Packaging for products that go into a cleanroom

Transporting packaged product directly from the shipping dock to the manufacturing operation can increase efficiency if the packaging system is designed to easily accommodate the task.   We have several case studies and blogs relating to intra-plant transport of products using custom fabricated containers that not only enable efficient movement and loading of product to the manufacturing work center, but is returned to the supplier plant for subsequent reuse.   Doing these results in reduced packaging costs as well as increased labor efficiency.   One area that requires added attention and thought is transporting and packaging product that goes into a cleanroom.

A cleanroom is a controlled environment that is kept “clean”.  In manufacturing, a cleanroom is typically used to assemble or fabricate a product or component that is sensitive to contamination.   A typical cleanroom has the following characteristics:

  • The incoming air has special filtration
  • Walls, ceilings and floors are specially designed
  • People are usually required to wear special gowns when entering and may be restricted from wearing certain products such as makeup, lotions, perfumes and certain types of clothing
  • There are restrictions on the types of materials that can be brought in and in some cases special cleaning is required
  • There may be other features and requirements of cleanrooms depending on the nature of the product. Sometimes special air showers, anti-bacterial UV light, and facemasks are required.

Cleanroom are generally classified based on “how clean” it needs to be.  The typical classifications start at class 1 and goes all the way up to class 100000; the smaller the number on the classification, the cleaner the cleanroom and more restrictive the environment.   Most cleanrooms have procedures that restrict the following types of materials from being brought into a cleanroom:

  • Dust or dirt
  • Powders
  • Fibers
  • Wood or leather based materials
  • Pencils
  • Non-cleanroom paper
  • Gels or oils
  • Aerosol
  • Particles that are larger than what the classification of the cleanroom allows
  • Materials that tend to pick up static charges

The packaging and handling system must ensure that the type of contamination listed above does not get into the cleanroom.   The following are considerations for packaging containers used to transport product to or even into a cleanroom:

  • Only special non-fibrous materials should be used
  • Closed cell foam for cushioning
  • Plastic materials including bags should have a conductive coating to prevent static build up
  • Cardboard, fiberboard, paper or any wood based product should be avoided
  • Components might need to be individually wrapped with a special ESD plastic film that is removed immediately prior to entering the cleanroom.

Even with the above restrictions on the packaging, the component may need to go through a special cleaning process before being brought to the cleanroom.   Even with a pre-clean, the best strategy is to make sure the product does not get dirty during shipping and transport.  The dirtier the component is the more expensive and less effective the pre-cleaning will be.  Packnet has designed and fabricated packaging solutions for products that need to be processed in a cleanroom.  Call us at 952-944-9124 for more information on how Packnet can help with your cleanroom packaging.