Static Control for Medical Device Cleanrooms: Everything You Need to Know

Static Control for Medical Device Cleanrooms: Everything You Need to Know

Even with a powerful HVAC system, a multi-stage HEPA filtration process, and thorough cleaning procedures, contaminants can still threaten a controlled cleanroom environment. Static electricity is common everywhere we live, but in a cleanroom it can be unpleasant, detrimental, and even dangerous. How can the dangers of static affect your application? How can these problems be avoided? Let’s explore static electricity in medical device cleanrooms, and how to build static control into your cleanroom design from the ground up.

 

Why Does Static Matter?

Static electricity is caused by an imbalance of positive and negative charges on a surface or object. These charges accumulate until they’re neutralized or discharged. It’s a common phenomenon in all parts of the world and is usually harmless. In a cleanroom, however, the buildup of static electricity can be dangerous to products and employees. 

Static electricity in cleanrooms can present dangers to any industry, but in medical device manufacturing, assembly, and packaging it could have disastrous, life-altering consequences. Three ways static can influence with medical device cleanroom safety and efficiency are by:

 

Attracting Contaminants

Static causes contaminants to adhere to charged surfaces through electrostatic attraction (ESA). ESA can occur in many stages of product development and assembly but is perhaps most dangerous in packaging. Particularly if products are packaged using plastic, they can carry charges that are not neutralized during shipping. Once opened, contaminants are attracted to the device, causing it to fail or be rejected. 

 

Inhibiting Equipment

Static that accumulates during product development can interrupt important processes. If parts of the device are repelled or attracted to machinery or equipment it can contaminate them or cause a slowdown in operations, reducing your cleanroom’s efficiency and increasing operational costs.

 

Generating Charges

Static charges that accumulate on surfaces, equipment, personnel, and products that are not properly discharged or neutralized can interfere with electronics or hardware you use to create devices or the devices themselves, causing them to malfunction or fail. Static charges can also create electric shocks, which, while not likely to cause extreme bodily harm, could cause involuntary movement which could lead to accidents or damage to the employee, delicate equipment, or devices. 

Managing static effectively is crucial. Even when the effects of static electricity in medical device cleanrooms are not threatening to the devices you develop, assemble, or package, they may interfere with efficiency and affect operational costs of your facility.  How do you control static in your cleanroom? Many potential problems can be addressed in your cleanroom design and then managed with specific static control cleanroom supplies.

 

Static Control Methods in Cleanroom Design

Cleanroom design can incorporate methods to conduct, dissipate, or neutralize static electricity.

 

Conduction

In conduction, materials or surfaces that present little resistance to the flow of electrons are used to guide charges to the ground safely. Conductive materials direct charges away from where they can damage products or attract contaminants. 

 

Dissipation

Dissipation, similar to conduction, is the flow of charges to the ground, but occurs more slowly and in a more controlled manner. Materials that allow electrostatic discharge through dissipation can be used in flooring, wall materials, and furniture. ESD products discourage the buildup of static electricity to protect products, employees, and cleanroom operations. 

 

Neutralization

To neutralize static, the imbalance of charges must be corrected through adding electrons to positive charges or removing electrons from negative charges. Air ionization is one method more medical cleanrooms are adopting to neutralize air and surface charges. 

An air ionization system adds positive and negative ions to the atmosphere of your cleanroom, directing them with a focused nozzle or blower. The ions are attracted to charged surfaces of the opposite polarity, balancing and effectively neutralizing the surface. Air ionization systems can be incorporated in key areas of production of medical devices, as well as at entry points of the cleanroom to limit the introduction of charges into the cleanroom by employees.

 

Static Control Equipment Cleanroom Supplies

To control static electricity and prevent harmful effects including damage to your equipment, employees, and products, anti-static cleanroom supplies are used to manage static or avoid the generation of excess charges. These could include:

  • Air showers
  • Ionizing blowers
  • Sticky mats to collect contaminants
  • ESD safe furniture such as chairs and workstations
  • ESD garments, gloves, and footwear 
  • ESD monitoring equipment

Static control is also important for cleanrooms using fine electronics and sensitive or flammable substances. In the medical industry the production of medical devices might be the application most threatened by static electricity. With intentional cleanroom design and static control cleanroom supplies, you can protect your products and people, encourage efficient operation, and avoid the potential problems of escalated costs or failed products. 

