Did you ever rub a balloon on your hair and stick it to the ceiling? The balloon sticks because you’ve created static electricity on the surface of the balloon. This energy is non-moving static charge. Every material is made up of atoms and they are the basic building blocks of ordinary matter and they can join to form molecules, which is a basic ingredient of most of the objects around us. An atom can hold a positive charge that is called a proton or a negative charge that is called an electron. Atoms with the same charge or polarity repel each other, while those with the opposite charge are attracted to each other. Just like the balloon scenario, static is created by the contact and separation of two materials. The same is true of when you walk across a carpet and touch the metal door knob and get a shock. We call these electrostatic forces, tribo-charging, which renders a plastic material in a state where it can attract dust and other particulates.
Let’s face it, we are using more plastic in our every day lives, from cars to single use medical devices that may end up inside of the human body. Plastic, being highly insulative, can store huge amounts of static electricity. If we just look at the medical device sector, one of the biggest reasons for rejects, rework and potential device failure, is from foreign particles that end up in the finished device. These particles could be in the form of airborne contaminants, plastic flash, skin flake, human hair and other debris that is found in the manufacturing process. Static eliminators in the form of ionizing air guns, nozzles and blowers are used to negate the ill effects of electrostatic forces that pull particles right out of the air and hold them to a device or components. The use of ionized air is absolutely a good practice, but the problem is “where do the particle go”? Typically, they hang around and end up on the worksurface to be a source of re-contamination or the particles end up downstream on already cleaned products.
Enter the Particle Trap 6000. The Particle Trap 6000 (PT6000) is the solution to getting rid of particles in the assembly and packaging areas of the medical device manufacturing process. The PT6000 is a source capturing system with a hepa filter on the exhaust. You can still use the conventional ionizing air blow-off devices, but when working in front of the opening of the PT6000, dislodged particles now are delivered through a pre-filter and then through the hepa filter, ensuring only clean air is let back into the room. The PT6000 is used not only to clean medical components, but it is especially helpful when used at the packaging level, just prior to the heat sealing of a lid stock to the thermoformed tray. The same would be true for pouching of products such as a catheter on a die cut card being slid into a long plastic bag and then sealed at the end. Normally, most medical device manufacturers do a 100% inspection for foreign matter/particles inside of the seal trays. If a particle is discovered, the lid is ripped off, the product taken out, recleaned and then repackaged. This reject rate is also called the tear down rate, which translates into poor yields, time and money along with customer dissatisfaction, when a product gets through that is not totally cleaned.
Who would benefit from the PT6000? The Particle Trap 6000 and its sister products, the PT Mini, Particle Trap CUBE and Medical Cleaning Systems. While the medical device sector has endorsed these products, they also have application in the optics, food and electronics industries for the same reason why all companies are looking to lower their tear down rates, which translates to higher profits. If you want to learn more about how Particle Trap products can help improve your process, please visit the Static Clean Website, www.staticclean.com or call us direct for expert technical advice.
Fighting to Win!
Last week I went to Toronto to attend a “Bell Ringing Ceremony”. Before I received the phone call invite from my niece who has been battling a cancerous brain tumor, I hadn’t heard of this particular event. Here is the back story. Cancer patients are subjected to 30 straight days of Radiation and Chemotherapy on an outpatient basis. In the hallway, outside of the treatment rooms mounted on the wall is a brass “Celebration Bell”. At the end of the treatment period, the family and friends of the patient meet at the hospital and help their loved ones “Ring the Bell”.
Next to the bell was a plaque that had the following saying.
“Ring this bell three times well – Its sound to clearly say – My treatment is done – This course is run – And I am on my way”.
Before I went into the Juravinski Cancer Center in Hamilton Ontario, I sat on a park bench near the entrance to the lobby and watched patients come and go. Many struggled on their way into the center, but more seemed to struggle after their rigorous treatments. It was a very sad, moving and thought provoking experience. However, it got me to thinking about cancer treatments and whether the day will come when there are less invasive methods to treat cancer, the number one killer in the world. Back in Boston, I did a little research and found out that static electricity, which is considered as part of Natural Medicine is in consideration and going through clinical trials, especially in Japan. Of course!!!
