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23 November 2015

Cleanrooms to fight contamination

Air that’s purer and more sterile than an operating room to produce microchips, food and medicines.

Today, in industrial and scientific research facilities, as well as in the production departments of companies producing pharmaceuticals, microelectronics and food, there is an obligation to carry out part of the work in so-called white rooms or cleanrooms, an environment used as a chemical, mechanical or electronic laboratory, whose main characteristic is the presence of very pure air, i.e. containing an extremely low content of floating dust microparticles.

The Americans were the pioneers of this technology and its origins can be traced to the first microelectronics manufacturers – in particular , those producing semiconductors (such as silicon chips). The first clean rooms were developed in order to increase both production efficiency and the quality of the products in terms of purity.

In the process of semiconductor production, dust particles in the air could cause irreparable damage to the micro-photoetched parts that form the chip, rendering an electronic circuit defective and causing it to be discarded. This mode of production has been extended to other areas, including the food industry, where cleanliness and safety are two factors that go hand-in-hand.

The operation of a cleanroom is based essentially on the principle of the forced circulation of super-filtered air in a sealed room. “The purity of the air in our clean rooms is equivalent to that of an operating room, and the people who work there must wear sterile overalls, shoe covers, hats and facemasks,” explains Cesare Fumagalli, President of the Group which bears his family name and which specialises in the processing of both cured and cooked pork meat products. “In our production facilities, sliced meat products are packaged in cleanrooms. To avoid contamination, the products are also managed with special hygiene procedures and, every two hours, subjected to specific quality controls. On lines where it is possible, we have also introduced the first robots for automatic loading”.


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