Cleanroom garments are a vital component of maintaining an environment that is free from contaminants. What do they entail and require?
Cleanroom garments are a vital component of maintaining an environment that is free from contaminants. The purpose of installing a cleanroom is to have a manufacturing environment that will be free from airborne particles and contaminants, and, without proper apparel, the people working in a cleanroom can be a source of contamination. A particle can cause major disaster in a cleanroom, according to Roger McFadden’s cleanroom handbook for the Yale University College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. For example, NASA’s billion-dollar Hubble Space Telescope was damaged and did not perform as it was designed to because of a particle that was 200 times smaller than a human hair — about 0.5 microns, McFadden writes.
When sensitive manufacturing processes come into contact with human hair, skin oils, spittle, cosmetics, perfume or lint from clothing, the processes and the products can be irreparably damaged. Rather than risking the malfunction of products manufactured in your company’s cleanroom, make an effort to ensure that everyone who enters the room will be properly outfitted and equipped to complete their jobs without contaminating the environment.
Maintaining a proper cleanroom environment involves creating guidelines for outfitting your workers. While your organization’s guidelines may vary based on your products and manufacturing process, here are four best practices to consider:
1. Industry-Appropriate Fabrics
Various industries require different types of fabrics for the most reliable garments for their cleanrooms. For instance, reusable, woven fabrics are typically used in certified cleanrooms. In industries such as semiconductor, microelectronics, aerospace and nanotechnology, a fabric made of a polyester/carbon grid is most appropriate, according to Controlled Environments magazine. In the medical device, pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical, nutraceutical and food industries, a polyester/carbon stripe fabric is preferred. Nonwoven fabrics are usually used for disposable garments used in cleanrooms.
2. Heads and Hands Must Be Covered
If a person is working in a cleanroom, his or her head and hands should never be exposed. Gloves, face masks and head covers are standard in cleanrooms. Cintas’ CoreStock maintains a supply of hoods, gloves and other head coverings made from a variety of top-quality cleanroom fabrics.
3. Smocks and Jumpsuits Are Increasingly Required
If a manufacturing process or product may be sensitive to clothing fibers or lint, it may a good idea to add smocks or jumpsuits to the list of required garments for the cleanroom. Cintas also offers these and other full-body garments to help avoid contamination from workers’ clothing, skin or shoes.
4. Regular and Reliable Laundering
Not only must cleanroom workers wear the right garments when going into the cleanroom, but those garments must also be laundered in a way that avoids bringing unwanted contaminants into the room the next time they are used. The Cintas cleanroom resources operate a strategically located network of cleanroom garment processing facilities that feature process technology and have undergone ISO certification. A combination of ISO 9001 registration, process validation, computerized inventory management and bar-coding ensure benchmark quality and reliability.