Plastic Industry Cleanroom Design Tips: How to Choose Cleanroom Tables

Plastic Industry Cleanroom Design Tips: How to Choose Cleanroom Tables

When it comes to choosing the right cleanroom furniture for your plastics industry application, you have many options. Cleanroom tables come in a large selection of shapes, sizes, and materials, but not every table is a good fit for your cleanroom. Understanding the difference between common types of cleanroom tables could help you find the best option for your plastics industry cleanroom.

Cleanroom Tables, Workbenches, and Workstations

Cleanroom tables are just one type of surface you can use in your cleanroom. Other similar cleanroom furniture includes workbenches and workstations. What’s the difference? Tables, workbenches, and workstations are often used interchangeably, and the furniture itself could be used to serve a variety of purposes within your cleanroom design, but they do have small differences which could make one a better choice for you.

Workbenches are typically made to withstand a greater weight capacity. Built with sturdy, powder-coated steel frames, these surfaces are great for applications involving manual labor, such as in manufacturing and assembly.

Cleanroom tables are often used for lighter purposes, though not always. Cleanroom tables are versatile pieces of furniture, and can be used to hold equipment, serve as a desk, or a work space for conducting detailed tasks.

Workstations are typically for focused work, assembly of small parts, or as standing desks. They can also be used to support equipment like microscopes or vision systems for quality control. Workstations often have adjustable height options, so the user can decide what’s most comfortable for them.

Types of Cleanroom Tables

Cleanroom tables are made of sturdy materials that won’t shed particles or contribute to contamination of the controlled environment. The most common types of cleanroom tables are laminated, stainless steel and perforated.

Laminated Cleanroom Tables

Laminated cleanroom tables are coated with an epoxy resin or polypropylene to create a non porous, chemical-resistant surface that’s easy to clean and sterilize. These cleanroom tables are great for cleanrooms in ISO Class 5 or greater. Many laminate tables can be made conductive or electrostatic dissipative if the application demands anti-static properties.

Stainless Steel Cleanroom Tables

Stainless steel tables are a popular choice for cleanroom tables because they are easy to clean and sterilize, and are corrosion-resistant and non particle-shedding. These tables will work with any cleanroom classification standard, even the stringent requirements of ISO Class 3.

Perforated Cleanroom Tables

Perforated cleanroom tables are typically made of stainless steel, and offer all the same benefits, but have the added advantage of laser-cut holes across the table’s surface. This allows air to pass through the table without interrupting the cleanroom’s laminar flow or creating turbulence. Perforated cleanroom tables have powder-coated steel bases for great load bearing capacity.

Choosing the Right Cleanroom Table

To choose the best cleanroom tables for your application, you should also consider how you’ll use the furniture, and any other features that would make your work easier. These might include:

  • Size: Consider how you’ll use your cleanroom tables: for working on larger tasks, or small, focused work. Keep in mind that larger tables also take up more space in your cleanroom.
  • Height: Cleanroom tables with an adjustable height feature are ergonomic for employees and can be adaptable to a variety of uses.
  • Storage: Some cleanroom tables have built-in storage in the form of drawers or shelves.
  • Weight-Bearing Capacity: Consider what types of projects your cleanroom is involved in, or the weight of equipment cleanroom tables will be required to support.
  • Anti-Static: Some plastics industry cleanrooms require conductive laminate or electrostatic dissipative materials for cleanroom furniture.
  • Material: Your cleanroom classification will dictate which materials are acceptable within your cleanroom, but it should be a material that won’t corrode, shed particles, or be sensitive to chemicals used for cleaning.

Although there are many options to consider when choosing cleanroom tables, this gives you a great opportunity to find the ideal furniture for your application. If you’re still not sure which table will suit your needs best, talk to the cleanroom design experts at Angstrom Technology. With your industry requirements and cleanroom classification in mind, we can help guide you toward the best tables for your cleanroom design.

Aerospace Cleanroom Design Tips: Finding the Right Lighting

Aerospace Cleanroom Design Tips: Finding the Right Lighting

Lighting is a critical part of cleanroom design. This system allows employees to properly view what they’re working on, improves the efficiency of your cleanroom operations, and can even help identify contaminants to help keep your cleanroom clean. Which cleanroom lighting is best for your application? Let’s explore your options to help you decide.

How to Choose Cleanroom Lighting

You’ll want to choose cleanroom lighting that is as illuminating as it is simple to maintain and clean. Additionally, consider the way your lights are mounted and how they work with your overall cleanroom design to help you reach your cleanroom classification. The cleanroom lighting you choose must be highly efficient and contaminant-free. The fixtures and any mounting mechanisms must be able to be cleaned effectively and ensure no contaminants can enter the cleanroom.

