5 Advantages of Softwall Cleanrooms in the Plastic Industry

5 Advantages of Softwall Cleanrooms in the Plastic Industry

Examples of applications that can use SoftWall cleanrooms and benefits they provide in plastics industry cleanrooms, having project versatility is priceless. Modular SoftWall cleanrooms give you the ability to adapt to changes to create better products more efficiently — to help you reach your business goals and grow your profits. Here are five advantages SoftWall cleanrooms can offer the plastics industry:

#1 SoftWall Cleanrooms are Reconfigurable

In the plastics industry, demand can change quickly whether it’s producing poly bags through extrusion molding or manufacturing medical devices with injection molding machines. Having a SoftWall cleanroom enables your operations to shift into a higher gear quickly and adapt to changes seamlessly. 

SoftWall vinyl curtains allow your cleanroom to be easily expanded, condensed, or reconfigured as your project needs evolve. If you need more equipment or personnel to increase production, you can easily grow the SoftWall cleanroom by adding more panels. Or, if you’re working with a small space, SoftWall cleanrooms are much more compact than other cleanroom types, and can be streamlined to work in virtually any size space.

#2 SoftWall Cleanrooms are Easy to Install

If you need to set up a controlled environment quickly, SoftWall cleanrooms offer the advantage of an easy installation. New SoftWall cleanrooms can be set up in just a few hours. Compared to other cleanroom types that can take days to weeks to be fully installed, SoftWall cleanrooms are ideal for applications that need to get off the ground quickly. 

Despite their quick lead time, SoftWall cleanrooms don’t sacrifice quality. SoftWall cleanrooms are designed to meet your exact specifications. Their modular design and straightforward assembly means they can be put together by your team following the included instructions, or set up efficiently by a professional team of cleanroom experts.

#3 SoftWall Cleanrooms are Easy to Maintain

The simple, minimalist construction of SoftWall cleanrooms not only looks good in any space, but is also easy to maintain — so it always looks new and clean. Each panel consists of a sturdy and attractive aluminum alloy frame with a fresh powder coat enamel.  The curtain can be made of your choice of material — antistatic PVC, conductive PVC, polyethylene, vinyl, and more. The smooth design makes the panels extremely easy to clean and maintain, as there’s nowhere for tricky particles to shed or adhere where they could threaten your project.

SoftWall cleanroom panels can be suspended from a ceiling grid or freestanding in your space. The panels’ lightweight construction means your cleanroom can be easily moved around just about anywhere and reconfigured as you see fit. 

#4 SoftWall Cleanrooms are Customized to Your Application

SoftWall Cleanrooms can meet cleanroom standards ISO 14644-1 Classes 4-8, which means they are capable of reaching some of the most stringent requirements and cleanroom classifications. SoftWall cleanrooms can be outfitted with the essential systems and special features you need to make your project a success. 

From a custom lighting plan to cleanroom furniture and storage systems, SoftWall cleanrooms are designed to work perfectly for your application and industry-specific requirements. They may even be able to be integrated with your existing HVAC system, as long as it’s powerful enough to support the demands of your project.

#5 SoftWall Cleanrooms Provide Ultimate Flexibility

The biggest advantage of SoftWall cleanrooms for the plastics industry is that they give your operations room to grow. Both your space and your budget are given breathing room when you choose SoftWall cleanrooms, as they can meet cleanroom standards easily, and be customized to fit your application, and are also an approachable investment. 

With a SoftWall cleanroom you can start small and expand your operations and budget over time. SoftWall cleanrooms can also be easily stored if you decide to design a new cleanroom down the road. Whether you’re starting out, or just prefer to have the increased flexibility SoftWall cleanrooms provide, this cleanroom type is ideal for plastics industry applications wanting to scale or streamline their operations. 

SoftWall cleanrooms have many advantages for the plastics industry, allowing your cleanroom to expand or condense as your project needs evolve, be reconfigured to meet new requirements and standards, be fully customized to meet your application’s needs and goals.

If you think a SoftWall modular cleanroom would be perfect for your application, get in touch with Angstrom Technology today. We have everything you need to set up a controlled cleanroom environment with SoftWalls. Give us a call or reach out online to get started.

