The increasing contamination control requirements for disk drives, and the prevailing mandate to climinate chlorinated solvents in cleaning applications have allowed high-pressure water spray to emerge as an effective and environmentally sound method for cleaning. Certain substrates, such as machined metals and alloys, can be cleaned using high-pressure water to state-of-the-art cleanliness levels. Following developmental investigations in the laboratory, two cleaners utilizing high-pressure (up to 3000 psig), high-flow (up to 50 gpm) water have been procured for use at suppliers of critical disk-drive components. Acceptance-runoff, certification, and production-run cleanliness data pertaining two the two high-pressure cleaners are presented here in terms of liquid-born particle counts on contaminants extracted from substrates ultrasonically, or by means of a low-pressure water spray. Results indicate that residual particulate contamination levels on high-pressure sprayed parts may be lower by more than two orders of magnitude compared with those obtained by more conventional cleaning methods. The cleaning efficiency increases significantly with particle size. The importance of nozzle manifold design and placement, for both cleaning and drying, is demonstrated quantitatively with examples of the deleterious consequences of not optimizing them. The underlying cleaning mechanism is explained briefly. Potential advantages and disadvantages associated with high-pressure water spray cleaning are fully discussed, and recommendations are offered for utilizing this technology most effectively.

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