When we think about clean rooms here at Travis Clean Air, we think pharmaceutical applications, scientific environment applications, and medical and health applications (among a few others). But the surprising fact is … clean rooms were invented in the world of weapons developement. The advent of the clean room began her in order to protect sensitive mechanical components and transistors.

It all began with Willis Whitfield and Sandia National Laboratories. In their weapons lab, particles were especially hazardous for equipment… Apparently, a 60s era transistor could go haywire due to a particle that’s the less than the size of a human hair. Since Sandia National Laboratories dedicated itself to weapons production and development, failing parts simply couldn’t exist. Since the weapons produced at Sandia would naturally attract dust particles – due to static produced by transistors and mechanical parts – dust particles needed to be filtered out of the working environment. Willis Whitfield subsequently built an enclosed environment wherein the air could be filtered. Air flow was maintained to keep dust from gathering; and Sandia’s transistor elements were protected.

The tricky bit, Whitfield notes in his writing in 1962, is that airflow was necessary to maintain ideal dust-free environment. But airflow could also hinder the ideal environment at Sandia. Reason being – the engineers at Sandia were often working with tiny particles that might simply float away in an airflow environment! Whitfield conducted studies on the minimum amount of airflow necessary to maintain a dust-free environment – while maintaining an environment that allowed for proper working conditions. In doing so, Whitfield had invented what we call a “clean room,” and he made the clean room environment a workable environment. Whitfield was posthumously honored as the inventor of the clean room, and we thank him for his efforts towards our modern modular clean rooms!