What to Think About When Choosing Cleanroom Furniture

What to Think About When Choosing Cleanroom Furniture

Designing a cleanroom comes with a huge set of unique challenges: controlling the temperature, air quality, static, water purity, etc. What can get overlooked during a cleanroom design is the fixtures and furniture, which are extremely important to the efficiency and ergonomics of your cleanroom space. Here are the questions you should ask when selecting casework and furniture for your cleanroom:

What types of chemicals and materials will be used?

Depending on the substances that you’ll be using in the cleanroom, you may need to ensure that you select work surfaces that are chemical resistant, heat resistant, stain resistant, or non-conductive. This will also inform whether you’ll need fume hoods or chemical or hazardous material storage.

What processes will be performed?

This determines the number and types of workstations you’ll need, as well as their layout. If your cleanroom is used for clean storage of sensitive materials, you’ll probably need cabinetry, shelving, and casework, but if your cleanroom is used for quality control testing, you’ll likely need workstations with storage, sinks, electricity and more.

How often will things change?

If you need flexibility for when processes change, or your cleanroom houses multiple different operations. You may need to consider the flexibility and changeability of the furniture you choose. This can be accomplished with adjustable height tables, workstations or casework on wheels, or adjustable cabinetry that allows you to reconfigure the drawer and cabinet locations.

How many chairs do you actually need?

This seems trivial, but can be a major issue for efficiency. Too many chairs mean there’s always one in the way, and that space is wasted. Too few seats leave your employees playing musical chairs all day. Consider ergonomics with chairs and ensure they are the right height and comfort level for their application. Stools may be the most appropriate choice for cleanrooms where technicians sit for short periods of time at counters; however, if your employees are sitting at workstations for long periods of time for certain operations, they’ll need more comfortable seating.

How much storage is needed?

No matter your cleanroom application, you’ll need storage of some kind, whether for materials, packaging, or the tools and equipment used in your processes. Ensuring that you have the right kind of storage for these items is also important. While shelving may work for bulk storage of boxed items, you’ll need cabinets for chemical storage or racks and drawers for tools.

How much space do I have?

If you’re working with limited space, it’s critical that you maximize that space. Too much furniture can impede movement and therefore,  the efficiency of your cleanroom operations. Consider how spaces can be made flexible for multiple operations or how the furniture can be best laid out for process flow, as well as the movement of people within that space.

 

When designing or upgrading a cleanroom, don’t forget the furniture. Using your cleanroom space inefficiently or having the wrong furniture or materials, or simply not having enough storage or seats can make a cleanroom into a chaotic mess. Ask yourself these questions when selecting cleanroom furniture to ensure a well-designed cleanroom for your application.

 

If you’re designing a new cleanroom, make sure you have the right space to meet your needs. Angstrom Technology can design, construct and install the perfect cleanroom

New Trends in Cleanroom Design

New Trends in Cleanroom Design

Now that the holidays are over and the new year has begun, you might finally be getting around to implementing a new cleanroom in your facility. If you’re designing a new cleanroom or updating your current one, here are the latest trends in cleanroom design that you should consider as you design your cleanroom space.

 

Sustainability

Sustainability is an important consideration for all of us, including corporations. Because cleanrooms use so much energy to maintain the desired environmental conditions, engaging in sustainable practices when possible is crucial. Not only do these sustainability efforts support the natural environment, they are also energy efficient, which can help you save on energy costs. Using energy efficient equipment and energy efficient LED lighting can aid in sustainability efforts, as can a modular cleanroom. Modular cleanrooms can be altered and right-sized as the needs of your company change, while reusing the modular components, and require less material than traditional construction. Additionally, modular cleanrooms can make use of the currently existing HVAC and ventilation systems in your space, rather than requiring separate systems.

 

Transparency

Now, more than ever, we’re aware of the value of transparency from leaders and companies. When it comes to your cleanroom, the primary concern will always be the integrity of the controlled environment within, and it may also be important to maintain privacy for the safety of intellectual property, but cleanrooms can benefit from some openness and visibility. Using transparent partitions in the place of opaque walls can provide some benefits, the biggest of which being that lab processes can be observed, whether by compliance regulators or supervisors within your organization, without disturbing cleanroom processes or the environment within.

 

Flexibility

Many organizations are resisting the use of specific dedicated spaces for certain tasks or operations, instead opting for more shared spaces and flexibility in order to reduce costs and under-utilized space. This means incorporating fixtures and furniture, such as lab benches and workstations, into your cleanroom that can accommodate a variety of tasks or processes, as well as modular cleanrooms that can be easily expanded, contracted, or reconfigured to maximize use of space.

 

As you’re working on your cleanroom design or redesign, consider the needs of your company and your cleanroom, as well as how the cleanroom can continue to meet those needs over time, with organizational and regulatory changes. Incorporating sustainability, transparency, and flexibility into your cleanroom design can make your cleanroom efficient and future-proof, not matter the changes to come.

Looking to design a new cleanroom? Get in touch with the cleanroom experts at Angstrom Technology.

What is the Difference Between a Controlled Environment and a Cleanroom?

What is the Difference Between a Controlled Environment and a Cleanroom?

The words cleanroom and controlled environment are often used interchangeably when talking about environment control in critical spaces. But there is a difference, and that difference is crucial. When it comes to controlled environments vs. cleanrooms, here’s what you need to know:

 

What’s a controlled environment?

 

A controlled environment, or critical environment, is an area that must have certain parameters controlled, specifically, pressure, temperature, and segregation. Many laboratories are considered controlled environments, as they have controlled temperature and pressure and are separated from other operations, such as manufacturing or shipping. Unlike cleanrooms, controlled environments do not necessarily have to meet certain standards for particle contamination.

