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.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cleanroom Classifications

Frequently Asked Questions About Cleanroom Classifications

Cleanroom classification is one of the most confusing – yet important – parts of designing and building your cleanroom. If you’re installing a cleanroom for the first time, you’re bound to have a lot of questions. Here are some answers to the most common cleanroom classification questions we receive.

 

1. What classification do I need?

It depends on your industry. The requirements will vary depending upon what size particles need to be filtered, the sources of contamination present, and recommended air change rate. If your industry is government regulated, you can check applicable regulation to see what classification is required. If there is no government-mandated or industry default classification, you’ll need to determine the appropriate classification, based on your application.

 

2. How are cleanrooms classified?

There are two different classification scales that are generally used, the U.S. General Service Administration standards (FS209E) and International Standards Organization (ISO) classifications. The classes are determined by the maximum acceptable numbers of particles (by size) in the air per cubic meter. See Cleanroom Classifications & Standards here.

 

3. How often do I need to test my cleanroom to see if it’s meeting classification requirements?

ISO requires that air pressure difference and air flow be tested every 12 months for all classifications. Particle count tests must be performed every 12 months ISO Class 6 and above, every six months for ISO Class 5 and below. There are also tests recommended for all classes, every 24 months: installed filter leakage, containment filter leakage, recovery, and airflow visualization. These tests are regulated by ISO document 14644-2 Cleanroom Testing and Compliance.

 

4. How often do I need to have my cleanroom inspected?

This depends on your classification. The more stringent classifications will require more regular inspection. Inspection may coincide with compliance testing, which, depending upon the cleanroom classification may occur every six or 12 months.

 

5. How does cleanroom classification affect my budget?

Essentially, the more stringent the classification, the greater the cost. Strict classifications will require more air, energy, advanced technology, and equipment. See How Does Cleanroom Classification Affect Your Cleanroom Budget? for a more detailed breakdown of the costs.

 

If you have more questions about your cleanroom classifications, check out our post What You Need to Know About Cleanroom Classifications, and make sure to give Angstrom a call! We’d love to help.

 

Benefits of Modular Cleanrooms

Benefits of Modular Cleanrooms

If you have a cleanroom, are installing a cleanroom, or are considering whether your company needs a cleanroom, you already know why cleanrooms are important and necessary for your operations. You may not have considered, however, the type of cleanroom: a traditionally constructed space or a modular cleanroom. Modular cleanrooms have numerous benefits when compared to traditional construction, here are just a few:

 

Modular cleanrooms are free-standing

A free-standing cleanroom can be placed nearly anywhere, without extensive construction or renovation (and the costs and disruption those processes entail). If you have a free-standing modular cleanroom, you’re able to place it in the optimum location–whether that is the middle of a large open production floor or tucked back in a corner. You don’t need to build walls or change existing ones. Additionally, electricity and plumbing are already engineered into the cleanroom as part of the modular design.

 

Modular cleanrooms are quickly built

Building something from a kit, with the building materials included and the design already completed is always a simpler, easier, and quicker process than starting from scratch. Installing a modular cleanroom streamlines the building process–the design is complete, the materials selected and included, and construction simple and straightforward.

Just as modular cleanrooms are easy to assemble, they can also be easily disassembled, when compared to permanent construction. If you decide to move your cleanroom’s location within your facility or move it to a new facility, it can be quickly taken down and rebuilt in the new space.

 

Modular cleanrooms are easily modified or expanded

Should your company’s cleanroom needs ever change, modifying a modular cleanroom is much easier than renovating or remodeling a traditionally constructed space. Modular cleanroom walls are easily moved to accommodate a new cleanroom layout, and they can be expanded by adding additional wall pieces. You don’t need to start fresh with all new materials every time your cleanroom needs change.

A modular cleanroom can be a benefit for your company when you consider their flexibility, portability, and ease of installation and modification. Modular cleanrooms allow you to customize your cleanroom space to the ever-changing and evolving needs and capabilities of your company, and they are an excellent cleanroom solution that can save time and money.

 

Angstrom is a leader of the modular cleanroom industry. Whatever the size and classification of your project, we can design a cleanroom that fits your specifications. Contact us for more information.