Redesigning Your Aerospace Cleanroom

Redesigning Your Aerospace Cleanroom

A new project means new requirements, new equipment, and maybe even new staff and higher stakes. If you need to redesign your aerospace cleanroom to meet the needs of a new project, you want to make sure to make the necessary changes thoroughly and efficiently so you’ll be ready to start the next endeavor off on the right foot. Let’s go over what you need to know when redesigning your aerospace cleanroom.

Aerospace Cleanroom Redesign Process

Before you start tearing into your cleanroom redesign, it’s important to start the process on paper. This means you need to make a plan for how your new cleanroom will operate, and then lay out the steps to get there. To do this, you’ll start with your cleanroom classification to figure out what’s needed, adjust the space to fit your new requirements, and make sure your systems can support the changes.

Consult Your Cleanroom Classification

Looking at your cleanroom classification, see if your new project requires more control over the environment than it currently has. If your new project is more sensitive to risks of contamination, requires more space to fit larger equipment or products, or more control to protect the safety of your workers, a cleanroom redesign is necessary. 

When consulting your new cleanroom classification, specifically look at the areas of particle count, air changes, and ceiling coverage as it relates to your ISO class number. If you need to meet new classification requirements, these are the main areas you’ll need to address. Keep in mind that if your cleanroom is changing size or layout, your airflow pattern will need to be adjusted accordingly in order to make sure all of the air is being filtered and replaced efficiently in your redesigned cleanroom.

Plan Your Cleanroom Redesign Needs

Once you have a basic roadmap of the changes you need to make to your cleanroom, take a look at your current space. Do you have enough room for your new project materials, products, personnel, and equipment? Does the cleanroom need to be reconfigured for a more efficient layout, or do you need a new cleanroom entirely? These are great questions to answer in the planning stage of your cleanroom redesign, as you don’t want to get halfway through the process to realize your current setup isn’t working. 

When addressing your space requirements, remember that too much space could also be an issue. If your cleanroom is too large for your new project needs, you’ll still be using the same amount of energy to heat, filter, and light the space. Downsizing or condensing your cleanroom can help cut operational costs — impressing your investors — and reducing the space you’ll need to keep clean.

Upgrade Your Cleanroom Systems

To handle increased air changes or filtration demands, your systems may also need to change to reach new requirements. For example, if your cleanroom is increasing its air change rate, you may need to increase the percentage of ceiling coverage by adding more filter/fan units. If your new project will be more sensitive to temperature or humidity changes, you may need to upgrade to a more powerful HVAC system for greater environmental control. 

Keep in mind that, since all the systems within your cleanroom work together, a change to one system will likely mean an adjustment for another. For example, increasing your filter/fan units may take up space that your cleanroom lighting used to occupy, so you’ll need to look for a new lighting solution that works around your filtration system.

Cleanroom redesign is also a good time to check in on your equipment and systems for service and upgrades. Since the cleanroom won’t be in operation for a short time, it’s a good idea to get cleanroom maintenance tasks out of the way during this window.

Customizing Your Aerospace Cleanroom Redesign

Once your cleanroom redesign addresses the essential functions of your new cleanroom, you can begin to customize it with other items. These are the things specific to your new project that will make it a success, which could include:

  • Cleanroom furniture including workstations, tables, and storage solutions
  • Pass through chambers and gowning rooms
  • Extra systems like fire suppression or static control
  • Additional environmental monitoring controls 

Your cleanroom redesign should cover the basic needs of your new project, such as meeting your new cleanroom classification, but also allow you to meet the new demands with a more efficient layout, upgraded systems and additional features. A successful aerospace cleanroom redesign will plan out all the changes first, and implement them efficiently so you can adapt to the changes seamlessly and hit the ground running with your new project.

Need to resize or reconfigure your aerospace cleanroom? Angstrom Technology has you covered. Our professional cleanroom designers can help assess your needs and space requirements to find the ideal layout and air flow pattern for your application. We also can help upgrade your HVAC and filtration systems to match your new cleanroom redesign. Get in touch with us today to get started.

4 Signs Your Automotive Cleanroom Isn’t Working the Way It Should

4 Signs Your Automotive Cleanroom Isn’t Working the Way It Should

It’s always best to address any cleanroom problems as soon as possible — better yet, to prevent them with regular cleanroom maintenance. If your automotive cleanroom isn’t working how it should, you may notice some of these signs: 

#1 Your Cleanroom is Extra Loud

If you hear loud noises, rattling, whining, clanking or just a general noise that can’t be attributed to your normal operations, it could indicate that something isn’t working properly.  Your equipment and systems need regular service to make sure they are functioning efficiently and working toward a cleaner environment. If you aren’t servicing your equipment regularly and making updates when needed, your systems may actually be working against you. If you’re hearing loud noises, it may be time to check your cleanroom HVAC system requirements and upgrade your cleanroom systems.