The thought behind using static electricity is nothing new to the medical community. In the Reading Eagle newspaper, dated September 2, 1951, a retired military surgeon by the name of Colonel Francis Usher suggested the use of static electricity as a possible new cancer treatment. His premise was that it would enhance existing treatments and possibly slow the growth or kill the cancer cells.
Back to the Future
Fast forward 60 years and many articles can now be found on using static electricity in the treatment of cancer and clinical trials are underway by a number or researchers. In a paper presented by Philip H. Gutin, MD, and Eric T. Wong, MD, they wrote about Tumor Treatment Fields (TTF) claiming that TTF treatment or an electric field has a superior safety profile, and its minor side effects do not seem to overlap with those of cytotoxic chemotherapies, targeted agents, or anti-angiogenesis drugs. Therefore, the rational combination of TTF therapy with specific pharmacological agents may enhance tumor cell death.
The definition of an electric field is attributed to Michael Faraday in the 1820s and was later formulated by James Clerk Maxwell in his electromagnetic theory in 1865. It is a field of electric forces that surround a source charge. When a test charge is placed within an electric field, a force acts on it because it is energy. By using a battery with a couple of wires on an AC or alternating current, tests are easy to conduct. Negative charges attract positive charges, while similar signed charges repel each other. Basically, two electrodes are placed at a given distance from each other on the human body in proximity to a tumor or cancerous cells. Voltage is applied and the energy travels from one electrode to the other and has an effect on the bad cells in its path. TTF therapy is now a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)–approved treatment for patients who have exhausted surgical and radiation treatments.
Obviously, much more needs to be done, but it certainly feels good to serve an industry that not only has a long history in solving static problems, but one that has a future in the Medical Treatment of Cancer. In the meantime, our Particle Trap Cube is used to solve particle contamination problems in the packaging of Medical Devices that are utilized in hospitals and clinics.
Power in a Name
What’s in a name? Customer have always considered the name, “Static Clean” to be synonymous with producing products that clean sheets and webs in the Converting Industries. For many years, our company has been manufacturing WebVAC Systems that achieve the cleaning criteria that many customers expect. How clean is clean? The cleaning level or efficiencies that are reached with the Static Clean- WebVAC and similar systems is a 95% success rate in the 25-30 micron range.
Raising the Bar
With multi-laminations, higher cleanliness standards of materials used in notebook, laptop, television screens, finer lines of resolution in printed circuit boards, and the growing medical device packaging market, the bar has been raised. Demands have been placed on suppliers to deliver sheeted or web based paper and plastic materials that contain less debris, or what is now called Foreign Matter (FM).
A Higher Standard of Clean
In an effort toward continuous improvement, Static Clean has partnered with Polymag Tek. What’s in a name? Polymag Tek’s original business model was to provide materials and equipment to clean magnetic tape. Does everyone remember magnetic tape? Back around 1928, magnetic tape was invented in Germany to record sound. In the 1950s and 1960s, magnetic tape was widely used by IBM in the storage of computer data, particularly for backups. In the 1990s, the pressure was on to store even more data on mag tape and it meant making sure that the surface of the tape was totally clean. How clean is clean now?
Polymag Tek’s Contact Cleaning rolls and equipment achieved cleaning levels down into 10 microns and below beginning in 1994. For a greater understanding of the technology, please visit their website by the following link to their “Dirt Report”
For information on their full line of hand rollers, web and sheet cleaners, as well as process roll cleaners including the water wash systems, please visit their website at www.polymagtek.com.
Stereotyping Our Expressions
People always feel the need to say something when they greet people, so they usually say things like, “it’s a beautiful day”, “they’re calling for rain”, “it’s a bit cloudy” or some other reference to the weather. Let’s face it we all do it. It seems that every time we watch the news or talk shows, they all say the same old clichés, but the one that seems to be getting most people’s attention and disdain is the over-used and abused, “At the end of the day”.
The Cliche Commonplace
There are more attractive ways to say the same thing, including “when all is said and done”, “the fact of the matter”, and “in the final analysis”. A friend of mine from Carmel, Indiana was a big Pink Floyd fan who put together a compilation album of their hits and he had a clever title for the CD. He called it “The Animals Wish You Were Here on the Dark Side of the Wall. It was his way of getting four separate albums under one creative name. If you know the group Pink Floyd, you already know the creative genius behind the band, but you will also recognize the creative liberty that my friend took in coming up with his title.
