The particle count machine is a relatively new piece of equipment in the technological world of clean rooms and contaminant-free liquids. Understanding its uses as well as how to read the codes is essential to working with these machines. Thus, it is important to take the time to learn the basics of particle counting machines, so that you may ensure you use them properly and get the best results possible.
Particle counting technology was developed in the 1960s, right around the time the US began working on sending rockets into space and landing them on the moon. You see, scientists quickly realized that contaminants of even the smallest size could disrupt foreign atmospheres.
Those tiny particles could also corrupt the machinery we needed to function at its best while in space.
Additionally, as we began to send satellites and space stations out past earth’s atmosphere, we needed clean air rooms to manufacture that equipment.
Finally, if we planned to bring samples from environments outside of earth back to earth, we would need to study those samples in clean air rooms, so they would not be contaminated with particulates that could be toxic to foreign material.
For all of these reasons and more, we needed a machine that could read the air and report back whether particles existed within it that could potentially damage the work being done in those rooms. At that point, we could increase the levels of filtration and clean and seal the rooms better.
Clean Oil and Lubricants
Then, that same technology was applied to lubricants and other fluids used in machinery. Engineers realized that excessive wear and tear can be caused by tiny particles we can’t see over time. This wear and tear could be responsible for the breakdown of expensive and essential equipment necessary for building projects, ground transportation, and even air travel.
Basically, corrupt or corroded liquids in large machines could cost lives, possibly hundreds or thousands of lives.
It was therefore critical to identify and remove these particles from oil and other lubricants before they went into the machines.
Solid Particle Counters
Finally, solid particle counters were invented to detect particle size in areas where the size needed to be uniform. The best example is the rock quarry, where a giant sieve is used to separate particles of different size.
All of this technology, driven by the need to recognize and count particles, relied heavily on light and mirrors. Each machine, whether for air, liquids, or solids, essentially runs the sample (of air, liquid, or solid) through a reader that uses light to reflect off mirrors inside of a chamber and counts the number and size of particles passing through that chamber. It is quite simple if you understand the basics of physics.
Each time the light does not reflect off the mirror where it is expected to, that means the light has hit a particle instead. That particle is counted and the size of the absence of a reflection represents the size of the particle.
Of course, even with the most advanced technology, no system can function with absolute accuracy, so a range is provided for the number of particles within a given size range.
Realize that when we’re talking about sizes of particles, we are discussing material so small that it is ten times smaller than the naked eye can see. We use the term micron or micrometer to discuss these particles, which represent one millionth of a meter or one thousandth of a millimeter.
ISO Clean Codes
To ensure universal adherence to cleanliness when it comes to essential functions like machinery and material sent into space, an internal organization established a set of standards for manufacturers to hold if they want to participate in these essential industries.
Today, all companies that contribute equipment to space, pharmaceuticals, heavy machinery, or any other field where contaminant-free air, liquid, or solid is required must follow these International Standards Organization (or ISO) clean codes.
All particle counters must use the same methods to read samples and report the codes.
The counters will read a sample and then produce three numbers, for example, 19/16/7.
The first set of numbers gives the range of particles that are greater than 4 microns.
The second set of numbers gives the range of particles that are greater than 6 microns.
The third set of numbers gives the range of particles that are greater than 14 microns.
And the number is a multiple of 2. So, the 19 above would 2 to the power of 19, 2^19, or 524,288.
If you got a first number reading of 19, that would mean you have 524,288 particles smaller than 4 microns.
Each of these readings is based on the concentration of particles in a cubic meter of air, liquid, or a solid.
Particle Count Machine Price
Particle counter machines can run anywhere from $400 to $40,000, depending on their size and use. You can find small, handheld, mobile particle readers that will test the air in a room and large, stationary particle counters that stay in place and measure fluid, air, or solids run through them.
The most essential factor, of course, is accuracy, as you don’t want a reader that fails you and potentially sets you up to manufacture faulty equipment or other products.
To that end, Oculyze has designed software to integrate with your existing systems and produce highly accurate results.
The Oculyze system is generic and can be customized to virtually any particle counting needs. The selling point is the exceptional level of accuracy.
In the end, a particle count machine can save lives, time, energy, and potentially millions of dollars. They are helpful to the economy and humanity. For these reasons, it is critical they report with exceptional accuracy.