Introducing Earth Saving Tech

Analysis for Cleanliness

by earth guide on Nov.03, 2009, under Green News

Analysis for Cleanliness

You cannot control that which you do not measure.

In more and more industries, the exact knowledge of particle contamination is gaining in importance. Contamination of materials in dimensions of a few micrometers was mainly of concern for the pharmaceutical and semiconductor industries. However, not only manufacturers of circuit board components, but also traditional car parts suppliers face new demands on particle recognition and contamination source identification.

Cleanliness for the automotive parts manufacturers has become a huge topic in today’s ever challenging continuous improvement world. The need to define, measure and control the levels of particulate contamination on product is the new norm for suppliers and automotive OEM’s.

Cleanliness directly relates to product warranties, reliability, performance and safety issues. It has long been known that a dirty product gives us poor quality and low life expectancy. The dirtier the transmission from new, the less time it will last.

It is crucial now to identify particles and their source so that effective elimination can be achieved. Residual contamination consists of particles that persist on the component’s surface after the final step in manufacturing. Such contaminants are introduced via parts from suppliers or arise during processing. After vehicle assembly, the contaminant particles can cause severe damage, loss of function or reduce the lifetime of the product.

Cleanliness is defined as the contamination level of a component surface. Common measures to quantify the cleanliness are mass of the contaminants as well as number, size of the dirt particles. In general, the customer will specify contamination limits. The supplier then has to maintain these levels and document them regularly by means of contamination analysis.

The analysis of the contamination has to be proven to not affect the result and to be effective in evaluating all the contamination present. Methods of extraction and evaluation are specified in the international standard ISO 16232. Particular attention must be paid to the extraction method to ensure no contributing factors are introduced to the evaluation. There are different methods of counting the resulting extracted particles but by far the most accurate, repeatable and cost effective is automated microscope analysis. The microscope with software can scan the filter membrane; sort the particles by size class and even determine basic material composition (metal, non-metal, fiber). Once the data is gathered a custom report can be generated based on the customer requirements.

For more information on cleanliness analysis, visit

Chris Trower is the President of Onclean Labs Inc, an Ontario based lab specializing in third party cleanliness analysis testing.

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