 

Benefits of Cleanroom Pass-Through Chambers

Pass-through chambers are an ideal addition to just about any cleanroom. They’re easy to install, they don’t draw much out of your budget, and they hold tons of benefits for the operation of your cleanroom. While there are all types of pass-through chambers, from basic transaction windows to industrial roll-up door pass-throughs, most cleanroom pass-throughs fall into the dual-door category. Because the removal of contaminants is any cleanroom’s top priority, most cleanroom pass-through chambers have two doors, one on the outside and one on the inside of the cleanroom. Those cleanrooms that must meet higher standards often install pass-throughs with additional features like an air shower or fire resistance, but the general construction and operation is the same.

What are the benefits of cleanroom pass-through chambers?

  • They allow your employees to transfer materials in and out of your cleanroom without contamination.
  • They make it easy for employees to pass materials into the cleanroom without having to gown. This also cuts down on the number of employees in your cleanroom at any one time.
  • They come in a variety of sizes and materials, ensuring you get the pass-through that meets the needs of your employees. Stainless steel options are corrosion-free, which extends the life of your pass-through, and helps keep your cleanroom clean.
  • Double door designs ensure cross contamination doesn’t happen. And heavy duty sealing lock features keep contaminants out of the chamber when it’s not in use.
  • Most pass-through chambers are customizable, allowing you to choose the option that best fits the needs of your cleanroom. Whether you need a fire safe option, one that’s chemical resistant, or a pass-through chamber that includes a blower with HEPA filtered air, you can choose the chamber that best suits your cleanroom needs, ensuring you benefit from a pass-through chamber, regardless of your cleanroom classification.

How do cleanroom pass-through chambers increase productivity?

The single greatest benefit of a cleanroom pass-through chamber is its ability to speed up your processes and increase employee productivity. Pass-through chambers eliminate the need for employees to properly gown to enter a cleanroom environment just to hand off a necessary item or sample. As you likely know, the gowning process can be time-consuming, and additionally, the more employees you have in a cleanroom, the greater the chance for contamination. When employees can simply place materials in the pass-through chamber, you save a great deal of time on both sides of the cleanroom. Best of all, pass-through chambers are easily installed, whether you have an existing cleanroom or you’ve just commissioned a new one.

Who uses pass-through chambers?

The benefits of pass-through chambers are clear. They boost productivity without sacrificing cleanliness. So, which cleanroom industries use pass-through chambers, and how?

Research Facilities

Because research facilities often study new and unpredictable chemicals and substances, they need pass-through chambers for safety more than for convenience. Because some chemicals can easily become volatile and cause fires, fire safe pass-throughs are commonly used in this application. These pass-through chambers can withstand fire exposure for up to 90 minutes, and their sturdy construction maintains frame shape that protects research labs from destruction. While these labs also often make use of air shower pass-throughs to decontaminate materials before they’re introduced to the lab, fire safe pass-throughs are the most common.

Medical and Pharmaceutical cleanrooms

Decontamination is the first priority of both medical and pharmaceutical cleanrooms. Because hospital laboratories often deal with highly contagious substances, it’s paramount that the environment remains sterile. In the same vein, pharmaceutical cleanrooms have to ensure there is absolutely no contamination in the manufacturing process that could alter their product. In both cases, these cleanrooms require pass-through chambers that keep samples, specimens, and other materials sterile as they’re brought into the cleanroom. These industries typically make use of a standard two door pass-through chamber that keeps outside contaminants from entering the cleanroom and ensures the materials remain sterile as they’re waiting to be brought in.

Electronic and technology manufacturing cleanrooms

Manufacturing facilities that put together the complex inner workings of technological devices like computers and smartphones require very strict cleanroom environments that filter out even the smallest particles of dust and other contaminants. Just one tiny particle settling on a single piece in the manufacturing environment could render a future hard drive useless. Many electronic and technology manufacturing cleanrooms opt for highly monitored pass-through windows in order to maintain the sterility necessary to produce quality electronic products while maintaining a high level of productivity.

 

Pass-through chambers are a highly useful component of any cleanroom. They help you ensure that you keep your processes moving, while maintaining the high standard of cleanliness within your cleanroom. If you’re installing a new cleanroom, or even if you’re considering adding a pass-through chamber to your existing cleanroom, be sure to give the experts at Angstrom Technology a call! We’ve been manufacturing top-of-the-line cleanrooms for years and would be more than happy to help you find the pass-through best for your operation. Call our office at 888-768-6900 or contact us online today!

How Does Cleanroom Classification Affect Your Cleanroom Budget?