LED Cleanroom Lighting

LED lighting is known to be more durable and longer-lasting, require less maintenance, and use less energy than incandescent lighting. Plus, LEDs are extremely bright, which is a useful quality for aerospace cleanrooms where a lot of illumination is needed.

Cleanroom Lighting: Useful Measurements to Know

When choosing cleanroom lighting, you’ll need to understand how lights differ by comparing their measurements. Here are a few useful measurements to know:

Watts: measures how much energy is required to power the light

Foot-candles: measure the distance light reaches, by square feet

Lux: measure the intensity of light produced, as interpreted by the human eye

Lumens: measure light output

Depending on the use of light in your cleanroom, you will use these measurements differently. For example, if work in your aerospace cleanroom is task oriented and needs light to focus on small parts, you’ll require brighter, more intense lighting that allows significant illumination of the work area without causing employees to strain their eyes. Conversely, work over a broader area that isn’t detail-focused will need to prioritize area coverage, but not necessarily intensity.

Mounting Cleanroom Lighting

How lighting is mounted is another important part of choosing the right fixtures for your cleanroom. When comparing lighting systems, consider how much space the lighting system will occupy on the ceiling, a factor that is especially important when ceiling space must also be shared with filtration and fan units.

The way your cleanroom lighting is mounted will also determine how you access it to perform service such as replacing bulbs, fixing wiring, or cleaning the fixtures. Lighting can be mounted so that it is accessible from inside the cleanroom, but keep in mind this means all servicing of lights will interfere with cleanroom processes. Lights can also be installed from above. The advantage of this is that accessing lights does not mean as much of an interruption for the room below, and keeps contaminants from entering from the lighting space. However, this option requires more space above the ceiling for access.

Types of Cleanroom Lighting

Each aerospace cleanroom will have specific lighting needs and varying amounts of available ceiling space. Because of this, there are many different types of cleanroom lights to choose from. Here are a few common types of cleanroom lighting:

Flat Panels 

Flat panels are mounted flush with the ceiling. They provide a lot of light and are easy to clean. Because of their wide panel design, this cleanroom lighting type requires more ceiling space compared to other options, which makes it less than ideal for cleanrooms with stringent filtration requirements.

Teardrop Lighting

More stringent cleanroom classifications prioritize ceiling space for fan units and filters. Lighting, therefore, is a secondary concern and must work around the filtration system. 

Teardrop lighting extends below the ceiling to allow for precious ceiling space to be used for filtration. The teardrop shape allows an uninterrupted flow of air around the lighting without creating turbulence. The disadvantage of teardrop lighting is that it takes up valuable headspace within the cleanroom environment.

LED Lighting Grid

Batten lighting, or lighting strips, are linear LED lighting which is integrated with the ceiling grid system. This allows adequate space for fan/filter units around filters. Wiring for the lights is also built into the grid system so it provides consistent light throughout space without taking up a lot of room on the ceiling.

Recessed Lighting 

Recessed lighting units sit in the ceiling on a gasket to create an airtight seal. While they leave plenty of headroom, recessed lighting requires extreme care when servicing to ensure no contaminants are trapped when light is accessed. In cleanrooms with extremely stringent requirements, recessed lights and filtration can be combined in singular units for ultimate space-saving capabilities.

Expert Cleanroom Design and Lighting Help

An expert cleanroom designer will make choosing cleanroom lighting easier. They can work with you and your specific application to determine which types of lighting and mounting options will best complement your design needs. An cleanroom expert can:

  • Help decide which lighting can be used to perform different tasks in your cleanroom — specific to your application and workers’ needs.
  • Help design lighting to fit around other features of your cleanroom design, including filtration and mounted equipment.
  • Allocate control panels where they are accessible and convenient for staff.
  • Choose energy-efficient lighting fixtures that will maximize productivity while minimizing operational costs.

Cleanroom lighting is an essential part of your cleanroom design and should work with all the other elements to make a high functioning cleanroom for your application. If you’re still unsure which lighting option is best for you, talk to a cleanroom design expert about your concerns and specific project requirements.

Need a little help designing your cleanroom? Call the experts at Angstrom Technology. From lighting to flooring, we can help you make the best choices for your budget and your application. 

Safe and Effective Cleanroom Cleaning Solutions for the Medical Industry

Safe and Effective Cleanroom Cleaning Solutions for the Medical Industry

Although your cleanroom design is meant to limit the introduction of contaminants into your cleanroom through high-performing HEPA and/or ULPA filters, cleanroom garments and gowning protocols, and airflow patterns, it still needs regular cleaning with proper solvents and methods to maintain its cleanroom classification.

