Additive manufacturing (AM), commonly called 3D printing, isn’t just for rocket scientists anymore. Its use has increased exponentially as companies and researchers discover useful applications and innovative methods. Availability of equipment and supplies for performing three-dimensional printing is becoming almost commonplace; it’s just a matter of time before retailers start to offer 3D printing services, or a few mavericks begin to do it in their homes (broken coffee cup? No problem; I’ll just make another one!).
Cleanrooms are a large investment, putting a lot of responsibility and pressure on the owner and project engineers. As with any large investment, the aspiration is to formulate the perfect design the first time. While those expectations may be high, facilities can reduce time and expenses with careful planning and strict project management practices. There are also many considerations to make in the cleanroom’s pre-planning stage. Such as?
What is a Semiconductor?
“Semi-conductors,” also known as integrated circuits (ICs) or chips, are components with more electrical conductivity than insulators, but less electrical conductivity than conductors, as measured by the potential activity of charged electrons. They are ubiquitous in our society: anything with an ON/OFF switch contains an integrated circuit. Metalloid elements such as the abundant silicon (Si) are used as the chips’ substrate. When manufactured, impurities are deliberately added (a process called “doping”) to alter the conductivity characteristics, making them more suitable as electronic-device components. Common dopants are arsenic or boron, each with a different quantity of outer electrons that create positive or negative charges and electron “holes.” In a move away from electronic technologies such as vacuum tubes and crystal diodes in 1958, semiconductor components have allowed companies to continually create devices that are smaller, faster and less expensive.
Cleanrooms are used to perform clean processes, so it’s counterintuitive to think of maintenance and repair activities inside a controlled environment. Yet, they are very necessary and performed quite often. Protocol for crews working inside a cleanroom is different than the typical office space: personnel must gown and adhere to strict clean processes, just like lab technicians. The equipment crews bring into the cleanroom must also be compatible with the required ISO rating. Slow, careful movements and meticulous control over dust and other contaminants are critical to prevent complete shut-down and time-consuming recertification of the room.
IsoDry desiccator cabinets are the latest, patent-pending innovation in desiccators from Terra Universal. Desiccators are containers designed to reduce relative humidity (RH) for moisture-sensitive stored items, either by purging the container consistently with nitrogen, using silica gel desiccants or pulling vacuum. The IsoDry desiccators use nitrogen to accomplish this task, both in achieving and maintaining a humidity “set-point.”
Pass-through chambers streamline workflow by giving personnel a fast, efficient way to transfer objects into, and out of, spaces with different ISO ratings. Facilities save man-hours and expense by avoiding time-consuming gowning. How else can pass-through chambers help the lab’s bottom line?