A new cleanroom laboratory is being used to help in the development and testing of plastics used in clean manufacturing.
UK manufacturer of specialist plastics components, igus has taken delivery of a Fraunhofer IPA laboratory facility, which includes cleanroom cabinets for use in accelerating the development of “motion plastics” suitable for use in cleanroom facilities.
To develop new particle-free motion plastic products suitable for use in cleanrooms, Fraunhofer IPA designed and built the tailor-made ISO Class 1 cleanroom laboratory for igus, which is based in the 3,800 square-metre igus test laboratory in Cologne, Germany.
It is equipped to test all igus products, including energy chains, cables, linear bearings, robot gearboxes and plain bearings and has been designed to comply with ISO Class 14644-14 – an internationally recognised standard that stipulates the permissible quantity of particles allowed in a cleanroom.
Matthew Aldridge, Managing Director, igus UK, said: “Our products have been developed for moving applications and high levels of stress. This new laboratory means we can now carry out long-time endurance tests under realistic conditions, improve our products in a short time and implement customer-specific test set-ups.”
To comply with ISO Class 1, the laboratory includes a gowning room, which engineers must pass through before entering the main laboratory. This contains two laminar flow boxes in which the cleanroom tests take place. For larger test set-ups, the boxes can be connected to each other. The required air filtering and processing hardware is fitted in place to meet the ISO cleanroom classification standard.
With powerful microelectronics proving increasingly essential for networking, artificial ntelligence, electromobility and the rollout of 5G, the manufacturers of semiconductors are having to increase the R&D investment into production line technology.
Products for use in cleanrooms
Rebecca Barnes, Industry Specialist for Cleanroom Technology at igus UK, said: “The semiconductor industry continues to grow and has a lot of potential for igus motion plastics and we are excited to be launching four new products for cleanroom technology this year.”
These include a modular e-skin as a single-pod variant with individually connectable cable chambers – which can be easily opened and filled, – and the new e-skin SKS20 for short travels in confined spaces.
In semiconductor manufacturing, components such as energy chains and cables must meet the highest standards regarding the release of particles. The development and production of QLEDs and microchips takes place in cleanrooms with almost particle-free conditions. This is because contamination, no matter how small, can destroy the circuit of a smartphone, for example.
igus has included energy supply components and wear-resistant high-performance polymers in its range of products since 2001, in the form of the e-skin and the E6 product family. These are specifically designed for use in cleanrooms and have been certified according to the Fraunhofer “tested device” standard