I was chatting with a friend/customer the other day and asking him if he was still playing hockey in a men’s no-check league. His response was that it was “time to hang it up”. It got me to thinking about all the things we do in life where we can use or connect that phrase.
The obvious meaning of hang it up is to stop doing something that you’ve done for a long time. How about hang it up as in hat, coat, phone, pictures, and decorations. The gloomier side of the phrase can mean break-up, bring to a close-like a chapter in one’s life- and cease, which has very strong connotations, but the one that I like the most is “bag it”. Many of us have used the phrase, “why don’t you bag it” on people we know. From watching detective TV shows involving criminal investigations and forensics, “bag it” refers to putting evidence in a sealed bag or container.
Plastic, All Wrapped Up?
There are many kinds of bags and containers that are produced every day in factories throughout the world. They can be either converted film, blow molded containers, injection molded boxes or cast materials, but can you imagine not having a plastic storage bag or container to keep food in the refrigerator? While we all try to be “green”, the plastics converters are working to make improvements with bio-degradable, engineered materials, but the reality is that plastic bags and containers are creature comforts that make our lives easier and will be around for a long time.
Most plastics come from petroleum based resin, that by the time it becomes a finished product on the various machines, it has been subjected to high amounts of static electricity. These unwanted static charges can cause defect in the materials, lost production because of having to run the equipment slower than possible, particle attraction which reduces quality and jamming in the process, which causes down-time and lost profits. Static Clean provides many types of ionizing air products that reduce the ill effects of static electricity. They are available in the form of static bars, blowers, nozzles, air knives and cleaning systems.
In time, the choice of materials will lean more towards environmentally friendly resins that may not cause static levels that are harmful, but until then Static Clean can help improve the process, because most of us would have to agree that it is not quite time yet to “Hang It Up” when it comes to creature comforts like plastic bags.
Questions, Answers and a Tidbit about Life and Business:
Where have all the golfers gone?
About 10 years ago the golf industry hit its peak. Golf balls, golf clubs, and related clothing products flew off the shelves. That has all changed now, with fewer players entering the sport. The decline is not really attributed to a lack of interest, but the time it takes away from family and the skyrocketing costs of a round of golf, its equipment and appropriate attire. The World Golf Foundation claims that in 2005 over 30 million participants played over 550 million rounds of golf. In 2014, the number of players shrunk to 25 million participants playing 465 million rounds. The fallout will have a financial impact on many suppliers to the game.
Speaking of suppliers to the game, with the support of Monroe Electronics, one of our long-standing suppliers, we worked on an “Early Warning” lightning-detection system for golf courses that was based on an electrostatic field meters that are commonly used to measure static in industrial applications, especially the plastics industry. Golfers running around an open course with metal sticks in their hands during a lightning strike is not a wise decision. The decline in the number of golfers is not our fault!!
Where have all the Rich Folks gone?
Obviously, they are still playing golf, but physically they are starting to relocate. I was watching the Tonight Show about two years ago and his guest was Will Smith. They showed a clip of Will Smith from a French TV interview, where Will said that he was okay with paying higher taxes as they do in France. He was shocked when told that the President of France has advocated a 75% tax rate for those making more than one million euros. Has Will Smith changed his line of thinking? Wealthy people are no longer bound by country.
The billionaire founder of Facebook fled to Singapore and gave up his US citizenship, as did 1700 rich Americans last year who left the US, and the trend is growing.
At the same time, the new rich that are coming out of Russia and China want to come to America. There has been quite a bit in the news lately about Russia controlling an increasing amount of the world’s supply of plutonium (an element used in nuclear weaponry), but little is heard about Russia controlling Polonium-210. Polonium was discovered and isolated in 1898 by Marie and Pierre Curie in Poland, and was produced in the United States during World War II, as part of the Manhattan Project that developed the first nuclear bomb. It gets its name from the Latin word for Poland, which is Polonia. How about the fugitive Russian officer, Alexander Litvinenko, who didn’t agree with Putin. He died in the UK when someone dropped a couple of chips of P-210 into his drink and he died from radioactive poisoning. Today, common uses for safe versions of P-210 include anti-static devices, but when the US gave up production of Polonium, it left Russia as the main producer of the radioisotope. It is produced in nuclear reactors and it has the chemical symbol of Po.
