By Gary Roepke and Bob Applequist, Labconco Corporation
A Glovebox is a sealed enclosure that allows materials handling through long, relatively impermeable gloves secured to ports in the walls of the enclosure. The purpose is protection or isolation, which is provided by the physical barrier. Depending on the type of system, the physical barrier may be to isolate a sensitive material inside the box from environmental contamination (controlled atmosphere type) or to protect the operator from hazardous materials being manipulated inside the box (ventilated type). Most systems have a main chamber where manipulations occur and a smaller transfer or antechamber where samples, small apparatus, and supplies are introduced into the main chamber.
To provide a physical barrier, all well-constructed glovebox should be quality control checked for leak tightness. The manufacturer may check for leaks prior to shipment using a helium mass spectrometer. A test probe checks for the presence of leaks at all joints, seals, and seams.