What makes this process successful? The right tools. Working in sensitive environments like medical cleanrooms, it’s vital to use the right cleaning solutions — ones that are powerful enough to sterilize surfaces and kill microorganisms, but gentle enough to not introduce harsh chemicals or contaminants into the controlled environment.

Medical Cleanroom Cleaning vs. Disinfecting

When it comes to cleanroom cleaning, there are two levels of cleaning which translate to steps in the process: cleaning vs. disinfecting. Understanding the difference between them is crucial — particularly in medical cleanrooms, where high levels of cleanliness are necessary to maintain the cleanroom classification.

Cleaning refers to the removal of dirt, grime, or buildup. This stage uses a mild detergent or soap, followed by a rinse to loosen debris and remove surface particles. 

Disinfection serves the purpose of killing microorganisms that weren’t removed during cleaning. Disinfection is a crucial step in the cleanroom cleaning process, as it sterilizes surfaces to prepare them for work to resume.

Using cleaning agents with disinfectants in tandem will ensure an all-over clean for your controlled environment. Make sure the detergents and disinfectants you choose are compatible, so as to not inhibit active ingredients or cause an unfavorable reaction.

Medical Cleanroom Cleaning Solutions

Let’s break down how to choose detergents and disinfectants that are safe to use for your medical cleanroom.

Choosing a Detergent

Detergents used in medical cleanrooms must be effective at breaking down dirt, but not harmful to cause corrosion or particle shedding from surfaces. A simple mild soap with sterile water is often effective for loosening debris. Be sure to follow up with a rinse to remove all particles and prevent buildup.

Choosing a Disinfectant 

Disinfectants come in oxidizing and non oxidizing. Oxidizing disinfectants, such as hydrogen peroxide and peracetic acid, are designed to kill a wide variety of microorganisms and are powerful agents. However, they can be harmful to the user and have a greater chance of being reactive with other chemicals, so use oxidizing disinfectants with caution.

Non oxidizing disinfectants, which are typically alcohols or ammonium compounds, target specific antagonists and can be effective when used with a cleaning strategy aimed at the contaminants and microorganisms by which your application is threatened. 

You can also rotate the disinfectants you use to combat contaminants more effectively, but don’t combine a non oxidizing disinfectant with an oxidizing disinfectant. Be sure to research any combination of chemicals thoroughly, as some can cause reactions, toxic fumes, or substances that are not only dangerous for your cleanroom, but also hazardous to the user.

Medical Cleanroom Cleaning Protocols

When cleaning your medical cleanroom, you should have a clear protocol for what needs cleaning, what you’ll use to clean it, and in what order things will be cleaned. Clutter and loose debris should be gathered first, in a top-down approach, so that any dust or particles will move toward uncleaned areas and not risk contaminating what’s already been cleaned. Once loose dirt has been collected, apply your detergent or soap using a clean mop head. Follow up with a thorough rinse to remove any soap residue. 

With cleaning complete, you can then apply disinfectant to kill microorganisms not removed during cleaning. Some disinfectants require rinsing to remove residues, typically using sterile water or an isopropyl alcohol and water solution. Allow the proper drying time before rinsing to ensure the disinfectant has done its job.

Your cleanroom design should include adequate storage for all cleanroom cleaning supplies, detergents, and disinfectants. Ideally, cleaning products should be stored somewhere in the cleanroom so you won’t risk contamination by transporting things in and out of the space each time you need to clean. Storage should be secure and contaminant-free. Always dispose of used cleaning materials and waste responsibly.

Cleanroom Cleaning Tips:

  • Use different mop heads for different parts of the room, i.e. a different tool for the floor than you use on the ceiling and walls.
  • Follow a proper mopping pattern. A proper mopping protocol will ensure that all areas are properly cleaned and disinfected without missing “dirty” sections or drawing contaminants into previously cleaned parts of the surface.
  • Make sure to save mopping for last. Remove waste, clean surfaces, and organize equipment prior to mopping so you won’t track over a cleaned area. Mop from the farthest area from the door backwards so the entire room has been completed and you can safely exit without contaminating the cleaned space.

Are You Cleaning Your Cleanroom Often Enough?

If you’re wondering “how often should my cleanroom be cleaned?” — the answer is probably more often than you think. Every day there will be some level of cleaning required, with special attention paid to heavy use areas like floors and surfaces. Some tasks, like replacing filters and other routine maintenance can be performed at regular intervals throughout the year. Like any well-oiled machine, your cleanroom needs some work to keep it running smoothly and effectively. Paying attention to a regular cleaning schedule, using the right tools and solutions, will make your cleanroom that much more effective.