How Does Cleanroom Classification Affect Your Cleanroom Budget?

No matter what company you work for or in what application you need a cleanroom, you have a budget. If you own your own company, you likely have to figure that budget out for yourself, and if you’re commissioning a cleanroom on the behalf of your employer, you’ve probably been given a budget that you need to stick to. One of the biggest factors that will determine that budget will be the cleanroom classification that your application has to comply with. For example, if you’re a medical device packaging company, your new cleanroom will have to meet an ISO 7 standard. These classifications differ based on industry and application and are defined based on the size and amount of particles allowed in an operational cleanroom. For a more in-depth look at how cleanroom classifications work, check out this page with a full chart on the requirements of each class.

 

It’s good to know that the classification of your cleanroom will definitely affect your budget in that the lower number classes, which are more restrictive and “cleaner,” are going to cost more than the higher number classes, say an ISO 8, which allows for a great deal of both small and large particulate. But how exactly does a more stringent cleanroom classification affect your budget, and in what specific ways will you see that when you get to the design phase?

 

It all starts with the three most important determining factors of each cleanroom class:

 

What size particles do you need to filter?

What sources of contamination you have?

What is the recommended air change rate for your cleanroom classification?

 

In understanding the answers to these three questions, it will be easier to see how cleanroom classification affects your company’s cleanroom budget. Let’s start with the size of particles:

Particle size

Each cleanroom classification level allows for a certain amount and size of particles in an operational cleanroom. Some classes don’t allow larger sized particles in, but aren’t as concerned with the smaller particles. Other classes, like an ISO 1, require that almost all particulate, of all sizes, are kept out of the cleanroom. Now, the size of the particles you need to keep out of your cleanroom will affect which filters you buy, and some filters are more expensive than others.

 

Where a small ISO 5 cleanroom might only need one or two heavy duty HEPA or ULPA filters, an ISO 1 cleanroom of the same size could need a great deal more filters. Not only are you buying higher quality filters, at that point, you’re also buying considerably more. The size and amount of particles that are allowed in your cleanroom affect the quality of filters and other technology you’ll need, with the most general understanding being the higher the filtration requirements, the higher the overall cost for your cleanroom will be.

Sources of contamination

Sources of contamination most generally refer to where particulate can get into your cleanroom. So, how many doors, and how many windows does your cleanroom need? Do you have to build all the cleanroom walls initially, or are you installing a cleanroom within an existing building? All of these considerations relate to your cleanroom’s sources of contamination. Depending on the classification of your cleanroom, you’ll have different sources of contamination to watch out for.

 

For example, if your cleanroom needs an air lock or a pass through chamber to ensure that employees and sterile supplies can get in and out of the cleanroom without contamination, that will add on to your overall cost. On the other hand, if your cleanroom is configured to only need one or two doors, your cost is likely to be lower. This is one aspect of cleanroom classification that you have a bit more freedom to work within your budget, as you often have the option to choose how many entrances you want, as well as if you plan on installing an air lock or pass through chamber.

Air change rate

Perhaps the biggest draw on your budget out of these three considerations, the required air change rate in your cleanroom will either drive the cost of your cleanroom way up, or bring it way down. Each ISO class requires a different exchange rate, from 750 air changes per hour, all the way down to just 5 changes per hour. The lower the number of air changes per hour, the cheaper your cleanroom is going to be, simply based on the amount of work your heating and cooling system will have to do. If your cleanroom needs 750 air changes per hour, that means that you’re drawing considerably more energy at a fairly constant rate, which will drive your costs up. What’s more, an HVAC system with the ductwork necessary to facilitate that amount of air changes is also likely to cost you, unless you already have an adequate system installed.

 

The bottom line is, a cleanroom with a higher standard is likely to cost you more. Because cleanrooms with stricter requirements require more advanced technology and a great deal more air and therefore energy, your company will need a larger budget to accommodate those needs. That doesn’t mean that you can’t build the cleanroom you need though. There are all kinds of ways to choose design options that can lower your budget, and cut costs on luxury items you don’t really need.

 

If you’re worried about building a cleanroom that sticks to the budget you have, be sure to contact the experts at Angstrom Technology. We’ve been designing and building custom cleanrooms for over 25 years and will deliver the cleanroom you need, at the price you can afford. To chat with us about how to meet your budget and your deadline, give us a call at 888-768-6900, or contact us online today!