Think you need static control in your medical cleanroom, but not sure where to start? Angstrom Technology can design and build cleanrooms to your specifications using conductive flooring, ESD materials, static control equipment, and more. We have solutions to avoid static buildup and protect your work and employees. Get in touch with our team to learn more.

Where Should I Install My Cleanroom?

Where Should I Install My Cleanroom?

Cleanroom installation requires as much careful planning as cleanroom design. When deciding on the best place to install your cleanroom, you’ll need to consider a few factors. First, take a look at your classification. Your cleanroom classification will determine what type of cleanroom you can build, how it should be built, and even what materials you can use in cleanroom construction. 

Once you know what kind of cleanroom you can build, you can consider if it will be more efficient or cost effective to install your cleanroom in your existing building or build a freestanding cleanroom. Let’s go over this process in more detail.

 

Consider Your Cleanroom Classification

Your first stop on the road to a complete cleanroom installation is to look closely at your cleanroom classification. A cleanroom classification defines how “clean” your environment needs to be, specifically noting the allowances for particle sizes and air change rates within your cleanroom. 

Your cleanroom’s classification will determine a lot about how your cleanroom can be built and what materials can be used. Depending on the strictness of your cleanroom standards, there may be certain building practices more suited to your needs. For example, cleanrooms with higher cleanliness standards, like aerospace cleanrooms and medical cleanrooms, will have limited options for cleanroom types and materials in order to control airflow and particle size, and limit any potential contamination as much as possible. 

 

Cleanroom Classification and Cleanroom Installation

Higher cleanroom classifications will require more complete control over particle count with frequent air changes and fine adjustments to temperature, humidity, pressure, and static; and filter out not only airborne particulates but also control surface particulates. These types of cleanrooms will likely require the installation of separate, powerful HVAC and filtration systems, and will only use materials that are non-particle shedding and able to be thoroughly cleaned. 

If your requirements are less stringent, like in some automotive cleanrooms and plastics manufacturing industries, you will likely be less limited in your material choices and cleanroom types. If you have the room, you may be able to install your cleanroom right in your existing building, and adapt the existing HVAC to control your cleanroom environment.

Whether you can adapt your space for cleanroom installation or you need to construct a separate, freestanding unit, your cleanroom classification will be the guide for your cleanroom design and build. 

 

Where to Install Your Cleanroom

With a full understanding of your cleanroom classification requirements, consider the space and structural demands of your work. Your existing space or designated cleanroom area should leave plenty of room for necessary equipment, furniture, storage, and personnel. 

You should also consider your building’s location before your cleanroom installation. Is your building located in an area that experiences more traffic and pollution? Is it next to a manufacturing facility, highway, railway, or shipping terminal? While these might not discourage your location choice, keep in mind they might increase the demand on your cleanroom’s filters, requiring them to be replaced more frequently or the implementation of a strategic airflow pattern to manage contaminants.

 

Build in Your Space

If your cleanroom classification and available space permit it, you may be able to install your cleanroom in your existing building. Cleanrooms can be built in your manufacturing facility, warehouse, laboratory, or even within another cleanroom. If you’re building a cleanroom using your existing structure, make sure you have enough room for everything it needs to operate, as well as space to allow easy movement and accessibility. You can either build the cleanroom traditionally or complete the cleanroom installation conveniently and quickly using modular cleanroom panels. 

The advantages of modular cleanrooms are that they can be installed in less time and for a reduced cost. Fewer people are needed to install a modular cleanroom, which means a quicker lead time, so you can have your cleanroom up and running in just a few days. Modular panels can also be easily customized, repurposed, or modified as your projects and needs evolve.

 

Construct a Free-Standing Cleanroom

Using HardWall, SoftWall, or RigidWall panels, install your cleanroom in a convenient and accessible place in your facility. Your cleanroom will be designed with the ideal layout to accommodate all equipment, furniture, and employees. The cleanroom can be freestanding and attached to the floor, or suspended from a strong ceiling grid. 

When your cleanroom is installed, you’ll also be able to set up and install the HVAC and filtration systems to create your optimal airflow and air change rate, as well as control pressure, temperature, and humidity within the cleanroom environment. Standardized systems and fixtures like fan filter units, lighting modules, and cleanroom furniture make the installation quicker and simpler.

 

Remodel Your Space for Cleanroom Installation

Depending on the space you’re using to construct your cleanroom, it may require some preparation before the modular panels can be set up and installed. You may need to create more space, adapt existing systems for utilities, heating, and cooling, or hook up new units to connect to your building’s power and ducts. You may also need to add new flooring or insulation in order to meet requirements and prepare the space for cleanroom installation. Always consult your cleanroom classification for guidelines about what materials are acceptable in your cleanroom environment.

