Fraunhofer uses clean technology

Fraunhofer uses clean technology

By John Haystead

Stuttgart, Germany — The Fraunhofer-Institut fur Produktionstechnik und Automatisierung (Stuttgart, Germany) recently demonstrated advanced contamination control technology developments at the institute`s annual Conference on Microsystem Production. Fraunhofer provides R&D support to any industry requiring clean manufacturing environments, including microelectronics, pharmaceutical and food processing, as well as the makers of process equipment. In addition to maintaining its own 300-square-meter cleanroom area (varying classification levels) for the testing and qualification of manufacturing equipment and materials, the institute provides on-site support to companies looking for ways to improve the quality-control systems and operational costs of their manufacturing plants.

One of the systems shown at the most recent event held November 5 and 6, 1998, was a handheld surface scanner for the detection of particulate contamination. Able to detect particulates to 3 microns, the unit is designed as a relatively low-cost (in the area of $15,000) alternative to more traditional systems. Although Fraunhofer may manufacture some initial units itself, it is interested in finding an industry partner to bring the product to market.

For the pharmaceutical and food processing industries, the institute has also developed an on-line airborne biocontaminant measuring system that can detect and count live bacteria in real time. Although, as observed by Fraunhofer Director Johann Dorner, “this technology is very much in demand by the pharmaceutical, biotech and food industries; the contamination control industry has as yet not provided such a real-time monitoring capability.” Fraunhofer has now built and demonstrated a prototype system, and is looking for an industry partner to help bring this technology to market as well.

John Haystead is a freelance writer in Surry, ME, and was formerly the editor of CleanRooms.


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