Cleaning your medical cleanroom will remove any contaminants before they can build up, preventing cross contamination and significantly reducing the risk of chemical interference. Regular cleaning also helps to make sure all systems run effectively, and extends the life of expensive filters. At its most basic function, cleaning resets the space for the next day’s work.

Have a list of cleanroom cleaning products but nowhere to put them? At Angstrom Technology, we design medical cleanrooms of all shapes and sizes, and can include all the sterile storage space you need for detergents, disinfectants, mops and more. Our cleanroom designs are comprehensive, and can reach any cleanroom classification requirements. If you need a cleanroom that works for you, give Angstrom Technology a call.

Waste Management in Medical Cleanrooms

Waste Management in Medical Cleanrooms

Particularly in medical research cleanrooms and pharmaceutical cleanrooms, proper waste management and disposal is important for keeping the environment safe for products and people. Medical cleanroom design should be informed by this system to ensure waste handling protocols are easy to follow and that adequate storage is available for a safe and sterile environment. 

A waste management system in medical cleanrooms covers three areas: waste handling protocols, personal protective equipment, and proper waste storage and disposal.


Medical Cleanroom Protocols for Handling Waste


To develop protocols for your medical cleanroom waste management system, look at the materials you work with and the waste your facility generates. This includes how you handle and dispose of used cleaning materials, protective equipment that cannot be sanitized, the specific materials you use to conduct your work, and the byproducts of your work: substances or used materials you can’t recycle or put in a landfill. Make sure your cleanroom follows best practices for handling waste, and develop a set of protocols employees understand and can easily follow.

Your waste management protocols will be facilitated by your medical cleanroom design, which should include places to safely store cleaning materials, the chemicals used in your work, and the waste generated by your cleanroom. The protocols and cleanroom design solutions work together to prevent waste from interfering with or contaminating your processes and keep your people and products safe.


What Counts as Medical Cleanroom Waste?


In order to understand the best ways to handle and dispose of medical cleanroom waste, we must first understand the different types of waste that can be generated in a cleanroom setting. Medical cleanroom hazardous waste materials may be considered toxic, corrosive, ignitable, infectious, biohazardous, or otherwise unsafe to be disposed of in normal ways.

Some waste generated from pharmaceutical cleanrooms is considered a controlled substance. In such situations, the disposal of pharmaceutical waste must take place in compliance with additional DEA regulations.


How Much Waste Does Your Medical Cleanroom Generate?


Depending on how much waste your facility generates, you may need to follow certain regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA divides waste generators into three main types: 

  • Very Small Quantity Generators (VSQGs) create less than 100 kg of hazardous waste per month
  • Small Quantity Generators (SQGs) create between 100 and 1,000 kg per month
  • Large Quantity Generators (LQGs) creates over 1,000 kg of hazardous waste

Employees should understand the difference between types of waste and be trained to follow protocols for handling, labeling, and disposing of waste responsibly. Whether your facility is a VSQG or a VLQG, your cleanroom design should include an adequate waste management system to keep your employees safe and your project protected. 


Personal Protective Equipment


To keep employees safe from the sensitive or hazardous products or waste they’re handling, they must be properly equipped. Personal protective equipment like gloves, garments, and masks, not only keeps harmful substances from reaching personnel, but it also works to prevent contamination by employees. Depending on the application and the threat of contamination or harm to the employee, different types of garments and PPE may be required. Additional items could include: pants, coveralls, goggles, boots, ventilated hoods, hairnets, and more.

While some of these supplies can be sanitized and reused, others, like nitrile gloves, for example, must be disposed of after each use to prevent any kind of contamination. Your cleanroom design will likely need to include a gowning room to provide space for employees to properly equip themselves and limit the entrance of contaminants to the cleanroom, storage for garments and PPE, a sanitation area for employees to wash their hands before entering and after leaving the cleanroom, and storage for used equipment needing to be sanitized or destroyed.


Medical Cleanroom Design: Waste Storage and Disposal 


Containers used to store waste for disposal can be reusable but must be antimicrobial, corrosion-resistant, and able to be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized on a regular schedule. Particularly for highly sensitive materials, a puncture-resistant and leak-proof container may be necessary. All waste must be properly separated, bagged, and labeled prior to disposal.

In some cases, medical waste cannot be immediately discarded. Some types of waste must be stored until they can be transported to a facility where they will be recycled, deposited in a landfill or incinerated, or treated until they’re safe to throw away. Proper waste storage is an important part of medical cleanroom design. It needs to be safely contained where it can’t contaminate your work or risk employee safety. The waste receptacles themselves need to be non-particle shedding, corrosion-resistant, and can’t be placed where they could interrupt your cleanroom’s airflow and reduce the effectiveness of air changes and filters. 

