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 what is a cleanroom? What is a controlled environment? There is a difference, and that difference is crucial. When it comes to controlled environments vs. cleanrooms, here’s what you need to know:

Controlled Environments vs. Cleanrooms

What Is a Controlled Environment?

A controlled environment, or critical environment, is an area that must have specific parameters controlled. The parameters include 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.

Common Applications for Controlled Environments:

  • Life science laboratories
  • Engineering laboratories
  • Laser labs
  • High-energy physics facilities
  • Hospitals
  • Cannabis grow rooms
  • Clean manufacturing
  • Food processing rooms
  • Pharmacies
  • Quality labs

What Is a Cleanroom?

A cleanroom is a type of controlled environment with much more stringent requirements. Cleanrooms require temperature and pressure control, as well as separation from the outside environment and other operations. 

All the requirements of cleanrooms are regulated and must meet designated standards. Cleanrooms are classified by the maximum acceptable number of particles (by size) in the air per cubic meter, and must be regularly tested to ensure compliance with that standard (see more about cleanroom classifications here). Compared to standard controlled environments, cleanrooms may require more energy, air, and advanced technology to maintain the cleanroom conditions.

Common Applications for Cleanrooms:

  • Semiconductor manufacturing
  • Pharmaceutical manufacturing
  • Research and development 
  • Laser and optics 
  • Electronics manufacturing 
  • Medical device manufacturing 
  • Precision industrial manufacturing 
  • Aerospace 
  • Mask manufacturing
  • 3D printing 
  • Nutraceutical cleanroom
  • Food processing/bottling

Do I Need a Cleanroom or a Controlled Environment? 

The answer to this question depends on two factors: your application and your industry. If packaging medical devices, you’ll need an ISO class 7 compliant 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 you need to control the environment. 

You may even have different needs within your facility; you may need a controlled environment for sensitive materials that don’t need to meet cleanroom standards but also require an ISO class 8 cleanroom for quality control testing.

When building and designing a cleanroom, contractors consider various factors to determine the necessary construction materials and regulating equipment. To ensure the facility is accurately equipped and meets standards, the contractor will consider the following: 

  • Required ISO class FDA regulations
  • Types and placement of HEPA or ULPA filters
  • Environmental conditions 
  • HVAC requirements
  • Spatial specifications
  • Construction materials
  • Air showers
  • Pass-thru units
  • Fire protection
  • Light and air supply
  • Electrical and plumbing requirements
  • Equipment hookups and special equipment

Partner with Angstrom Technology for Expert Guidance

Understanding the difference between controlled environments and cleanrooms is pivotal in determining the appropriate solution for your specific requirements and industry standards. 

With over 30 years of industry experience, we offer unparalleled expertise and a comprehensive portfolio to meet your cleanroom needs. From conceptualization to installation and ongoing support, our commitment to excellence ensures a seamless journey toward achieving your cleanroom objectives. 

Contact the Angstrom team today for all your cleanroom needs!



Cleanroom Terminology: What Is an Airlock?

Cleanroom Terminology: What Is an Airlock?

When entering the world of cleanroom design, many people are overwhelmed by the new vocabulary, which can be quite complicated. Suddenly, you have to understand classifications and all sorts of design features and figure out which are right for your application. 

We’re here to break down one of the most common terms you’ll hear in cleanroom design – airlocks. So, what is an airlock, and how does an airlock work? Let’s get jump in.

What Is an Airlock?

An airlock is a system of two doors that are electronically interlocked so that both cannot be opened at the same time. This prevents contamination and prevents particles from outside the cleanroom from entering the cleanroom when personnel enter or exit the cleanroom. 

In addition to its role in contamination control, airlocks can serve as security features, controlling and monitoring access to the cleanroom. An airlock system will also help maintain the controlled temperature of a cleanroom space. They are vital components in various industries, adapting to specific cleanroom requirements while offering emergency features to ensure personnel safety.

How Does an Airlock Work?

An airlock creates a controlled, enclosed space with two interlocked doors. They make a controlled transitional space between an external environment and a cleanroom, with the primary goal of preventing contamination, maintaining cleanliness, and preserving the specified environmental conditions within the cleanroom.

