There’s more to swabs than meets the eye

by Laureen Belleville

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Cleanliness and durability, two qualities in demand for today's high-end components, electronic assemblies and medical equipment, are equally important aspects of cleanroom swabs. Swabs are called on to precisely apply materials, keep contamination out of a process and reduce defect density. They can be application matched and many can be modified to meet specific user needs. Variables include handle material, tip size, head materials and solvent-retention capability.

Users can choose from a variety of head materials and styles, including wrapped foam, sealed foam, wrapped polyester, sealed polyester and foam over cotton. For example, wrapped swabs are made by folding the head material around the handle.

Manufacturers of Swabs
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This type is particularly useful for precision cleaning critical surfaces. Others boast that the head-to-handle manufacturing process uses no adhesives or binders that could contaminate the application.

Among the handle materials offered are polypropylene, nylon, glass-filled nylon, wood and styrene. Many suppliers address the issue of static contamination by offering both conductive and static-dissipative swab handles.

Manufacturers of Swabs (con’t)
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More manufacturers are adding post-manufacture testing to ensure product quality. One company uses ultra-clean processing performed in an ISO Class 4.5 cleanroom to reduce the level of metallic ions in fabric swabs by as much as 50 percent. The same company also employs a post-assembly cleaning process for foam swabs that reportedly reduces non-volatile residue by as much as 40 percent.


  • Connecticut Clean Room Corp., Bristol, CT, Tel: (860) 589-0049, Fax: (860) 585-7355,
  • Economic Packaging, Milpitas, CA, Tel: (408) 956-5900, Fax: (408) 956-0106,
  • Lym-Tech Scientific, Chicopee, MA, Tel: (800) 628-8606, Fax: (413) 592-4112,
  • Prudential Cleanroom Services, Irvine, CA, Tel: (800) 767-5536, Fax: (949) 261-1947,
  • Terra Universal Inc., Anaheim, CA, Tel: (714) 506-0100, Fax: (714) 492-2179,
  • Ultrapure Technology, Suwanee, GA, Tel: (800) 932-0309, Fax: (770) 932-0809,
  • VWR Scientific Products, West Chester, PA, Tel: (800) 932-5000, Fax: (610) 918-0310,


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