Keeping a clean environment in all areas of the cleanroom is important, and that includes how and where you store and dispose of used medical cleanroom supplies and waste. Angstrom Technology’s cleanroom design experts can help build sterile waste management into your cleanroom’s design. We can add you to our regular maintenance schedule to make sure your facility is operating safely and protecting your products and staff. To learn more, give us a call or reach out online.

Medical Cleanroom Garment Storage: How to Keep Cleanroom Garments Clean

Medical Cleanroom Garment Storage: How to Keep Cleanroom Garments Clean

Cleanroom garments are as clean as the places where they are kept. They play a vital role in protecting your cleanroom and employees, so it’s essential to take care of them properly. Let’s dive into the importance of keeping cleanroom garments clean, the difference between reusable and disposable garments, and the cleanroom garment storage you’ll need to always have sterile and fresh items on hand.

Medical Cleanroom Garments

Cleanroom garments are an essential part of medical cleanroom operations. Garments are meant to prevent particles from the wearer from shedding and contaminating the cleanroom. In many medical cleanroom applications, they also protect the wearer from contaminants or harmful substances.

Wearing garments outside of the sterile environment of a cleanroom can attract contaminants. The inside of the garment is also contaminated by particles from the wearer. It’s important to use clean garments each time a worker enters the cleanroom environment to protect sensitive products and processes within the controlled space from these particles. 

Properly cleaning protocols and cleanroom garment storage — whether for reusable garments or new disposable ones —  are important to protect workers and the cleanroom from possible contamination. If garments are contaminated, both the integrity of your work and the safety of your employees are at risk. Particularly in medical cleanrooms, there’s no room for error. Contamination could interfere with test results, corrupt substances, compounds or devices, and potentially endanger patients’ lives.

Reusable vs. Disposable Cleanroom Garments

Reusable cleanroom garments can be cleaned in-house or by a third-party cleaning service. Disposable garments are typically meant to be worn once, though it depends on the product and the manufacturer’s recommendations.


Reusable Cleanroom Garments

Reusable garments must be washed with a special process (and extremely hot water) to remove particles and sanitize them safely without compromising or degrading the protective material. If cleaned by a third party, you’ll also need to ensure transport to your facility is sterile and that no contaminants are introduced to your cleanroom from an outside source.

Disposable Cleanroom Garments

Some medical cleanrooms with critical sterilization protocols and stringent requirements opt for disposable garments because it is the safest and most cost-effective option. Disposable garments should be high quality so they are comfortable for workers and won’t break down when in use. Be sure to buy quantities and sizes that are appropriate for all personnel.

Many medical cleanrooms use a combination of both reusable and disposable garments. For example, gowns and face shields may be cleaned, sanitized, and reworn, but disposable nitrile gloves and boot covers are replaced after each use. All garments, whether reusable or disposable, must be kept in appropriate cleanroom garment storage.


Medical Cleanroom Garment Storage

Adequate cleanroom garment storage is just as important as how the garments are used. Cleanroom garments are stored in the gowning room for immediate use, though your facility may also have an area to keep overstock items. 

In the gowning room, cleanroom garment storage takes the form of specialized cabinetry, shelves, and containers arranged in a way that facilitates the gowning procedure. 

A proper gowning procedure will ensure your employees suit up properly without contaminating their garments. This process involves cleaning exposed skin before donning garments in the correct order to contain any particles and not contaminate other items or parts of the garment.

Medical cleanroom cabinets and shelves are used to display all garments for easy access as well as store them before use. Garments for use in critical applications may need to be housed in their own HEPA-filtered cabinets or showered with air to dislodge any particles that may have adhered to the material. 

Cleanroom garment storage may also need anti-static safeguards in place to prevent the attraction of particles due to imbalanced charges. All new garment items must be sealed and packaged individually to prevent contamination. 

The purpose of cleanroom garment storage is to make all items accessible to employees while staying isolated from contaminating particles as much as possible. The use of sticky mats, air showers, and benches can help limit contamination, along with the enforcement of the proper gowning procedure. 

All used garments must be placed in separate cleanroom garment storage to ensure no contamination reaches the fresh, untouched garments. Until they can be cleaned and returned to the gowning room or disposed of responsibly, there should be no contact with the areas used for clean garments.

Cleanroom garment storage is essential to protecting your operations and workers. Does your cleanroom have appropriate garment storage space? If not, give us a call. We’re happy to help design and install the solutions that will make your cleanroom cleaner.