Here’s how airlocks typically operate:

  • Two-Door System: An airlock consists of two doors, one leading to the outside environment and the other to the cleanroom. These doors are electronically interlocked, ensuring that both doors cannot be opened simultaneously.
  • Pressure Differential: The cleanroom typically operates at a higher pressure than the surrounding area. When personnel need to enter or exit the cleanroom, they first enter the airlock. The outer door is closed behind them, sealing off the outside environment.
  • Controlled Environment: Once inside the airlock, the system may initiate a series of processes to maintain the controlled environment. This can include adjusting temperature, humidity, and pressure levels to match the cleanroom’s specifications.
  • Personnel Procedures: Personnel inside the airlock may need to follow specific procedures, such as donning cleanroom attire, which includes specialized garments, headgear, and shoe covers. 
  • Interlocking Doors: After the necessary preparations and checks are completed inside the airlock, the inner door can be opened. This allows personnel to enter the cleanroom while ensuring that the outer door remains closed, maintaining the pressure and cleanliness of the cleanroom.
  • Security Features: Some airlocks include security features like access control systems to authenticate and authorize individuals. 

What Kinds of Airlocks Are There?

There are two types of airlocks: secure and non-secure airlocks. In a secure airlock system, all doors remain locked until a request to enter is granted. This generally occurs through a “request to enter device,” like a button or keypad. A non-secure airlock means that the doors remain unlocked until the first door is opened; then, the other doors lock.

You also have the option of making your airlocks supervised or unsupervised. For high-security areas, you may have a supervised airlock, where personnel must press a “request to access” button. The request must be approved via a CCTV or viewing panel verification system. 

An unsupervised cleanroom could control access through a biometric reader or keypad to gain access. Such systems are useful where only authorized personnel may enter the cleanroom environment.  

Enhancing Cleanroom and Airlock Security

Depending on the classification and application of your cleanroom, you might want additional security features in place on your airlock. These considerations aim to enhance security and monitoring within the airlock system to minimize the risk of contamination and maintain the pristine conditions of the cleanroom.

  • Breach Alarms: Depending on the sensitivity and cleanliness requirements of the cleanroom, it may be essential to implement breach alarms within the airlock system. These alarms serve as a critical safeguard, alerting personnel when the airlock has been breached. Breach alarms are triggered when unauthorized access or contamination may have occurred. 
  • Door Open Duration Alarms: Cleanrooms often require swift and controlled access, and extended open-door times can compromise the cleanliness and environmental conditions. Door open duration alarms provide a mechanism to ensure that doors are not left open for too long, thereby preventing prolonged exposure of the cleanroom to the outside environment.
  • Door Status Indicators: Door status indicators are visual or electronic displays that provide real-time information about the current state of the airlock doors. These indicators offer a quick and easy way for personnel to confirm whether the outer door is securely closed before opening the inner door. 

Cleanrooms to Fit All Your Needs From Angstrom Technology

If your cleanroom requires an airlock, Angstrom Technology is well-equipped to design a custom cleanroom that perfectly aligns with your specific needs. Our team of seasoned design engineers possesses the knowledge and expertise required to create a cleanroom solution tailored to your industry’s unique cleanliness standards and environmental demands.

Contact Angstrom Technology today, and let’s embark on the journey towards a tailored cleanroom solution that precisely fits your requirements, enhancing your controlled environment for optimal operations.


Quicker, Cleaner And Less Costly: The Benefits Of Modular Clean Rooms

Quicker, Cleaner And Less Costly: The Benefits Of Modular Clean Rooms


[Grand Rapids, MI] —The demand for life sciences facilities is holding strong across the U.S. and is still well above where it was prior to the pandemic. The rise of these facilities has created a demand for another type of space: modular clean rooms.

Clean rooms are controlled environments that filter out pollutants like dust, airborne microbes and aerosol particles. Market Research Future this year reported the clean room technology market is projected to grow from $4.9B in 2022 to $6.9B by 2030.

These spaces can be crucial to the success of life sciences facilities, and they need to be built quickly and efficiently by firms that understand their importance.

Angstrom Technology began designing and selling clean rooms in Michigan in 1989. Today, the company installs and distributes clean rooms to facilities around the globe. Owner and CEO Matt Isard said he believes the most effective way to quickly install clean rooms that are flexible and compliant with today’s rapidly changing life sciences companies is to embrace modular construction.

