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Suiting Up

Inside Western Digital: How Tomorrow's Storage Gets Made
Suiting Up

Across all three clean room facilities, the preliminaries look something like this. What you see here is the dressing room. Outside this room there’s a brush machine. You stick your foot into the machine and operate an on/off bar. The machine spins two big, rotating brushes that try to pull your shoe off of your foot. I could play with that thing all day.

These foot suckers are needed as a first step in removing dirt from the clean environment. In the photo on the right, you can see how much dirt still gets tracked into the dressing room entrance even after using the shoe shiner. The white rectangle you see here is very sticky. It feels like you’re walking on fly paper. Many doorways throughout the clean area have these sticky pads, and the incredible thing is that, even after taking your shoes off, wearing sterilized booties, and encasing yourself in cellophane, you still see dirt on these pads in the innermost facility areas. Apparently, we humans are dirtier than we like to think. And lest you nerd-haters doubt the wisdom of pocket protectors, check out the sign I spotted. The cost to clean 14 bunny suit boots? $600. So much for bringing in my coffee.

The first time putting on a cleanroom garment like these takes about 20 minutes. There are ties, snaps, and straps everywhere, and if you don’t do it right you’ll find your outfit falling apart while you walk down a hallway. I recommend wearing contacts and having strong arches.

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