Saturday, August 8, 2009

Sorbency and Cleanliness: Bread and Butter Wiper Metrics

Perhaps the most commonly used metrics to compare consumables are sorbency and cleanliness. Sorbency, or the ability of a textile product to wick and hold liquid, can be a useful metric for cleanroom applications that may involve large liquid spills. An engineered cleanroom wiper removes liquid spills quickly and efficiently; one engineered cleanroom wiper can do the job of multiple wipers with inferior sorbency.

In cleanroom applications, cleanliness is obviously vital; a wiper that contributes to particle contamination is counterproductive in a fine cleanroom environment. Wiper cleanliness is affected by the environment in which the product was manufactured, as well as the means by which the wipers are finished, cut, and laundered. Quality wipers are produced in an appropriate cleanroom facility to minimize outside particle contamination in the products. Some wiper designs also feature bound or sealed edges to prevent fraying and fiber release.

Highly sorbent wipers can more thoroughly remove liquid spills and do the job more quickly, potentially preventing solid contaminants from being left behind. Wipers that arrive contaminant-free, with measures in place to prevent fraying textile material, avoid adding to the contamination problem.

But neither metric, that is, sorbency nor cleanliness, fully addresses a wiper’s ability to remove existing dry particle contamination from a cleanroom surface. Given the myriad potential entry points, particle contaminants including zinc, titanium, and silicone have a good chance of finding their way into a cleanroom facility. Effective removal can reduce the implication to a manufacturer’s bottom line, minimizing product loss and safeguarding yields.

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