“Modular rooms give the customer the versatility to add, subtract and relocate as your needs change, with minimal disruption to your process,” Isard said. “Additionally, the overall cost of a modular structure is lower than that of a conventional building, and it cuts construction and installation time down significantly.”

Angstrom Technology has launched a life sciences division, ATLSD, focused on delivering modern systems, products and services for clean rooms and humidity-controlled dry rooms in the life sciences sector. Bisnow sat down with Isard and President Jennifer Biro to learn more about the benefits of modular clean rooms and the company’s plans for its new division.

Bisnow: What are some of the main benefits of choosing to use modular clean rooms?

Isard: The benefits can be broken down into five main categories: time, cleanliness, cost, tax deductions and versatility. Modular construction takes less time than other build processes, allowing a room to be up and running faster. They are also cleaner because there is less cutting, drilling and other work getting done on-site that can add dust and other contaminants to the air.

Additionally, all the design, engineering and manufacturing work for a modular clean room falls under one bill to keep expenses low. On top of those cost savings, a modular system is considered capital equipment and can be depreciated quicker — at around seven years — compared to traditional real estate that depreciates at 39 years.

Finally, as the life sciences sector changes and grows from contract development manufacturing organizations to cell, gene, mRNA and more, clients need the highest level of service, optionality, compliance expertise, quality and safety protocols. Modular construction allows for greater flexibility with minimal disruption to a facility’s workflow, ensuring schedule and costs are kept in line.

Our president, Jennifer Biro, has decades of experience with the most technical of projects. She is a real asset to head up this division.

Bisnow: Can you tell me more about Angstrom Technology and your level of experience with these projects?

Isard: Angstrom Technology brings 34 years of experience as a turnkey provider of clean rooms, dry rooms and cold rooms to every project. Our technical team serves a wide range of sectors, including life sciences, healthcare, medical device, automotive, aerospace/defense, microelectronics, injection molding, food and beverage, EV dry room, current good manufacturing process, cell and gene therapy, and veterinary science.

We execute successful and compliant projects for clients both nationally and globally. We have offices in Grand Rapids, Michigan; Irvine, California; and Conshohocken, Pennsylvania. We also have offices in the UK, including York, Lancaster, High Wycombe and Newcastle and serve clients throughout North America, South America, Europe, the Middle East and Singapore.

Bisnow: What changes have you noticed in customer expectations or priorities in the years since Angstrom was founded?

Isard: Customers in the clean room industry are increasingly seeking turnkey services from collaborative providers who can manage the entire project, from design to implementation to validation.

While many of our clients are well-versed in clean rooms, we make the entire process relatable by offering practical, solution-based approaches that align with stakeholders’ needs. We also recognize that different industries may require different technical approaches and need options in system choices, so we have in-house technical experts to specifically address compliance, ISO levels, GMP and cGMP, or current good manufacturing practices. They can also address cell and gene therapy, contract development and manufacturing organization, dry rooms and environmentally controlled rooms.

Bisnow: Could you tell us more about Angstrom’s life sciences division and how you are addressing this trend?

Isard: ATLSD is a specialized division that focuses on cutting-edge systems, products and services for clean rooms, dry rooms and all temperature or environmentally controlled rooms. Being able to offer clients a multitude of options for their project needs and requirements is a real differentiator for this division. We have the most choices at every price point and every necessity required. We believe that providing clients with striated solutions, estimates and schedules they can trust with the utmost integrity is something to be proud of.

We promote a collaborative client experience by tailoring solutions to individual client needs rather than being constrained by specific product offerings. We maintain objectivity by not producing our own panels, allowing for a truly cooperative and unbiased approach.

Biro: We offer a wide range of systems and products that are not tied to a single manufacturer. This approach allows for flexibility and customization to meet specific client needs.

To disrupt the industry and bring new innovation, I am heading up the Cleanroom Design Center of America. The CDCA is a cutting-edge facility dedicated to clean room, dry room and cold room technologies and products.

A 10K SF showroom will bring a unique experience missing in the current marketplace. It is supported by Angstrom Technology, Colliers and Budd Bioworks, Philadelphia, creating a strong network of expertise and resources.

