What Not to Wear: Cleanroom Edition

What Not to Wear: Cleanroom Edition

Obviously, your cleanroom’s construction and air filtration system are critical factors in keeping your cleanroom contamination-free, but so is what people wear in the cleanroom. People and fabrics are major sources of contaminants, and it’s crucial your control those sources with proper attire. Here’s what (and what not) to wear in a cleanroom:

Do’s:

  • Hoods
  • Hair Covers
  • Coveralls
  • Intersuits
  • Boots or shoe covers
  • Facial Covers
  • Gloves
  • Frocks

Depending on the classification of your cleanroom, there may be different requirements for the garments you have to wear. For instance, an ISO 3 Class (Fed Std. Class 1) cleanroom will likely require all of the garments listed in the “do’s” above, and will likely require that those garments be changed for new or cleaned ones every time you enter the cleanroom, whereas an ISO Class 5 cleanroom will require most of those garments, to be changed every day, and an ISO Class 8 cleanroom will require only some of those garments and that they be changed every two weeks.

Don’ts:

  • Makeup
  • Long hair (uncovered or not pulled back)
  • Fibrous sweaters or materials that shed
  • Materials that cause static
  • Dirty clothes or shoes
  • Extremely loose or baggy clothing
  • Shorts, tank tops, or other clothing that has cutouts or exposes skin

The “don’ts” here are don’ts because these items can bring contamination into the cleanroom. Dirty clothes and shoes are the most obvious of these contaminators, but a lot of contamination can come from the skin and hair cells we lose every day without us even knowing. Makeup can also shed from the skin and cause contamination, as can the fibers from clothing.

If you’re updating your current cleanroom, or starting from scratch, call the experts at Angstrom Technology.

Best Practices for Working in a Cleanroom

Best Practices for Working in a Cleanroom

Whether you’ve been working in cleanroom environments for 20 years or it’s your first day on the job, a reminder of the basic best practices for working in a cleanroom can always be of use. Here are some things to keep in mind and implement when working in controlled environments:

  1. Follow written procedures

Written laboratory procedures exist for a reason: your safety, product safety, process integrity, cleanroom integrity, customer specifications, and legal compliance, to name a few of the major reasons. Going off script could cause major harm at worst, and at best, save you a few minutes time—hardly a worthwhile trade-off.

  1. Wear proper PPE

Again, this is about safety. Many cleanroom applications deal with hazardous or toxic chemicals and materials, and so wearing the required personal protective equipment, whether it’s gloves, goggles, or just safety glasses, is a must.

  1. Wear proper attire

If your cleanroom has a dress code or a specific gowning procedure, following it is crucial to minimizing contamination from outside as well as from your self, clothes, fibers, skin particles, etc.

  1. Don’t leave doors open

This one is obvious, but worth repeating: open doors let contamination in.

  1. Don’t leave hazardous materials out

Leaving hazardous materials unattended and out when not in use can lead to chemical spills and other accidents that are dangerous to personnel and compromise the cleanroom environment.

  1. Use a fume hood

When working with hazardous chemicals, using a fume hood is critical to keeping vapors and particles out of the air, protecting you and the cleanroom environment.

  1. Report issues immediately

From injuries and accidents to broken equipment, reporting any issues immediately is necessary for resolving them quickly and preventing bigger problems down the line.

Is it time to upgrade your cleanroom? Give Angstrom Technology a call.

Why You Need a Cleanroom, Not Just a Lab

Why You Need a Cleanroom, Not Just a Lab

When you’re in manufacturing, whether you’re dealing with pharmaceuticals, food, or even industrial products, quality is always a critical concern. When quality control matters, you have to test products, and most of that testing likely occurs in a lab. Some products will even need to be manufactured in a laboratory setting. But is your lab the right environment to ensure quality in your manufacturing processes? If it’s just a lab in name only, and not a true cleanroom, it might not be.

What’s the difference between a lab and a cleanroom?

A laboratory is a space dedicated to scientific research, experiments, and testing, as well as the manufacture of certain types of products. There is nothing in this definition that requires the laboratory environment to be controlled in any way. While a pharmaceutical manufacturer might have a highly controlled laboratory environment, a local high school might also have a lab, wherein students conduct experiments under no environmental controls.

A cleanroom is a controlled environment, specifically one that controls the level of contamination from particles, along with other factors such as temperature, humidity, static, etc. Controlling all of these variables protects your processes and products from contamination or conditions that could compromise the integrity of those products and processes.

