The new clean room in Erlangen, Germany, started operations at the end of 2010. LPKF LaserWelding uses it for welding-process evaluations, especially for particularly sensitive plastic products.
Microfluidic systems are tiny magic boxes used to carry out complex analysis or processes in a minimal amount of space. It is also obvious that tiny dust particles can cause serious problems with channels and welding seams only a few micrometers wide. These and other applications benefit from the new LPKF clean room.
The clean room complies with cleanness class ISO 5, and is upheld by the laminar flow principle: there is always a slight overpressure in the room maintained by an ultra-clean turbulence-free flow of air. The air leaves the room via slots in the floor and the walls, before being re-filtered and pumped back into the room.
All of the exhaust air from the laser systems permanently installed in the clean room is filtered outside of the room before being discharged. An air-lock with protective clothing ensures that there is no contamination from outside. All of the workplaces within the room are equipped with laminar flow units which further reduce the number of airborne particles in the vicinity of the sensitive microfluidic components.
The efforts are already having a positive impact says Frank Brunnecker, Vice President Business Unit LaserWelding: "The demand for increasingly precise welding processes continuously motivates our engineers. We have already created welds with a laser focus of only 70 µm, and have developed methods that reliably document the quality of this seam during processing.
The clean room is already in operation: the laser engineers use it to make microfluidic welds with transparent-transparent joining parts.