Cleanroom Terminology: Airlocks

Cleanroom Terminology: Airlocks

When first starting the cleanroom design process, a lot of people are confused or intimidated by the new vocabulary, which can be complicated. Suddenly you have to understand classifications and all sorts of design features and figure out which of these are right for your application. Here’s a breakdown of one of the common terms you’ll hear in cleanroom design: airlocks.

What are airlocks?

An airlock is a system of two doors that are electronically interlocked so that both cannot be open at the same time. This can prevent contamination and prevent particles from outside the cleanroom from entering the cleanroom when personnel enter or exit the cleanroom. An airlock system will also help maintain the controlled temperature of a cleanroom space. Airlocks can also be used as security features to prevent unauthorized access to a space.

What kinds of airlocks are there?

There are 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 some kind of 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 choose to have a supervised airlock, where personnel must press a request to access button and that 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. 

Other considerations

Depending on the classification and application of your cleanroom, you might want additional security features in place on your airlock. Some of these include breach alarms, which alert you to when the airlock has been breached and contamination may have occurred, alarms for when a door has been open for too long, and door status indicators. These features can ensure that airlocks serve their purpose and limit outside contamination entering the controlled environment.

 

If your cleanroom requires an airlock, Angstrom Technology can design a cleanroom that will fit the bill. Talk to one of our design engineers today.

Hidden Cost Benefits To Modular Construction

Hidden Cost Benefits To Modular Construction

Modular construction isn’t just the latest trend in construction because it’s efficient—although it is, and that is a major benefit—it’s also on the rise because some of the amazing financial benefits that come from modular construction, some of which you might not realize when first weighing the option. Here are some of the hidden cost benefits to modular construction that could make all the difference in your cleanroom or office suite addition.  

Lower overall cost

This isn’t hidden, necessarily, but it’s worth stating, again and again: Modular cleanrooms, when compared to conventionally constructed cleanrooms with the same features, are going to cost less. The savings you’re going to see from modular construction, in terms of the construction and installation cost, the cost of special features, the time it takes to build, and the maintenance costs are going to put conventional construction out of the running.

Depreciation

Modular construction depreciates at a faster rate than conventional construction—in fact, up to five times faster. While that much not be a positive if you’re purchasing a modular home to live in, it is a positive if you’re a business building a cleanroom, offices, or other additions to your facilities. Why? Tax advantages. With current tax codes in place, the initial cost of a conventionally constructed cleanroom or office suite or other space would have to be over 30 percent less than the initial cost of the same space using modular construction to match the tax advantages of the modular structure.

Reuse

Traditionally constructed structures are meant to be permanent. You can’t easily disassemble them and reuse the components in a new location or in a new configuration. Additions, renovations, updates, and modifications to conventionally constructed spaces are costs hidden in the future. With modular construction, the components of your modular cleanroom (or any other kind of modular structure) can be disassembled when no longer needed, easily modified to accommodate changes in your process and needs, easily added onto, or even disassembled, moved to a new location, and reassembled. Can you do that with a conventionally constructed cleanroom? No way.

 

If you’re interested in how a modular cleanroom or inplant building can save money in the long and short run, give Angstrom Technology a call and speak with one of our expert design engineers.

Cleanroom Terminology: Pass-Through Chambers

Cleanroom Terminology: Pass-Through Chambers

When designing a new cleanroom or planning an upgrade of an existing cleanroom, it can be easy to get bogged down in the terminology. One such piece of terminology is pass-through chamber. Here we explain what a pass-through chamber is and its important features and benefits for cleanroom design.

What is a pass-through chamber?

A cleanroom pass-through chamber has a seemingly self-evident name: it’s a chamber through which you can pass materials. More specifically, it is a chamber that allows you to pass materials into and out of your cleanroom without your employees having to exit and enter the cleanroom and gown. Pass-throughs allow materials to enter the cleanroom while reducing the contamination entering the cleanroom. 

Pass-through chambers come in many different sizes and can incorporate many different materials, depending on the needs of your cleanroom. Heavy duty sealing locks prevent contamination from passing through the pass-through chamber when it isn’t being used, and double door designs can prevent cross-contamination issues. There are also stainless steel corrosion-resistant designs, fire safe designs, and chemical resistant chamber designs, along with designs that can incorporate HEPA-filtered air blowers. 

What are the benefits of pass-through chambers?

Pass-through chambers, since they allow materials to enter and leave the cleanroom without requiring employees to gown up and enter and exit the cleanroom, have obvious benefits for maintaining a high level of contamination control in the cleanroom environment. Additionally, pass-through chambers increase productivity because they allow employees to work more efficiently—no need to go through the time-consuming gowning and air-showering process every time an item is needed in the cleanroom. 

A pass-through chamber also reduces the number of employees who need to be in the cleanroom environment, cutting down on the potential for contaminants entering the controlled environment. It also means that you’ll need less costly gowns and other PPE on hand. 

What kinds of cleanrooms need pass-through chambers?