#2 You See Dust Particles In the Air

If you’re seeing dust particles flying around your automotive cleanroom, this is a clear sign that something’s been missed in your filtration protocols. Depending on your automotive cleanroom’s specific classification requirements for particulate matter, the consequences of poor filtration could range from being disruptive to your operations to being detrimental for project efficiency or employee safety.

Particles in the air indicate that your filters may be old, full, or ineffective, your cleanroom’s airflow pattern isn’t controlling the air flow direction to make use of filters, or your cleanroom HVAC system may not be powerful enough to replace air effectively and uniformly. Excessive stray particles could also result from something in the cleanroom that is shedding particles — whether that’s equipment, cleanroom furniture, or even you. This is a good time to give your cleanroom filtration and garments a close inspection to find the culprit.

#3 You’re Concerned About Product Quality or Test Results 

If your cleanroom isn’t working the way it should, it will likely affect your product quality, productivity and efficiency, and testing results within the cleanroom. If your cleanroom problems make it difficult for you to keep up with your classification standards, you can’t guarantee quality in your operations. With unreliable testing, manufacturing, or packaging, your products could fail and discredit your business. In the automotive industry, product failure could have disastrous consequences.

To avoid this, you need to catch up with cleanroom maintenance tasks and make sure your cleanroom is operating at peak efficiency. You can test your cleanroom’s level of cleanliness using a particle counter. 

How to Test Your Cleanroom Using a Particle Counter:

  • Choose sample locations, based on your cleanroom’s size and layout
  • Determine size and number of particles to test for
  • Measure particle count at each sample location
  • Average the measurements between samples
  • Determine if the measurement reaches your allowed particle levels

#4 You Can’t Remember When You Changed the Cleanroom Filters

If you can’t remember the last time you completed regular cleanroom maintenance tasks like changing the pre-filters in your return air grilles, servicing the HVAC system, or conducting a thorough deep clean of your facility, there’s a good chance your automotive cleanroom isn’t working the way it should.

Protocols for cleanroom cleaning and maintenance are vital to an effective cleanroom — regardless of your classification. Dangers of skipping maintenance tasks. Here are a few common cleanroom maintenance tasks you should be performing regularly:

  • Cleanroom cleaning: daily, weekly, and monthly cleaning tasks
  • Replace pre-filters: 6 times per year
  • Replace HEPA filters: every 3 years, but checked regularly
  • Inspect and service HVAC system: twice a year
  • Inspect and service cleanroom equipment: 6 times a year

The better you stick to a regular cleanroom maintenance schedule, the clearer understanding you’ll have of your cleanroom’s unique maintenance needs. You may find that your pre-filters don’t get as dirty certain times during the year, or find new tasks you can group for a more efficient schedule. Having control over cleanroom maintenance also gives you better control of your operations, reduces the chance of developing cleanroom problems, and ensures you’re always meeting your cleanroom classification standards.

Having trouble with your cleanroom? Call the experts at Angstrom Technology. Our technicians will come to you, diagnose the problem, and help you fix it as soon as possible.

Medical Cleanroom Classifications Explained

Medical Cleanroom Classifications Explained

Medical cleanrooms require strict cleanroom conditions, and so usually fall within ISO 14644-1 Classes 5-8.  All medical cleanrooms must comply with their classification standards to ensure employee safety, guarantee product quality, and limit risk to the consumer or patient receiving products created, developed, or tested within a medical cleanroom. 

Let’s break down medical cleanroom classifications a bit further. We’ll take a look at how medical cleanroom classifications work, the differences in standards between medical cleanroom applications, and how classifications affect medical cleanroom design.

What Are Medical Cleanroom Classifications?

Cleanroom classifications regulate the medical cleanroom’s degree of cleanliness and are defined by the allowed amount of contamination by particle count and size, as well as the necessary air change rates depending on the cleanroom’s classification level. 

The International Standards Organization (ISO) developed the set of standards by which all cleanroom industries and applications must follow. Medical cleanrooms may also be governed by additional regulations by the International Standards Organization (ISO), US Pharmacopeia (USP), or other industry-specific standards.

