Milliken builds ISO Class 1 cleanroom

Mark A. DeSorbo

SPARTANBURG, SC—IN.WHAT.POTENtially could become a landmark in the world of contamination control, textile and chemical maker Milliken & Co. has announced that it's putting the finishing touches on an ISO Class 1 research and technology center; an industry first under the new global cleanroom standards.

Initially specified to be a sub-ISO Class 2 environment, officials say the facility was rated above expectations and will not only serve as the final processing point of cleanroom and automotive wipers, but as a lab for the development of products for the semiconductor, life sciences, electronic, food, automotive and other industries.

“This is the first facility of its type that we know of in the United States,” says Chris Roman, Milliken's business manager. “We developed a proprietary design and linked it with the latest technology in filtration and air handling.”

Roman, along with Creighton Kelly, director of development, would not discuss specific details of the Union, SC facility, declining to elaborate on cleanroom square footage, design and the equipment.

They did say, however, that the facility includes a manufacturing area and a metrology lab to support production and development. It was rated under the worldwide ISO 14644 cleanroom standards, a three-fold criteria, which requires the environment to have less than .23 particles at 0.1 micron per square meter as built, at rest and at work.

“The facility is expected to be in full production by the first of next year,” Roman says. “It will be compliant with current good manufacturing practices (cGMPs), and it will also have all the components to produce sterilized products.”

Along with those components, the facility will include a number of ISO Class 1 minienvironments that were designed by Milliken.

An in-house de-ionized water system will supply semiconductor- and pharmaceutical-grade water for rinsing and cleaning, while the return air system as well as the return plenum gets rid of any particles before air re-enters the space.

The facility is positively pressurized with re-circulated air and maintained at a temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit, with 45 percent relative humidity. In addition, areas where solvents are used remain in designated areas of the facility to prevent airborne molecular contamination.

“All of the systems in place were designed for maximum efficiency and minimal cost,” Roman says.

Running the facility is a staff of 50 researchers, who hold doctorates in numerous fields of science and technology.

For now, the company says, the production goals will begin with manufacturing wipers.


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