A Rose by Another Name
When it comes to being creative and trying not to be so cliché, coming up with names for newly developed products, can be as hard as trying to pick a name for a new baby. Watch for new products from Static Clean in the coming weeks with names like Particle Trap Mini, Tempest, and the APSC-5 Nozzle. Let’s face it, when all is said and done, at the end of the day, the fact of the matter is that in the final analysis, you can always find something new at www.staticclean.com
Making a Beeline for the shore
The term “As the Crow Flies” has been found in print since as early as 1758. The term came from British coastal vessels that customarily carried a cage of crows. Crows detest large expanses of water and when released from a ship, they headed straight for dry land. This was very useful for sailors at sea who weren’t sure which direction they would find land. It was their form of radar long before radar was even invented as a standard navigational tool. The lookout perch on ships became known as the crow’s nest and a sailor would sit in the perch and note the direction the crow flew. Basically the crow instinctively knew the shortest distance between two points.
Clean Room Laminar Air Flow principles are based on the desired plan of air taking the most direct path from entrance to exit and entraining unwanted particles in that airflow to keep the clean room at a stated level of cleanliness. It has been long known that static electricity can influence the oceans of the world. Warm water meeting cold water, and each having different densities can create the tides that can even shape our shorelines.
You may ask, “What can influence the air patterns in clean rooms”? One of the biggest problems is the forces of static electricity which causes particle pull. Instead of the air taking that beeline or direct path, electrostatically charged plastics pull particles right out of the air flow and they become attracted to the plastic. If you are in the medical device manufacturing or packaging, these unwanted particles become the cause of poor yield, downtime, rework and lost revenue. The use of ionization in the air flow assists in delivering ions that reduce static levels on plastic materials. The ionization also helps to keep particles in the air flow for removal from the clean environment.
There are several key ionization tools that have been designed for use in laminar flow rooms and work stations. Static Clean offers the DC-ESR bar that mounts easily below a Fan Filter Unit and with its small profile does not obstruct the air pattern. For information on the DC-ESR clean room static bar, please visit www.staticclean.com
Most Clean Room experts and consultants cringe at the thought of having turbulence inside of a clean room or clean space even though it is a necessary evil. Compressed air driven ionizing guns and nozzles are indeed a requirement to get rid of particles in the process, on the product itself and worse yet inside of the package. Particles typically show up after heat sealing the lid in place. How do you make a process cleaner and reduce waste without the use of ionizers that use compressed, Clean Dry Air (CDA) or Nitrogen (N2)? The simple answer is that you go with whatever blow-off device is required, but control the turbulence.
What does turbulence have to do with a Clean-room, you might ask? Unlike laminar air flow, turbulent air flow is not channeled in smooth parallel paths but distorted or agitated. Typically this dilutes the contamination but it can also distribute it across the whole clean-room. Wikipedia’s definition of a clean room is this; A cleanroom or clean room is an environment, typically used in manufacturing or scientific research, with a low level of environmental pollutants such as dust, airborne microbes, aerosol particles, and chemical vapors. More accurately, a cleanroom has a controlled level of contamination that is specified by the number of particles per cubic meter at a specified particle size.
The basic problem associated with the use of turbulent air tools is “where do the particles go”? The answer is quite simple; source capture the debris where it is being created. With the right containment equipment in place, the dislodged particles can be drawn into a filter media that greatly reduces the risk of re-contaminating the products just cleaned or dumping the particles on the nearby manufacturing cell. The hotspots where particles are created may be at the molding machines, ultrasonic welding stations, de-burring, assembly, packaging or other points of friction where static is generated.
The best solution for companies dealing with these problems, especially the applications that involve medical packagers is to incorporate an ionizer into the source capturing equipment or use ionizing in conjunction with a means to capture the debris. Static Clean can offer both solutions. If you are using an ionizing air gun to remove particles, it only makes sense to use the Particle Trap to capture those particles. If the same problems apply and the desire is to take human error out of the equation, the answer is to use a Medical or Parts Cleaning Station that we offer in both manual and automated models. To learn more about the Particle Trap 6000 and our Medical Cleaning Stations-MCS-AS, please visit our website www.staticclean.com to see our featured videos on these key products.