ISO Classification Standards

ISO 14644-1 outlines the requirements for all cleanroom environments. To do this, the standards are grouped into Classes 1-9, where Class 9 is equivalent to room air and Class 1 represents the cleanest possible cleanroom environment. As the classification number falls, cleanrooms must comply with stricter standards to reach a cleaner, more controlled environment. The majority of medical cleanrooms fall within ISO Classes 5-8. 

ISO 14644-1 proscribes cleanliness standards for cleanrooms by describing allowed contamination levels in terms of air particle size and count, air change rates or airflow velocity, and percentage of ceiling coverage for filtration. 

Particle Count: Particle count refers to the number of particles of a certain size per cubic meter. Stricter ISO classes allow fewer particles, and also restrict the size of those particles. Cleanroom design should include a  special airflow pattern that makes use of filters in the most efficient and effective way possible to trap and remove particles, and replace the air in the room with air that is fresh and contaminant-free. 

Air Change Rate: The air change rate at which air is removed, filtered, and replaced. While less stringent environments may only require an air change rate of 5-40, cleanrooms with strict air quality standards may require hundreds of air changes per hour — at which point it’s expressed in terms of air velocity, because the clean air needs to be constantly filtered out and replaced.

Ceiling Coverage: Ceiling coverage refers to the percentage of ceiling coverage for HEPA filter/fan units, or FFUs. The more stringent your medical cleanroom classifications, the higher percentage of ceiling coverage required to filter air properly. Ceiling fan coverage is closely related to air change rate, as more FFUs will allow for more air changes to occur. 

Medical Cleanroom Classifications by Application 

Medical cleanrooms have some of the most stringent cleanroom classifications of any cleanroom type. Specific classifications and requirements change depending on the application of the cleanroom. Whether you’re working with biological, pharmacological, or mechanical elements, here is a breakdown of the medical cleanroom classifications for each application.

Medical Research Cleanrooms

Medical research laboratories require strict cleanroom conditions, and usually fall within ISO Class 5-7. The rigorousness of the standard is dictated by the risk level of contaminants to cleanroom operations and safety. For example, for research involving blood or stem cells, an ISO Class 5/Fed Std 209E Class 100 to ISO Class 7/Fed Std 209E Class 10,000 cleanroom environment is necessary, per ISO 14644 standards. Other medical laboratories are subject to ISO 15189, which also has regulations of control of the laboratory environment.

Pharmaceutical Cleanrooms

The minimum standard for pharmaceutical cleanrooms is generally ISO 5 (Federal Standard 209 Class 100), which requires 240-600 air changes per hour and 35-70 percent ceiling coverage to maintain an environment of 100,000 0.1μm particles per cubic meter.

Pharmaceutical cleanrooms are also governed by additional regulations by US Pharmacopeia, or USP Standards. Pharmaceutical compounding spaces follow USP Standards 797 for sterile non-hazardous compounds, or the stricter USP 800 for sterile hazardous compounds. 

Medical Device Cleanrooms

Most medical device manufacturing cleanrooms must comply with ISO 5-8 standards, but the different stages of medical device production, assembly, and packaging have different cleanliness requirements, and often fall under separate classifications. 

The stringency of requirements increases as device part sizes become smaller and more intricate, or the use of the device is more critical to health and survival. Specifically, medical devices cleanrooms that fall under more critical distinctions require a quality management system, as designated under the unique ISO 13485:2016 classification system. The quality management system is designed to follow the device through its lifecycle to determine quality and risk level and validate that it meets all necessary standards of quality and performance, and remains free of contamination.

Medical Cleanroom Design

Most medical cleanrooms have stringent cleanliness standards that require a high level of control in the cleanroom environment, with supporting systems to regulate temperature, humidity, pressure, static, air flow, and particulate matter.

HardWall cleanrooms are the most common type of cleanroom used in medical applications, as they offer a high level of control over environmental, can be highly customized to include all the special features each application requires, and can be designed to comply with the strictest medical cleanroom classifications. Medical cleanroom design also includes a powerful HVAC system as well as cleanroom lighting and furniture that fit seamlessly with the cleanroom layout and facilitate laminar airflow patterns. 

Medical cleanrooms have some of the most stringent requirements of any other industry. If you’re unsure if your cleanroom can reach its classification standards, reach out to Angstrom Technology. Our cleanroom experts can design, build, and install medical cleanrooms that meet all of your specifications and requirements.