With detailed planning and a complete knowledge of your needs and cleanroom requirements, you can install your cleanroom in a place that is convenient, accessible, and compliant with your cleanroom classification. If you know you need a cleanroom, but you’re not sure where you should put it, seek out advice from professionals. The cleanroom design experts at Angstrom Technology can take a look at your needs and your facility, and offer you the perfect solution. To talk with our professional team, give us a call or reach out to us online

Medical Cleanroom Design Tips: Choosing Cabinetry

Medical Cleanroom Design Tips: Choosing Cabinetry

Choosing cleanroom cabinets requires some thought, as there aren’t clear guidelines for which are best for every cleanroom application. No official certification system exists for cabinetry the way other cleanroom materials are declared safe for use in cleanrooms. It’s important to carefully consider a few factors when making your choice, such as your medical cleanroom classification, what materials are compatible for use within your facility, and how your cleanroom cabinets will be used.

Medical cleanroom cabinets are used for safely storing products and substances to keep them out of the way in a cool, dry environment. You can use cleanroom cabinets for storing various items including:

  • Tools and equipment
  • Biological samples
  • Hazardous substances
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Gowns and booties
  • Industry-specific products

 

Types of Cleanroom Cabinets

Not every cabinet will be compatible with your cleanroom. The ideal cabinet for your application will be functional and space-efficient, and not introduce contaminants into the cleanroom nor allow them to collect on the material. Here are a few common medical cleanroom cabinet materials.

 

Stainless Steel Cleanroom Cabinets

Stainless steel cleanroom cabinets are the most popular style because they function well in many different types of cleanrooms. Great for diverse applications, stainless steel can handle wet or dry conditions and a wide range of temperatures. Stainless steel also has the advantage of being easy to maintain and sanitize. 

These cleanroom cabinets can build up static electricity, so they should be used in a cleanroom where static isn’t a threat, or adapted with a grounding or dissipation system built into the cabinet design. (Tip: For superior corrosion resistance, consider electropolished stainless steel.)

 

Open Wire Shelving

If your cleanroom uses a vertical airflow pattern, you may instead choose wire shelving over cabinets, in order to let the air move freely and limit the collection of contaminants. Either chrome-plated wire or polymer shelving are both great options that are about a third the cost of stainless steel. Open wire shelving is best for cleanrooms that don’t use corrosive agents in operation or for cleaning.

 

Laminate Cleanroom Storage Cabinets

Laminate cleanroom cabinets are an affordable choice for storage in cleanrooms with less stringent requirements. These cabinets are available in a variety of configurations with adjustable shelves. They can be either wall mounted, freestanding, or on casters.

 

Epoxy Cleanroom Cabinets

An epoxy coating can be applied to cleanroom cabinets and surfaces to increase stain resistance. Epoxy cleanroom cabinets work well for wet and dry applications.

 

Polyurethane Cleanroom Cabinets

Polyurethane is another coating similar to epoxy, but with greater chemical resistance. Polyurethane cleanroom cabinets have a smooth surface that is easy to clean and difficult to scratch or chip.

 

Acrylic Cleanroom Cabinets

Clear acrylic cleanroom storage cabinets are great for protecting products, parts, and substances. Using transparent cabinets can limit unnecessary movement in the cleanroom, reducing the risk of contamination.

 

Choosing Cleanroom Cabinets

As an important part of cleanroom design, all storage solutions like cleanroom cabinets and shelves used in a controlled environment must be compatible with cleanroom use and limit contaminant collection. Consider your cleanroom’s airflow pattern when choosing cabinets or shelves and avoid obstructing your HVAC and filtering system. Your cleanroom cabinets should also be able to withstand the materials you use for cleaning without corroding or shedding particles. Finally, if your cleanroom operations or staff are endangered by static electricity, avoid conductive materials unless you have a method to ground charges.

If you’re still not sure which cleanroom cabinets are best for your cleanroom, let Angstrom Technology help. As cleanroom design experts, we can help you choose the option that’s best for your application, and that meets your cleanroom classification. For more help choosing cleanroom cabinets and other furnishings, give us a call or reach out online

5 Benefits of Hardwall Cleanrooms for the Aerospace Industry

5 Benefits of Hardwall Cleanrooms for the Aerospace Industry

Aerospace cleanrooms often require high levels of control, regulated by high cleanroom classifications. To achieve stringent standards, while allowing flexibility for project changes and environmental adjustments, some of the best cleanrooms for the aerospace industry are HardWall cleanrooms. Let’s look at five benefits HardWall cleanrooms can offer your aerospace projects.

