Cleanliness Analysis with a 2-in-1 Workflow Solution

October 9th 2020

Leica Microsystems showed attendees at the 10th specialist congress “Technical cleanliness” in Berlin how they can prepare for future requirements on product cleanliness and make them part of the routine. Technical cleanliness is a quality feature and has a significant impact on the function and durability of a product. This can be guaranteed through the reliable identification of hard, abrasive and conductive particles. The quick and reliable analysis of product cleanliness in the automotive, oil and lubricant industry, as well as in the aerospace sector, has always been a critical factor for product quality. However, for some years now, product cleanliness has been gaining in importance, as components and assemblies are getting ever smaller and the power densities larger. Conductive and abrasive particles have a high potential to cause damage and, in extreme cases, can result in product failures and complaints, which can mean significant costs for the company. To avoid these cost factors and to meet growing external and regulative requirements, many companies are facing the challenge of integrating an efficient cleanliness process in their established routine. Pall and Leica Microsystems offer an interlinked cleanliness process, which can be integrated seamlessly in the daily work process. The product parts are cleaned in Pall Cleanliness Cabinets in order to extract particles and are then analyzed using Leica Microsystems Solutions. The result provides a quick and precise estimate of the damage potential, enabling appropriate actions to be taken before it is too late. The damage potential of metal and abrasive particles is much higher than with non-metal or soft particles. Metal and abrasive particles are hard and damage mechanical systems. Metals also have different levels of conductivity and overlooking them can lead to severe product defects, such as a short circuit in the electronics. An initial option for finding out whether we are dealing with a metal is the gloss method. However, this method does not guarantee that all metal particles have been identified and provides no information about the conductivity of the metal. To shed light on the matter, Leica Microsystems uses a combination of optical and chemical analysis, which can be applied quickly and easily and delivers reliable results. One of the most common methods for checking the product cleanliness is optical analysis. It delivers a wide range of results, is quick and easy to use and is used in many standards - meaning it is something of a gold standard. But optical analysis is often not sufficient for keeping up with the changes, as it does not provide reliable results regarding conductive and/or abrasive properties. These can only be determined through further analyses, such as chemical analysis methods. Leica Microsystems offers an additional function to optical analysis: the so-called LIBS system (Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy). A chemical analysis tool based on laser technology, which delivers reliable results in a matter of seconds. It uses the established standard process of optical analysis - filters are scanned automatically and particle sizes, quantities and geometries determined. Then, for example, different particle classes can be analyzed automatically with LIBS, or, if required, particles can be relocalized individually and analyzed. It is possible to switch between optical and chemical mode at any time. This means that LIBS can be easily integrated into the cleanliness process. While REM/EDX systems often place higher demands on the environment, samples or the user, such as radiation protection, planar samples or expert knowledge, the LIBS system can be integrated easily in the laboratory. Thanks to its intuitive user interface and its high degree of automation, users are able to carry out analyses quickly and reliably.

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