Angstrom’s clients can have a tangible experience to understand which specific products and ancillary items can be used for their particular projects. The ability to pick and choose while observing the distinctions enables clients to confirm they are making informed decisions and offers flexibility without prejudice to ensure the best customer experience and product choices available.

Bisnow: What is Angstrom’s capability regarding global sourcing?

Isard: We are both a national and global company, with the capability to source materials and provide design-assist, installation, commissioning and validation services worldwide. This ensures that projects are executed safely, with high-quality standards and in full compliance with industry requirements.

This article was produced in collaboration between Angstrom Technology and Studio B.

Media Contact:
Maria Valgenti

Angstrom Technology Launches New Life Sciences Division, Elevating Expert Technical Services, Highest Level of Choices and Quality

Angstrom Technology Launches New Life Sciences Division, Elevating Expert Technical Services, Highest Level of Choices and Quality



[Philadelphia, PA] — Angstrom Technology, a trusted leader in providing expert technical services for
over 30 years, is proud to announce the launch of its new Life Sciences Division. This strategic move
comes as a response to the growing demand for high-quality services in the life sciences industry and is a
testament to Angstrom Technology’s commitment to exceeding client expectations.


Building upon three decades of successful and compliant projects, the Life Sciences Division is dedicated
to delivering the highest level of technical expertise, client satisfaction, transparency, and flexibility while
upholding the company’s core values of integrity and quality. Jennifer Biro, President, joins the
established team to lead the Life Sciences Division. Angstrom Technology recognizes the critical nature
of cleanrooms, dry rooms, and cold rooms in the life sciences and technical sectors and is poised to
provide turnkey solutions with the most optionality that set industry standards.


Key Highlights of Angstrom Technology’s Life Sciences Division:


Unmatched Expertise: With a team of experienced professionals, Angstrom Technology’s Life Sciences
Division brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to every project. Clients can rely on a team that
understands the unique challenges and requirements of the most technical of projects with schedule
and cost in mind. From initial concept and design to material choices, installation, commissioning, and
validation, Angstrom Technology offers a comprehensive suite of custom products and services.


Client-Centric Approach: Customer satisfaction is at the forefront of Angstrom Technology’s mission.
The Life Sciences Division is committed to working closely with clients to find solutions that meet their
specific needs, ensuring that every project is a success. By offering a multitude of system and product
choices, nothing is one size fits all.


Flexibility and Adaptability: In a rapidly evolving industry, flexibility is key. Angstrom Technology’s Life
Sciences Division is equipped to adapt to changing project requirements and industry regulations,
providing clients with peace of mind with compliance experts in-house, no matter the industry.


Integrity, Safety, and Quality: Angstrom Technology has built a reputation for uncompromising integrity
and exceptional quality in its services and execution. With an EMR of 0.80, skilled tradespeople go home
safely at the end of the day. The Life Sciences Division continues to uphold these values and strives to
extend these services to clients globally.


Karan Rai, Chairman of the Board at Angstrom, and Managing Partner at private equity firm ASGARD
Partners expressed excitement about the launch of the Life Sciences Division, saying, “Our customers
have made it clear that they want us to have a more pronounced and focused presence in the Life
Sciences markets and that is exactly what we are building. We are fully committed to supporting the
company with all investments and resources required to deliver the best design and build technical
expertise and customer service to our Life Sciences clients. We are going to be a major player in this
space and are building a world-class team which starts with bringing Jennifer Biro on board as President
to lead this new division.”


As Angstrom Technology’s Life Sciences Division takes its first steps, it does so with a strong foundation
of experience, dedication, and a clear vision for the future. For more information about Angstrom
Technology and its Life Sciences Division, please visit www.angstromlifesciences.com.


About Angstrom Technology
Angstrom Technology is a respected leader in providing expert technical services for cleanrooms, dry
rooms, and cold rooms. With over 30 years of experience, the company is known for its flexibility,
optionality, commitment to quality, integrity, and client satisfaction. Angstrom Technology’s Life Sciences
Division is dedicated to delivering the highest level of expertise and turnkey solutions for the life
sciences, healthcare, microelectronics, battery, medical device, and technical market sectors.


Media Contact:
Maria Valgenti