Any cleanroom that requires the transfer of materials into and out of the cleanroom on a regular or frequent basis could benefit from a pass-through chamber in their cleanroom design. Pass-through chambers are a feature that can be easily integrated into a new cleanroom design or installed into an existing cleanroom. Research facilities dealing with new and volatile substances, medical cleanrooms dealing with dangerous and contagious substances, pharmaceutical cleanrooms requiring a high level of sterility, and electronic and technology cleanrooms often incorporate pass-throughs in their cleanroom designs to manage contamination and keep productivity high. 

Whether you need pass thru chambers, air showers, or any other specialized cleanroom features, Angstrom Technology can design a cleanroom that incorporates those features.

Sustainable Design for Cleanrooms

Sustainable Design for Cleanrooms

Sustainability is more important than ever, especially when it comes to cleanrooms, which require a lot of energy. If you’re looking to design a cleanroom, sustainability should be one of your top priorities. The most obvious reason is that we all share a responsibility to use our limited resources efficiently and sparingly, but in addition to that, using sustainable practices can save you money on your energy costs and can be important to your customers and shareholders. Here are a few things to consider when designing a cleanroom with sustainability in mind.

Water Use

Pretty much every cleanroom is going to use water, so conserving water is a necessary factor in sustainable cleanroom practices. This means determining how water is used in your cleanroom, and how much is used, as well as reducing, recycling, and reusing water if possible. Some ways to reduce water use are through low-flow sinks and low flush toilets. Some cleanrooms and labs even incorporate systems that collect rainwater or reuse and filter gray water from sinks, which can definitely save water and save money on your water bill.

Fume Hoods

Fume hoods use a lot of energy, so automatic fume hood options are essential to saving energy. Select fume hoods with automatic shut-off or smart controls that ensure the sash is closed when the fume hood isn’t being used. Ductless fume hoods are also a more sustainable and energy efficient option and reduce the pull on your HVAC system.

HVAC Systems

One way to make your HVAC system more sustainable is to simply have one that is the right size. Sometimes, companies install HVAC systems that are bigger than needed in case of extreme or emergency situations or heavy overloads. But these extreme situations happen rarely, if ever. So, if your system is more powerful than your application requires, you’re spending extra money for all that extra power and energy that you’re using that you don’t really need.

Chilled Beams

If you really want to incorporate sustainable practices, consider using chilled beams instead of a forced air heating and cooling system. Though their initial cost is higher than traditional systems, the energy (and cost) savings, in the long run, can be immense. Rather than requiring reheat or fan energy to cool the air, they rely on a simple scientific principle: warm air rises. So, when warm air rises, it hits the chilled beams, is cooled and circulates back down to the floor.

 

Looking to design a cleanroom sustainably? Contact Angstrom Technology to speak with a cleanroom design engineer about your project.

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How To Know If You’re Working With A Bad Cleanroom Design Company

How To Know If You’re Working With A Bad Cleanroom Design Company

Your cleanroom is integral to the success of your business. That’s why it’s so important that you hire a cleanroom design company who can do the job, and do it well. But there are bad cleanroom design companies out there who are happy to take your money and run you through the wringer to get the cleanroom you need. Here’s how to tell if you’re working with a bad cleanroom design company, so you can find a new designer and get your project on the right track before it’s too late.

Long lead times

If you need a cleanroom, you likely need it right now. Your cleanroom is essential to your productivity, so you shouldn’t be waiting around for months and months while waiting for your lab design to be completed. A good cleanroom design company is one that can meet your needs in a reasonable timeframe and guarantee you a relatively short lead time.

If you thought you’d contacted a cleanroom designer who could deliver in your timeframe, but now issues are popping up and the process is getting longer and longer, it might be time to find someone new to design your cleanroom. And if an initial estimate puts your lead time at longer than you think it should be, don’t hesitate to look for a designer who can give you the turnaround your company needs.

Ignoring your spec

If your designer can’t meet your specifications for your cleanroom in their designs, they’re not doing their job. When it comes to cleanrooms, you need specific design features, equipment, and layouts to meet the stringent cleanroom standards required by your industry and application. If your cleanroom design company isn’t meeting your cleanroom needs with their designs, you need to find a designer who will, plain and simple.

Lack of flexibility

This kind of plays off of the previous point, but if your designer can’t be flexible when designing your cleanroom to make it what you need, you should dump them. Your cleanroom’s location, application, classification, and traffic levels are unique, and you might need customization, a non-standard number of drawers in your casework or specific lighting modules. If your designer can’t work with customization, they can’t work effectively with you.

No quote

This is true of any contractor you’re hiring to perform any service for you, but if your cleanroom design company won’t give you a quote upfront, they aren’t a good designer to work with. While you might not get an exact price until later in the project, you should be able to get an estimate from your cleanroom designer. If not, they could gouge you at the end of the design project.

Poor communication

Like not getting a quote, poor communication is deadly to any design project. If you have questions or need information about your project, your design company should be in touch with you in a reasonable about of time. If you haven’t heard from your cleanroom designer in weeks when they should have reached out to you, you should start looking for a new design team.

 

Is it time to break up with your current cleanroom design company? Give Angstrom Technology the chance to prove why we’re the experts in premier cleanroom design.

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