What was the Bonfire of the Vanities?
Not the book or the movie, but in real life, these were real bonfires. Throughout the 1400s some of the strict religious in Italy wanted to purge the world of sinful pursuits. They advocated for the destruction of clothing, jewelry, and priceless works of art. The largest of such fires took place in 1497 in Florence, Italy, the home of the Italian Renaissance and Leonardo Da Vinci. Citizens were required or forced to bring their valuables to the town square or piazza to be thrown into huge pile for burning. Talk about a sin!! On a related subject, static electricity discharges can cause fires and other devastation, but to intentionally destroy world class art is completely ridiculous.
Where have all the Static Companies Gone?
In an effort to tie this all together, I would say that business in many instances follows the ebb and flow of society. Businesses are born and die based on demographics, trends, movement to regions of lower labor costs, to be closer to raw materials and of course, operating in a mature market. About 25 years ago, there were close to twenty US-based manufacturers of anti-static devices. It doesn’t mean that globally there are fewer players, but in the USA you can count the number of ionizer device manufacturers on one hand. Mergers, acquisitions, consolidations, outright closures, and a migration towards the emerging markets, especially Asia, are the major reasons for the number of companies. Static Clean remains one of the last suppliers who rely on strong customer relationships for its continued survival and continued success. Please consider Static Clean for all of your static control needs, so that we don’t have to one day ask the question, “Where have all the good times gone”?
In the world of micro-electronics and the trend towards miniaturization, I don’t think we can put the Genie back in the bottle. We seem to be driven to pack the maximum amount of goodies into the smallest of spaces. When we use smart phones, and other digital devices we tend to hold them closer to our eyes than we would a book or magazine. The reality, according to a 2011 study by Dr. Mark Rosenfield of the New York School of Optometry, is that when we use these small devices we blink less, causing a natural decrease in tear production, thus we get eye fatigue. Now think of the employees who have to actually assemble these small but sophisticated products or worse yet, watches. They have to keep a keen eye to the task at hand.
What is Swiss Made?
We’ve all seen the special headband-style magnifying glasses that jewelers use. They need to be able look into the tight confines of the watches, with all of their gears and moving parts. High quality watches are synonymous with claiming to have a Swiss Made Movement, but what does that actually mean? There are four rules in being able to claim Swiss Made Movement.
Must be 100% made in Switzerland.
60% of the overall value of the watch must be from Swiss Made Parts.
The watch movement must be encased in the outer case in Switzerland.
All quality control and inspections have to be done in Switzerland.
In an effort to maintain accurate movement of a Swiss Watch, it is important to make sure that it is free of particles or debris that can get into the wheels and gears. Static Clean offers the Piezonizer compact, lightweight, ANZ-SC3 Pencil Type Ionizer that delivers ionized air into the nooks and crannies to create a quality product while providing relief to the technicians who spend hours in assembly.
Tribo-Charging, Who Really Discovered Electricity?
The relationship between static electricity and particle attraction has been long known. The Ancient Greeks when polishing their jade and precious stones noticed that straw, chafe and other particles were attracted to the exact things they were trying to clean, the family jewels. This phenomena became known as “Tribo-charging“. Simply stated it was the contact and friction that generated an electrostatic field around the parts that attracted the debris.
The Plastic Attraction
In the Life Sciences Industry of today most companies use plastics in their process. Whether it is to replace body parts, catheters, injection systems, pumps, blood separators or their packing, plastics are here to stay. Not only are they here to stay, but plastic is being used in this process at an increasing rate. Most of these engineered plastics are for a specific need but the premise is the same, they generate huge amounts of static that causes Foreign Matter (FM) to be attracted to the products and the process.
