Cleaner relays

CP Clare Corporation manufactures and supplies delicate electronic switches and relays for the communication, security, automotive, and medical industries.

“We require the surface of our components to be free of particles, trace residues, and oxides prior to high vacuum sputtering,” stated Mike Keys, senior manufacturing engineer.  “In the past, we used conventional CFCs and needed to eliminate them due to environmental regulations.  For the most part, the old system worked well; however, occasionally the solvent became contaminated and created problems.”

CP Clare was using a drum of solvent per week at a cost of $1,500.00 and an equal cost to dispose of the spent cleaning agent.  In addition to that, the company incurred an expense in maintaining a special environment for the cleaning system.

“We found that the ultrasonic solvent process had difficulty breaking the bond of the particle from the substrate,” remarked Keys.  “However, the CO2 composite spray cleaning process, being velocity-based, proved to do a much better and more consistent job for us.

“Another problem that was cured was the issue of re-deposition of contamination due to drag-out from one tank to the next.  In general, we chose CO2 composite spray cleaning because of its momentum transfer capability.  It also saves us time, money, and is more consistent than our old process.  We even noticed that our product’s electrical characteristics improved with CO2 spray cleaning, and carbon dioxide is flat out cheap compared to chemical processes.

“Another benefit is that we do not require any special emissions control area as we did with the solvent process,” Keys continued.  “So we clean and go straight into our vacuum system.  In my opinion, the system is simple to operate.  We worked with the process parameters in the beginning until we were satisfied, and now it’s as easy as pushing a button, walking away from the process, and coming back when it’s finished.  Our CO2 composite spray cleaning process is twice as fast as the old Freon process, with less operator interference and maintenance.”

Keys went on to state that the CO2 composite spray cleaning system is also extremely flexible.  By adjusting flow rates, the company has been able to minimize consumables.  Because CP Clare devices are prone to electrostatic discharge (ESD), the (optional) built-in ionization process that is part of the CO2 composite spray cleaning system was a valuable feature for their particular application.

“Today’s Forecast: It Looks like Snow”, Precision Cleaning, May 1999