Some products in the high-tech industry only work when they are free of pollution. To achieve this, explicit attention is required to surface cleanliness throughout the process from design to delivery: The theme for Clean Event 2022, which will be held on May 17 by Mikrocentrum. What this entails and what role the Dutch industry plays in this is stated, among other things, in the working method of the manufacturer of electron microscopes Thermo Fisher Scientific.
Clean production essential for Dutch high technology
It is hard to imagine that a single particle, which is not even visible to the naked eye, can completely disrupt the function of a product. Yet this is the reality of equipment for use in, for example, the medical world, aerospace, semiconductors, laboratories or the automotive industry.
Know what you are measuring
Cees van Duijn is a specialist in the processes of cleaning parts and products and knows: ‘A surface is never clean. For high-tech products, it is therefore important to clean these surfaces before the assembly process. The complexity of the cleaning processes required depends on the material to be cleaned and the type of contamination. Different types of pollution can be detected using different measurement methods, such as surface tension measurement or residual gas analysis. Knowledge in combination with the material gives direction to the choice of the right cleaning process. ‘
100% access control
Thermo Fisher Scientific is a company that deals daily with parts that need to be (ultra) clean: designer and manufacturer of electron microscopes. Rients de Groot: ‘Electron microscopes work with electrons instead of visible light to make very small elements visible down to the atomic level. The internal vacuum in these instruments is extremely sensitive to contamination, both molecular and particulate pollution. A particle that reaches the electron beam interferes with imaging, while molecular contamination can lead to damage to the sample to be examined. ‘
In order to deliver a microscope with optimal performance, the company’s attention to surface unit starts in the design phase and then extends through the manufacturing processes and cleaning for assembly, packaging and delivery to the customer. Ton van den Broek: ‘Because there is a vacuum in an electron microscope, in the design phase you have to choose materials that do not degas in a vacuum environment. These processes interfere with the quality of the vacuum and thus the reliable operation of the microscope. ‘ Furthermore, all parts of suppliers are 100% checked on arrival and then cleaned after all. This is the only way the company is able to meet its own high purity requirements.
After the correct cleaning process, the components are dried and burned in a high vacuum oven (diffusion cleaning). All possible residual contamination is ‘pulled’ out of the pores. Finally, the parts are encased in the inert gas nitrogen to prevent chemical processes on the surface that can contaminate the parts. Rients de Groot: ‘The same care is taken when assembling all parts – for example, by starting the assembly within 24 hours – and finally during packaging and transport to the customer.’
Strong in pure
Cees van Duijn concludes: ‘For various reasons, Dutch industry is a leader when it comes to’ cleanliness’. In the Eindhoven area, for example, you will see many companies focusing on this theme; especially suppliers developing high-tech machines or devices operating under high vacuum. Companies like Thermo Fisher Scientific operate with extremely high levels of purity; ASML is again focusing on a very comprehensive supply chain.
Finally, in the Netherlands we have VCCN: Association Contamination Control Netherlands. Among other things, ISO standards are being developed here, which are used all over the world as a standard. You can only do that as a country if you are taken seriously by the rest of the world in this area. A good cause; precise equipment and with this attention to surface cleanliness is becoming increasingly important. ‘
Clean Event 2022
All disciplines that play a role in achieving and maintaining an optimal surface unit will meet for Clean Event 2022, which will take place on 17 May in Veldhoven. Look for the program and access