XCAM launches the PFO 1040 at the 2018 Cleanroom Technology Conference

The XCAM PFO 1040 unit provides real-time, high-resolution and automatic particulate fall-out monitoring

The XCAM PFO 1040 unit

XCAM Ltd. has launched the PFO 1040 real-time surface particulate contamination monitoring system at the Cleanroom Technology Conference 2018.

A British manufacturer, XCAM has more than twenty years’ experience developing CCD and CMOS-based imaging systems.

Attending the 2-day event (16-17 May, Birmingham), the company will be performing live demonstrations at its exhibition booth (C1) where visitors can register their interest for the purchase of a PFO 1040 unit, or for those unable to attend, via the XCAM website.

Time-resolved automatic particulate monitoring

The PFO 1040 offers cleanroom operators a novel solution to tracking particulate contamination down to 5 microns by using a robust and reliable direct imaging technique (patent pending). A bespoke algorithm analyses particles and fibres which settle on the 4cm 2 sensor surface and reports data such as size, shape, particle/fibre classification and particle size distribution; as well as allowing individual particulates to be interrogated within the resulting image.

This method allows sample rates of 10 measurements per hour, allowing contamination events to be reported in real-time and consequently improving manufacturing processes and production yields. The automatic nature of the instrument reduces costs as it removes the need to retrieve and analyse samples manually. The instrument can also perform in-situ analysis which minimises disturbances to samples allowing a representative snapshot of particulate contamination levels.

Particulates are incredibly problematic for the aerospace, semiconductor and automotive industries, to name but a few. The powerful features of this instrument have the potential to disrupt current best practices in the field.

“We’re really excited about the release of our latest innovative product. The PFO 1040 has the potential to provide cleanroom operators with a new high-resolution, real-time method of measuring particulate deposition levels, as well as getting far more information regarding particulate types. This will enable detailed tracking and investigation of contamination trends, allowing processes to be improved and yields increased, whilst reducing labour costs.” said Karen Holland, CEO at XCAM.

Spin-off from European Space Agency (ESA) contract

The initial concept for the PFO 1040 instrument was born out of a need for the space industry to develop a real-time, continuous and remote method of tracking particulate contamination produced within the fairing of a rocket, and around sensitive instruments, prior to and during the launch phase.

Characterisation of the particulates would allow sources to be identified and failure analysis to be performed, as well as the monitoring of particulate levels relative to contamination budgets. The European Space Agency therefore funded a contract for the development of such an instrument which XCAM Ltd. successfully bid for and won.

The contract came to completion in January 2017. Recognising that there was a need for such an instrument in terrestrial-based cleanrooms and following on from the success of the ESA prototype Space PFO monitor, XCAM undertook developments to adapt the ESA prototype for commercial use in cleanrooms.

PFO 1040 availability

PFO 1040 is now available by submitting an enquiry via the XCAM website or by e-mailing the XCAM Sales Team at sales@xcam.co.uk.

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