Cleanrooms are required to meet specific standards as to the number of particles acceptable within the space, and to meet that standard, the cleanroom is regularly tested. Equipment and systems are put in place to maintain the cleanroom environment, including air filter systems and air flow systems, as well as procedures for entering and using the space, from special chambers called air showers that blow contaminants off of personnel before they enter the cleanroom to requiring lab coats or gowns for personnel working in the cleanroom.

Why do you need a cleanroom instead of just a lab?

If you’re not controlling your lab environment, there’s really no point in having one. It’s not going to ensure product quality, integrity, and safety—and those things are all necessary for a sound manufacturing process. For certain industries, like semiconductor manufacturing, pharmaceutical manufacturing, and aerospace and defense manufacturing (just to name a few of the many industries that use cleanrooms) cleanrooms are either required by law or are enforced as an industry standard. For example, automotive manufacturing cleanrooms are generally required to meet ISO Class 7 or 8 standards in order to meet the supplier requirements of the OEMs they work with and to ensure the quality of their products.

Is it time to upgrade your lab to a cleanroom? Get in touch with the cleanroom experts at Angstrom Technology.

 

Press Release: Angstrom’s New Facility

Press Release: Angstrom’s New Facility

Angstrom Technology is pleased to announce that our new facility has finally been completed. The building is located at 3509 3 Mile Road in Grand Rapids, alongside DK Engineered Construction. The new facility is 20,000 square feet and houses our cleanroom, modular office design and build firm, as well as our corporate office. We look forward to settling in to our recently completed and freshly landscaped new home!

Our employees are Angstrom Technology’s greatest attribute, and the quality of our people and their work is unsurpassed in the industry. That’s just one of the reasons we’re so proud to have built a new facility giving our valuable employees a place to call home!

Angstrom Technologies main office is located here in West Michigan, with satellite sales offices in Ohio, Pennsylvania and California.

As an industry leader in cleanroom production, Angstrom Technology’s mission is to be a top resource for cleanroom consulting, design, installation, equipment, and repair. With extensive knowledge of cleanrooms and the industries they serve, Angstrom ensures that our clients get exactly the cleanroom they need for their project.

Come visit us at our new facility and see just what we do, and how our modular cleanroom solutions can work for you. Call or contact us online to get a quote or set up an initial consultation, at our place or yours!

Most Common Cleanroom Design Problems

Most Common Cleanroom Design Problems

Cleanrooms present a lot of unique challenges in terms of design because they have very specific requirements they have to meet. If you’re meeting your desired ISO standard, you might feel like your design is good enough, but the truth is that there are a lot of common issues that companies face when designing cleanrooms. Here are some of the most common cleanroom design problems we see:

Inefficient placement

One of the biggest issues with cleanroom design is inefficiency. If your design doesn’t support your processes, it’s going to cause problems. Consider the various tasks and processes that go on in your cleanroom. Is someone always getting in someone else’s way because of where there workstations or supplies are located? Are there too many processes sharing one sink, causing a bottleneck? Are there drawers or cabinets that you can’t fully open because they’re too close to a wall or door? All of those problems can cause major inefficiency and can be avoided with good design.

Maze-like walkways

The whole point of a maze is inefficiency, it takes a long time to get through a relatively short distance because you have to twist and turn and wind around obstacles. But your cleanroom shouldn’t be a labyrinth. If employees have to walk through narrow paths, wind around oddly placed workstations, or bump into each other constantly to get to the door, their workstations, the sink, or the fire extinguisher, you will have massive safety problems on your hands, not to mention a lot of wasted time and motion on the part of the cleanroom techs.

Poor ventilation

Good ventilation is necessary for any space to be comfortable, but it’s especially crucial in a cleanroom, where you’re trying to maintain a controlled environment with limited particles and contaminants. Additionally, in cleanrooms where hazardous materials are used, good ventilation is a necessary safety concern to ensure the well-being of workers.

Unable to maintain temperature

No one wants to work in a room that’s too hot and stuffy or freezing cold, so for the same of employees comfort and morale, a cleanroom that is a comfortable temperature matters. It’s vital too that your cleanroom can maintain its desired temperature to protect the products, materials, and chemicals stored in it, as they can be sensitive to temperature, and to prevent the growth of mold and bacteria that can compromise the cleanroom environment. This could be a problem with your HVAC, thermostat, or insulation, so be sure to select those things wisely and perform regular maintenance checks.

Good design is the first step to having a well-functioning cleanroom. If you recognize some of the issues we mentioned in your current cleanroom, it’s probably time for a redesign. There are a few things you can do in the meantime to work with the layout you have and increase efficiency, such as rearranging movable cleanroom furniture, moving processes that don’t require a controlled environment to a new area, or simply cleaning out any tools, materials, or storage that is no longer necessary.

Having issues with your cleanroom design? Call the experts at Angstrom Technology.