these moving components will particulate, linear mechanics can still be manufactured and assembled for cleanroom certification, if you consider the quantity and location of particulate formation. In addition, several other variables in an application must be thought about to properly meet these performance requirements, including:
Absence or presence of laminar airflow over the stage
Maintaining safety and environmental standards in a cleanroom is critical for application success. To achieve this, it is important to have a fume hood present. The laminar airflow is ideal for applications that require precision linear mechanics and a clean working environment, such as parts inspection, or optic assemblies.
Motion profile (acceleration, speed, etc.)
For any application requiring linear mechanics, it’s necessary to have the correct motion profile for the linear positioner. This is especially the case for cleanroom applications to ensure the clean environment isn’t compromised. If the motion profile is incorrect, the positioner’s motor may overheat, or damage to the internal components can occur. Both issues would affect a cleanroom environment negatively as new particle pollutants would be introduced to the air.
What direction is your linear stage’s motion (horizontal, vertical, upside down)? In a cleanroom, mounting orientation impacts the release of particles into the atmosphere. The best mounting solution, if it can be achieved, is to keep the moving components below the work area.In addition, a right-side-up mounting orientation does a better job of trapping particles inside the system than a vertical or upside-down orientation.
Point of interest relative to the stage
When designing your cleanroom environment, you must consider the location of the linear positioner and sample attached at its max travel. The entire system should remain under the fume hood to ensure the cleanroom status is maintained. Even if only a small fraction of the positioner is exposed to the outside environment, contamination can still spread to the entire cleanroom. This will surely affect the performance of the linear actuator.
As you can see, there isn’t one standard way to set-up a cleanroom environment properly while using linear mechanics. Each variable should be reviewed for every application to ensure the positioner is appropriate for cleanroom use. At Parker, we offer a wide array of precision linear positioners suitable for applications in a cleanroom environment.
All our linear mechanics to be used in a cleanroom goes through a standard testing procedure to make sure they are within boundary conditions per Federal Standard 209E and ISO Standard 14644. One of these products is the miniature square rail, mSR series. It is ideal for cleanroom use due to the limited number of contact surfaces in its design.
There are various cleanroom applications the mSR can be used for including:
- Life science applications like microscopy, or digital pathology due to a low profile and high precision
- Semiconductor metrology applications due to its straightness, flatness, and high precision.
- Can be used as a positioner for electronics manufacturing due to the combination of small size, yet high acceleration and speed capacity
Discover more about Parker’s mSR series and other linear positioners for cleanroom environments, visit our website or contact us to discuss your application needs.
Article contributed by Patrick Lehr, product manager for precision mechanics, Electromechanical and Drives Division North America, Parker Hannifin Corporation.
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