 

What’s a cleanroom?

 

A cleanroom is a type of controlled environment, but one with much more stringent requirements. Cleanrooms require temperature and pressure control, as well as separation from the outside environment and other operations, but these things must be controlled to specific standards. Cleanrooms are classified by the maximum acceptable numbers of particles (by size) in the air per cubic meter, and must be regularly tested to ensure compliance to that standard (see more about cleanroom classifications here). Compared with other controlled environments, cleanrooms may require more energy, air, and advanced technology to maintain the cleanroom conditions.

 

Which do I need, a cleanroom or a controlled environment?

 

This depends on two factors: your application and your industry. If you’re packaging medical devices, you’ll need an ISO class 7 complaint cleanroom, or higher. If you have a process control laboratory for a chrome plating company, you aren’t required to meet a specific ISO classification, but definitely need to control the environment. You may even have different needs within your facility; you may need a controlled storage environment for sensitive materials that may not need to meet cleanroom standards, but have and ISO class 8 cleanroom for quality control testing.

 

Angstrom has the experience and knowledge to design the right cleanroom for your application. Contact us today to find out more!

How to Control Humidity in Your Cleanroom

How to Control Humidity in Your Cleanroom

Controlling the humidity in your cleanroom is crucial, not only to meet government and company specifications, but to protect the integrity of your processes and product. If the humidity is too high, bacterial growth can flourish, metal products or equipment can corrode, photolithographic degradation can occur, and condensation and water absorption can occur. If the humidity is too low, static buildup and discharge can become an issue. Plus, poorly controlled humidity can make working conditions uncomfortable for your employees. What are some of the methods you can use to control humidity in your cleanroom?

Air conditioning/mechanical refrigeration

Humidity is relative, meaning that the lower the temperature is, the lower the relative humidity is. It makes sense then if you lower the temperature in the space, the humidity will decrease. When using air conditioning systems to dehumidify a space, the system lowers the temperature of a surface to a temperature below the dew point of the airstream in the cleanroom. The surface is exposed to the airstream in the cleanroom, and the water vapor in the airstream condenses, subsequently dehumidifying the space. To maintain the desired room temperature, the air must be re-heated and piped back into the cleanroom.

Desiccants

Desiccant systems draw air through a desiccant medium, which absorbs moisture. The dehumidified air is then routed to the cleanroom. Unlike consumer-grade desiccant systems, which collect condensate in a receptacle that must be emptied (if you’ve ever had a dehumidifier in your home, say in a finished basement, which can trap moisture, you’ll recall having to empty the condensed water), commercial systems exhaust humid air through the ductwork, out of the building. This allows for greater dehumidifying power and the ability to dehumidify to lower relative humidity levels at lower temperatures.

These systems are not mutually exclusive, in fact, both work best when used in conjunction, especially where temperature control is also important, as in a cleanroom. Using a desiccant system in addition to air conditioning can also help reduce the load on the HVAC system, saving energy, wear and tear on the HVAC system, and, of course, money.

Humidity control is absolutely critical in some cleanroom applications, such as semiconductor manufacturing and pharmaceutical manufacturing, but it is an important consideration no matter your application. Monitoring and controlling your cleanroom humidity, whether through air conditioning/mechanical refrigeration, a desiccant system, or both, is necessary to meet your cleanroom’s specifications and to ensure cleanroom integrity.   

No matter your application, Angstrom can design a cleanroom to meet your cleanroom needs. Contact us to discuss your cleanroom project.

All About E-Liquid Cleanrooms

All About E-Liquid Cleanrooms

With the surge in popularity of electronic cigarettes, the need for regulation and standardization of e-cigarette and e-liquid manufacturing has emerged. In May 2016, the FDA issued a final rule which brought these products under its authority. In addition to regulatory compliance, cleanrooms for e-liquid manufacture allow for quality control and product consistency by providing a controlled environment free of harmful contamination.

The American E-liquid Manufacturing Association dictates a dedicated “lab/mixing space” and that manufacturing processes meet food preparation standards. (Click here to see the current AEMSA standards.) E-cigarette and e-liquid manufacturing is now regulated by the FDA, which is working to require that these products be manufactured within a controlled cleanroom environment. The necessary cleanroom classification is dependent upon the specific product and process, but e-liquid manufacturing would generally require cleanrooms to meet and be certified to ISO Class 7 or ISO Class 8 standards.

When it comes to installing a cleanroom for your e-liquid manufacturing business, sooner is better than later, especially with FDA legislation looming. Modular cleanrooms are one of the best options for e-liquid cleanrooms for a variety of reasons. Modular clean rooms have better lighting options than traditionally constructed spaces, as well as greater flexibility since modular cleanrooms can be easily reconfigured or expanded when your operation changes. They are often less expensive and time-consuming to install than traditional construction and offer greater flexibility when it comes to location and placement. Modular cleanrooms are essentially self-contained and can be placed nearly anywhere in your space for greatest efficiency and convenience, even in the middle of a large warehouse-type building.

Additionally, various parts of your process may require different levels of cleanroom control. Hardwall cleanrooms provide the highest level of control over contamination, humidity, and pressure, and are ideal for manufacturing activities and quality control testing; softwall cleanrooms can provide clean, contaminant-free space for e-liquid bulk storage.

As demand for e-liquid increases, so does consumer and regulatory scrutiny on its manufacture. Manufacturing e-liquids in a cleanroom environment is becoming a necessity, and ensuring that the cleanroom meets the industry ISO standard and your company’s needs is an important consideration.

Designing a cleanroom for your e-liquid company? Call Angstrom Technology. We have the experience and the technology to create the cleanroom you need.