New high specification clean room for William Hughes
Since William Hughes, a specialist manufacturer of springs and wire components, acquired AC Services in the summer of 2015, the company has been busy establishing an 80m² high specification clean room at its Stalbridge, Dorset headquarters. Rated at Class 7 in accordance with ISO 14644-1, this advanced subcontract facility is now open - the only one of its kind in the UK. In fact, it is already being used by some of the best known manufacturers in sectors such as aerospace and hydraulics for the cleaning of small batch, precision machined and fabricated parts to meticulous standards.
"From the outset we wanted to create a facility featuring the latest, modular clean room technologies and furniture," explains Special Processes Manager, Shaun Tattershall. "We have adopted the previous solvent and aqueous cleaning systems - both of which offer ultrasonic capability - used by AC Services, but pretty much everything else is new."
This includes high grade stainless steel furniture that is designed to help minimise particulate levels. What's more, the open plan clean room has been designed for optimum product flow based on the latest lean manufacturing methodologies. It will thus prove ideal for any company looking to subcontract its cleaning requirements, not just from the aerospace and hydraulics industries, but also defence, nuclear, medical, electronics and oil and gas.
The new clean room, which incorporates an inspection dark room so that parts can be viewed under ultra-violet light, is already being used for oxygen-related cleaning applications, predominantly for aerospace giant, Honeywell. Typically, these comprise high precision machined components, springs and other parts that go into oxygen equipment such as breathing apparatus, face masks and ducting. These parts, some of which are also used in liquid oxygen (LOX) systems, are cleaned using approved cleaning solvents and solutions.
"The existing class room specification for these products is ISO Class 8, so our ISO Class 7 facility is more than suitable - it's the equivalent of a Class 10,000 cleanroom using the Fed Stan 209E," says Mr Tattershall.
It's also worth noting that William Hughes can offer in-house cleaning verification capabilities. Here, samples are taken from batches that have been cleaned. The samples are rinsed with filtered, deionised water over a 0.45 µm filter membrane. Any particulates captured are both counted and examined under a microscope. As a result, customers can rest assured that their components will always meet the specified particulate count. This confidence is vital; after all, a contaminated system component/assembly could result in a chemical reaction, an explosion and/or a total system or device failure.
"We take the utmost care with customer parts and ensure that all cleaning is compatible with the component being processed," says Mr Tattershall. "Cleaned items are placed into hermetically sealed bags that will not be opened again until required for further processing, such as assembly."
The solvent and aqueous cleaning systems within the new facility at William Hughes can accommodate precision parts up to 300 by 200 mm in size. Along with metallic parts, materials such as rubbers or plastics (or a combination of these with metal) can also be cleaned.