Medical Device Manufacturers most often individually package each medical device and they are subjected to 100% inspection. When the inspector sees a speck of debris (FM), which could be in the form of plastic bits, fuzz balls from clothing, or even human hair, the package is then ripped open and put aside for repackaging. These units are tracked in what is generally called “the tear down rate”. In almost every case, the root cause was the forces of static electricity pulling unwanted particles onto the product and the packaging materials. In addition to the packaging level there are various stages in the assembly process where FM causes rejects. Some of those stages include Injection Molding, Coating, Ultrasonic Welding, Bonding/Gluing, Forming, and handling during the assembly processes. These are also key functions that need to be addressed. The common denominator being that contact and separation (tribo-charging) occurs, static is generated and FM comes into play to contaminate products that could end up inside the human body or blood stream. The FM could also potentially block injection or fluid systems clogging pathways designed to deliver medicine.
Gains are Being Made, Reducing FM
The front line of defense is a properly maintained clean room, but that doesn’t address process problems at the local level, aka the workstation or cell. How does static control reduce particles via ionization in the fight to reduce FM? Static Clean did a job last year for a major medical device company that was experiencing a very high tear down rate. They approached us to come up with a system where they could pass their products thru a blow-off, ionized, vacuum table. The results of this first system allowed them to run 50,000 parts without a single tear-down.
While not all medical device manufacturers have identical assembly lines, let’s take a look at the types of static controls are that implemented for specific reasons or points in the process.
Room Ionization: In this installation, ionizers are mounted in the ceilings and the preferred method is to locate the ionizer right under the Fan Filter Unit. (FFU) to take advantage of the clean air being delivered into the room.
The Increasingly popular approach has been to use source capturing methods in conjunction with ionizing air tools. Recent gains have been made in the development of customized medical cleaning workstations that meet clean room protocol and are tailor engineered to a specific product or package.
Being a big music enthusiast, running jam sessions in the barn behind our house and working in the static business always has me thinking of cool names to call our jam band. The band is made up of four people from our company, Static Clean International and other invited guests. Then it hit me, we will call our band “Guns and Nozzles”.
In our lineup of static control products, some of the key tools to deal with static electricity and particle contamination problems are ionizing air guns and ionizing air nozzles.
Simply stated, they use compressed air or nitrogen to blow off debris and the ionizing components inside of the units make sure that the particles are not reattached back onto the newly cleaned substrate. The latest edition to the ionizing air tools is the Zapp Plus, which features a controller, a sensor eye, a goose-neck for flexibility, a built-in piezoelectric transformer and a fault detector to warn of power supply problems.
Without deviation progress is not possible-Frank Zappa
The Zapp Plus has gained wide acceptance for use with our Particle Trap® 6000, a source capture systems that collects the particles once removed from optics, medical devices, thermoformed trays and any product that requires cleanliness. The Particle Trap® 6000 was developed with a guy named Frank and as corny as it sounds, we’ve thought about calling the product the Frank Zappa. Of course that was never really going to happen, but who can argue with genius of the real Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention.
How many ways can you call someone crazy? “What are you nuts, kooky, mad, silly, wacky, ape, psycho, bonkers, cracked, delirious, berserk, daft, demented or deranged and I really like fruity and out to lunch”? While the Oxford Dictionary describes it as a noun meaning: Mentally deranged, especially as manifested in a wild or aggressive way, we really don’t have the same intent when using crazy in conversation with friends and family.
The opposite to crazy is, calm, collected, rational, responsible, realistic, reasonable, sound and balanced. Can we be honest and agree that most of the time we are somewhere in the middle between these two extremes. Nobody can be totally calm, always rational, completely realistic, always responsible or perfectly balanced, but a happy medium makes life more interesting. Wouldn’t you agree?
When it comes to ionization, especially in electronics manufacturing, the goal is towards perfectly balanced static eliminators. There is no room for an ionizer to be out of balance or to produce more positive than negative ions. Such a state of imbalance can cause early failure of electronics boards or assemblies or create a situation called “walking wounded”. This simply means that harm has been done in the form of static electricity discharge (esd) to the device that may cause a latent product failure. It could be a TV, stereo or any electronics widget that uses sensitive electronics components in it design that is impacted by the esd event. Many Static Clean ionizers such as our Sentinel Blower meet or exceeds the ESD standard for balance.
In life it is also good to strike a happy balance. Call me crazy, but then again aren’t we all?