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The History & Innovation of the Cleanroom

 

Liberty Industries is a leading provider of cleanroom and contamination control supplies for laboratories, healthcare providers, manufacturing facilities, and more. Our innovative solutions are designed to deliver the best results across a wide spectrum of industries and have been a primary contributor to cleanroom history and innovation.

The legacy of the cleanroom can be initially traced back to French chemist, Louis Pasteur, one of the originators of medical microbiology. His research throughout the mid- to late-1800s revealed the effects of microbes on organic tissue. Through his tireless study, Pasteur discovered that boiling water and air exclusion would prevent meat from decomposing, establishing his namesake process of pasteurization. From this discovery, he also posited that the exclusion of microbes could reduce or prevent the spread of disease, which led to the development of the first cleanrooms.

Based on Pasteur’s germ theory, British surgeon Joseph Lister first used antiseptics in surgery to create sterile operating rooms. In 1867, he began to use carbolic acid to clean his hands and instruments and found that this significantly reduced bacterial infection in his patients. This successful attempt to control microbial spread in a targeted environment gave rise to the concept of cleanrooms, and in the 1960s the idea truly took root.

cleanroom diagram

The Forefather(s) of the Modern Cleanroom

In the 1960s, scientist Willis Whitfield worked at Sandia National Laboratories, a federally funded scientific research facility in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Whitfield developed the first forced-air filtration system to control the number of airborne particles within an enclosed space. He filed this as the first cleanroom design, called Ultra Clean Room, under U.S. Patent No. 3158457 in 1964, an accomplishment that saw him inducted into the U.S. National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Whitfield used gravity and forced air circulation to create a controlled space with extremely low levels of particulate matter. The circulation initiated at the top of the room, where incoming air was forced into the enclosure through HEPA filters in the ceiling. Particulate matter was forced to the ground and drawn out at the bottom of the room. Though the first cleanroom was only able to hold a single adult male, cleanroom technology has since evolved rapidly and now sees broad usage across a variety of large-scale operations, from medical research facilities to electronics manufacturing.

liberty industries facility 1960s

John Nappi, Sr. & the Evolution of Liberty Industries

In 1953, Liberty was founded by John Nappi, Sr. under the name Liberty Machine Company. A visionary entrepreneur and inventor, John Nappi designed and manufactured tooling and machinery for companies throughout Connecticut. With the advent of cleanrooms in the 1960s, the company was uniquely suited to provide innovative contamination control solutions for a wide range of cleanroom applications.

As cleanroom technology advanced, John Nappi continued to develop useful and practical products, including Tacky Mats®, Shoe Brush Cleaners, air showers, and laminar flow devices. In the 1960s, he updated the company’s name to Liberty Industries, Inc. to reflect its new mission and diversified specialization.

John Nappi’s son, John J. Nappi, Jr., followed in his father’s footsteps by acquiring the business in 1973.  The company has continued to develop advanced cleanroom and contamination control technology for a wide range of industries, including pharmaceutical, medical, nuclear power, electronics manufacturing, aerospace, and precision manufacturing.

Over the course of many decades, Liberty has evolved from a small machine shop manned by an intrepid entrepreneur to a world-class manufacturer of state-of-the-art cleanroom technology. Our company continues to push the boundaries of the industry, acquiring the latest manufacturing technology and continuously developing new products and processes. No matter how advanced our technology has become, we hold to the values our company was founded under in 1953: honesty, integrity, commitment, and reliability.

As Liberty Industries has grown, so has the Nappi family. As a family-owned and operated company, Liberty has seen the introduction of a third generation in John J. Nappi, Jr.’s son, Giovanni J. Nappi III. Giovanni has been around the business his entire life and understands every aspect from the ground up. He initially founded Liberty Coatings in 2006, a subsidiary of Liberty Industries Inc. which provides Cerakote® finishes to industry-leading manufacturers in the sectors of firearms, automotive, and industrial coatings.  Liberty Coatings operates with the philosophy that when high-quality services are offered, delivered on time, and at a competitive price, the company will exceed clients’ expectations.  The coatings division has contributed to the range of diversity in the Liberty Industries customer base. Due to John J. Nappi Jr. and his son Giovanni’s direction, the company continues to grow and prosper through quality product manufacturing and innovation.Nappi family Liberty Industries

Liberty Industries for All Your Cleanroom Needs

With a firm foundation in the fundamental science of cleanroom technology, Liberty Industries has scaled the heights of cleanroom and contamination control technology. As a world-class leader in the development and manufacture of cleanroom products, we employ some of the finest minds in the industry to help our customers find the ideal cleanroom setup and supplies for any project. Contact our experts today to learn more about our cleanroom and contamination control products and services.

 

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