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Cleanroom Nitrile Gloves
A Popular Choice in Highly ESD Sensitive Critical Environment Manufacturing

Steve Fowler, Fowler Associates, Inc.
May 13, 2004

When choosing gloves for use in ESD and Cleanroom work, many parameters must be considered. The most important of which are:

1. Resistance of the glove from the object being held to the operator's hand
2. Triboelectric generation Propensity Against Materials of Concern
3. Contamination
4. Personnel Sensitivity to Glove Materials

The ESD Association is presently writing a test method to assist in determining the ESD properties of gloves. The test methods now being considered are for resistance testing of all gloves including Nitrile. Old test methods, which only measured the resistance of gloves not being worn, did not give the true capabilities of gloves such as Nitrile to be effective after they hydrated on an operator's hand. The ESD Journal has a full test method available for wide spread use now. It also tests the triboelectric propensity of gloves being used against any material being handled. Go to for a review of the ESD Journal's test method.

Cleanroom Nitrile gloves possess superior intrinsic ESD property. They outperform many other gloves for both critical ESD properties. The use of nitrile gloves provide an effective tool to:

1. Reduce the generation of static charges when worn by a production operator in a properly grounded ESD worker at a properly grounded ESD workstation.

2. Drain away static charges when placed in contact with any charged dissipative or conductive object.

Example: At one aerospace supplier visited on a particularly difficult to find ESD problem, I found the operator at the tinning station was using latex gloves to hold an epoxy integrated circuit as it was being positioned to be tinned in a grounded solder pot. As the operator spun the IC around in her hand and then dipped one side of its leads into the molten solder, she tribocharged the epoxy and caused a Charged Device Model discharge into the solder. This caused 5 failures in a one year. By just changing the glove material to Nitrile, the problem was eliminated. The Nitrile charged less against the epoxy than the Latex thus reducing the CDM
for the tinning process.

The moderate static dissipation of Nitrile gloves not only effectively protect today's highly ESD Sensitive Devices from ESD damage, they also offer a contamination-free solution in a cleanroom with its ultra low ionic contamination property. Also, the sensitivity of some personnel to Latex gloves is not a problem with Nitrile.

There is no doubt that the demand of Cleanroom Nitrile Gloves will continue to expand into the future due to:

1.The miniaturization trend of electronic devices and equipment will guarantee greater need of ESD protection (Refer to White Paper "ESD Phenomena & the Reliability for Microelectronics" published by ESD Association, USA, go here for a free download: ).

2.The rapid growth of IT & electronic industries that guarantee the greater use of increasingly ESD-Sensitive microchips.

3.The growing need of more stringent cleanrooms that are free from static charge & micro particles especially in ultra clean manufacturing environment.

Therefore, nitrile gloves promise an interesting growth and bright future in the ESD Sensitive and Cleanroom Critical Environment Manufacturing for many years to come. For a good look at the requirements of cleanrooms and comparison of glove materials, go to:

Some of the manufacturers of Cleanroom Nitrile Gloves are: Ansell Healthcare, Safeskin and
Cardinal (formerly Allegiance).

Nitrile, the time has come!

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