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Advancing Safety and Quality in Cleanrooms

Advancing Safety and Quality in Semiconductor Industry Cleanrooms Through Sustainable Thermoformed Solutions

As the pace of life and business has accelerated, so has the semiconductor market boomed.

With the rising demand, the semiconductor market is expected to become a trillion-dollar industry by 20301. However, for the market to keep thriving, the semiconductor manufacturers must switch to more sustainable packaging materials to limit their emissions (which we discussed earlier here) and increase safety and quality of their cleanroom environment.

To ensure the highest levels of quality, safety and repeatability in the chips, semiconductor manufacturers must carry out the processes in a controlled environment. That’s why packing semiconductor components clean is critical for the final product performance. At the same time, the semiconductor market is very cost-sensitive and demanding in terms of process automation. Fortunately, the standardized or custom thermoformed solutions can provide a solution in both cases. Keep reading to discover how sustainable cleanroom packaging solutions can help answer the biggest threats to semiconductor manufacturing.

The smooth surface of thermoformed cushions prevents build-up of particles and allows easier cleaning than the packaging made from regular PE foam. The smooth surface of thermoformed cushions prevents build-up of particles and allows easier cleaning than the packaging made from regular PE foam.

The Challenging Road to Safe Semiconductor Manufacturing

Particulate matter, static electricity, humidity, and outgassing are the four biggest threats to semiconductor manufacturing, even in controlled cleanroom environment2. Just like with any other cleanroom products, airborne particles like dust, viruses, and bacteria, along with human contamination, are the factors most difficult to control. Despite wearing the protective cleanroom clothing, particulate build-up poses a substantial risk to semiconductor applications. Static, on the other hand, corrupts materials by drawing and adhering fine airborne particulates to the products’ surface, ultimately resulting in silicon wafers defects or failure, and in rare cases, it can even cause electric shocks to operators. 

Another crucial factor to consider is fluctuating humidity and temperature levels which can affect cleanroom productivity and quality. From inconsistent bake-out times to evaporation of solvents to surface swelling and corrosion, any inconsistency in the approved temperature (ca. 70ºF) can end up in product failure. Last, but not least, outgassing is another common concern with electronic equipment. Although the release of the gas that was trapped or stored within in a solid material is not possible to be eliminated, it should be prevented and controlled as much as possible during the product manufacturing phase.

Enhanced Safety and Cleanliness of Thermoformed Solutions

That’s where thermoformed packaging solutions come into play. Thanks to their smooth surface they are much easier to clean than PE foam. They also successfully block electro-static discharge thanks to special ESD-properties which reduce particle attraction. Besides their reusability and recyclability, thermoformed trays offer strongly reduced particle shedding compared to PE foams.

Designed from 100% recycled post-consumer HDPE, they are also easier to recycle and reuse in return and circular flows compared to standard plastics, thus contributing to creating a truly circular plastic loop. On top of that, by using thermoformed trays every company can significantly reduce their CO2 eq emission, compared to using PE foam, thank to their nestable character which allows to save 85% of space during inbound transport and storage.

Nefab thermoformed cushion designs for semiconductor components. Nefab thermoformed cushion designs for semiconductor components.

Answering Rising Demands with Safety in Mind

The good news is that semiconductor companies can achieve safety and quality in cleanroom environment through various means, from improving manufacturing processes and using more energy-efficient equipment to switching to renewable packaging materials. Innovative thermoformed packaging solutions, made from recycled post-consumer waste, are playing a crucial role in answering the biggest threats to safe semiconductor manufacturing. By leveraging these solutions, semiconductor companies can make significant strides in reducing their environmental impact while maintaining high industry standards.

At Nefab we work together with many businesses to champion new sustainable cleanroom solutions that optimize the supply chain and help them reach their sustainable goals. Get in touch to learn how we can support you.

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Cover image: Adobe Stock

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