 

HardWall Cleanrooms Are Stable

When working within a cleanroom environment, having control over environmental variables can make or break a project. That’s why a stable cleanroom is so important for all cleanroom applications, but especially for those with higher cleanroom classifications. At best, instability can make your work unpredictable and unproductive; at worst, someone could get hurt. To avoid these scenarios, you need a cleanroom you can trust to keep your products and people safe; one that will allow you to control your environment and limit contamination by unwanted forces or particles as much as possible.

HardWall cleanrooms offer the most stability of any modular cleanroom. Particularly for higher classification and specialized aerospace cleanrooms, this cleanroom type offers more control across a wide range of requirements. The sturdy floor-to-ceiling panels create a fully sealed space for total power over environmental factors like temperature, humidity, and pressure. If your cleanroom needs the ability to control minute differences effectively and conveniently, a HardWall cleanroom is the best choice for your project.

 

HardWall Cleanrooms Are Customized

The best cleanroom for any project is one that is uniquely suited to your application, yet also versatile enough to adapt to your needs as your work develops. With HardWall cleanrooms, you can have both. HardWall modular cleanroom panels are fully customizable for your application, equipment specifications, and cleanroom classification. The panels are hardwearing for heavy use and can conform to your desired level of control as you need it. 

In the aerospace industry, the customization is particularly valuable. If your project requirements change from development to manufacturing to assembly, your cleanroom can be modified to meet new standards. If you need to change your layout to accommodate larger equipment or hardware, HardWall cleanrooms are easy to adapt, add to, reconfigure, or even relocate to a new space. All cleanrooms are an investment, but with a Hardwall cleanroom, you get the most out of your money.

 

HardWall Cleanrooms Are Convenient

If you need to set up a project quickly, or just don’t want to deal with the hassle of building a cleanroom from the floor up, you won’t find a better quality or more convenient option than a modular HardWall cleanroom. Each modular panel is built to your specifications offsite to later be assembled with ease at your desired location. Working with an expert cleanroom designer, you can choose the ideal layout for your cleanroom and decide on important design features ahead of time. Modular cleanroom panels arrive prewired for efficiency, with insulation already built-in, so you can get your new aerospace cleanroom up and running as soon as possible. 

Once installed, HardWall cleanrooms are easy to maintain and clean. The stationary wall design is more convenient to sanitize than a flexible one, so you can feel confident in your cleaning results. Made of non-particle shedding and non-off gassing materials, your HardWall cleanroom will protect your work with little effort required, for as long as you need it.

 

HardWall Cleanrooms Are Durable

In the aerospace industry, the products you develop and manufacture are designed to endure some of the most extreme conditions. Shouldn’t your cleanroom be just as durable? HardWall cleanrooms are constructed with heavy-duty frames that can either be attached to the floor or suspended from a reinforced ceiling grid. The modular panels won’t sag or bend over time and are guaranteed to be a long-lasting, secure, and chemically-resistant solution.

Designed to stand up in the toughest environments, HardWall cleanrooms are perfectly suited for aerospace applications. With this kind of durability, your work and investment will be safe and well-protected.

 

HardWall Cleanrooms Are Adaptable

A major benefit of modular HardWall cleanrooms is that they are incredibly adaptable. Modular panels can be arranged and installed almost anywhere. If you want your cleanroom located within an existing room or structure, a HardWall cleanroom can be easily installed, no new build required. HardWall cleanrooms can either be freestanding, suspended from a strong ceiling grid, or attached to an existing building structure.

HardWall cleanrooms can adapt to your space seamlessly, with either a separate HVAC system or integration with your building’s existing systems. Your cleanroom can also utilize light from existing windows and be designed around mounted equipment and utilities. If your project requirements change, the modular panels can be reconfigured, expanded, or condensed to meet new classification requirements or accommodate new equipment or hardware.

These modular cleanrooms are so versatile and reliable, they have us wondering: What can’t HardWall cleanrooms do? If you’re looking for a top-quality cleanroom that will give you full control over your space with the added convenience of prefabricated modular panels, this cleanroom type is the best choice for your aerospace project.

Time to install a HardWall cleanroom in your facility? Let us know! Our team can help design and install the cleanroom that’s perfect for your application. To get started on your project, give us a call or reach out to us online.

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