The history of tack mats is closely intertwined with the evolution of cleanroom technology and the increasing demand for contamination control in sensitive environments. Tack mats, also known as adhesive or sticky mats, have become essential tools in various industries where maintaining a clean and controlled environment is critical.

With a history dating back decades, the tack mat remains a key dust control solution—albeit with significant advancements.

While seemingly straightforward, the correct utilisation of tack mats plays a critical role in maintaining the pristine environment your operation demands. 

The reason it remains a necessary checkpoint is because 20% of contamination originates from the feet of workers. Even if you wear coveralls and pass through air showers, the soles of your feet often remain exposed. TAKmats, however, can prevent up to 99% of foot-borne bacteria from entering a protected area.

In this blog post, we will delve into essential considerations for ensuring you are using your tack mat correctly, instilling confidence in your clean area procedures.

1. Placement Direction: Fight Your Instincts

One common oversight in tack mat usage is neglecting the importance of proper placement direction. The adhesive layers of tack mats are designed to capture contaminants effectively, but this efficiency relies on correct foot fall—i.e. the steps on the mat. 

Everybody’s instinct is to place the mats like a doormat. However, mats should be placed with the longer dimension of the mat in the same direction as the traffic flow for maximum footfalls on each mat. The MINIMUM number of footfalls should be two with each foot for each location (total of 4 footfalls).

This small yet significant detail makes it easier for people to step multiple times and enhances the mat's ability to trap particles efficiently. 

2. Size Matters: Matching Mat Dimensions to Traffic Flow

Selecting the appropriate size of tack mat is pivotal for its efficacy. Consider the volume of foot traffic entering your clean area and choose mat dimensions accordingly. A larger mat accommodates more steps, maximising its lifespan and efficiency. Tailoring the size to the specific requirements of your operations ensures consistent performance in capturing contaminants before they infiltrate the controlled environment.

In some circumstances, using multiple mats together can make it easier for people to step forward normally. Likewise, placing mats side-by-side can give you complete coverage for wider entry points. And make it harder for people to step around.

3. Layer Maintenance: A Routine for Prolonged Performance

Routine maintenance is the linchpin of tack mat effectiveness. Where the mat has absorbed debris, it will no longer come into contact with feet, impacting performance. Neglecting this maintenance task not only diminishes the mat's efficacy but can also contribute to the spread of contaminants.

Regularly peel away the contaminated layers to unveil a fresh adhesive surface—there is little value in letting mats get completely saturated before changing.

When peeling layers, slowly peel each corner towards the middle and trap the exposed layer in on itself. If you carelessly tear layers off, you will likely spread contamination around. 

Establish a consistent schedule for replacement based on traffic intensity to prevent saturation and maintain optimal performance. In general, the further away from the cleanroom, the dirtier the area will be. Changing the layers at the furthest point of use every hour would be a good benchmark to start with. The final entry area into the cleanroom is likely from a clean area to a very clean area, and each layer will last considerably longer.

4. Long-Term Storage: Safeguarding Performance Over Time

Proper long-term storage is often underestimated, but can be a problem when mats are bought in bulk. Tack mats should be stored in a clean, dry environment away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures. 

Seal the mats in their original packaging or a protective covering to prevent dust and debris from compromising their adhesive properties. Prioritise a first-in, first-out approach to ensure that older mats are used before newer ones, minimising the risk of adhesive degradation.

Storage of product in excess of one year from date of purchase is not recommended. However, under normal storage conditions, the product will not have any variation in performance for a period of up to five years.

5. Not All Tack Mats Are Created Equal

In addition to the tips mentioned above, it is also important to choose the right type of TAKmat for your specific needs. There are a variety of TAKmats available, each with their own unique properties. For example, some TAKmats are designed for use in dry environments, while others are more suitable for wet or oily environments. 

Some incorporate renewable plant-based materials, providing an environmentally friendly alternative for socially responsible organisations. Some contain antibacterial properties. And some are also coloured differently to provide a stronger visual contrast. 

Likewise, some TAKmats are designed for heavier contamination. For example, the GRAMOS SDA (Super Dust Absorbent) TAKmat is different to the Low Profile versions that are common today—it is the only one of its kind.

The SDA is constructed with 36 non-drying resin impregnated woven cotton layers lined within a heavy-duty plastic frame. The cushioned foam base allows feet to sink into the mat where the tacky layers can penetrate all types of footwear soles to remove the heaviest soiling.

Consider the specific needs of your cleanroom when choosing a TAKmat—speak to one of our experts if you want advice on what product is best suited for your needs.

Elevating Clean Area Protocols with Tack Mat Mastery

By following these simple tips, you can ensure that you are using your TAKmats correctly and effectively. This will help to protect your cleanroom from contamination and maintain the integrity of your sensitive operations.

With proper care and maintenance, TAKmats are a valuable asset in any cleanroom operation. By following the tips in this blog post, you can help to ensure that your TAKmats are working to their full potential.