What are Semiconductor Cleanrooms?

What are Semiconductor Cleanrooms?

Semiconductors are used in every computerized device, from household objects like your mobile phone or coffeemaker, to complex machines like vehicles, defense technology, or spacecraft. Semiconductor cleanrooms are used in a wide variety of applications to produce semiconductors, manufacture microprocessor chips from semiconductors, and package semiconductor components and products. 

Let’s dive deeper into semiconductor cleanrooms including some common applications, cleanroom classifications, and cleanroom design features.

What are Semiconductor Cleanrooms?

Before we explore the many features of semiconductor cleanrooms, let’s back up and explore what semiconductors are.

What are Semiconductors?

Semiconductors are made using a glassy, solid material of pure silicon, which is shaped in a molten state and then cut into thin wafers. Semiconductors are prized for their special conductive behavior — which behaves both like a metal and insulator — and are a vital ingredient for manufacturing computer circuitry. 

Since the slightest inconsistency can compromise the production of semiconductors, all semiconductor cleanrooms must comply with strict standards to ensure complete sterility of the manufacturing environment.

Semiconductor Cleanroom Applications

Semiconductors are used in many industries, ranging from manufacturing of computers and devices to the development of military technology and equipment. Quality and purity in semiconductor production is crucial to ensuring success of whatever technology they will aid in powering and controlling — which is why extremely controlled semiconductor cleanrooms are essential.

Semiconductor Cleanroom Classifications

Semiconductor cleanrooms often run 24 hours a day due to the high demand for these valuable computer components. The cleanroom classification must be maintained consistently throughout the process — as any drop below strict standards could have disastrous consequences.

Semiconductor cleanrooms typically must comply with the ISO 14644-1 Class 5 or lower, which stipulates a minimum allowed particle count of 3,520 particles 0.5µm or smaller. They must also meet the requirements of ISO 14644-2 which imposes a quality control system in order to maintain strict classification standards.

Semiconductor cleanrooms likely also have industry-specific requirements depending on their unique application, such as ASTM standards or NASA standards for aerospace applications. These work with the ISO classification system to ensure that the environment is always controlled, and the products that come out of it are of a consistent and enduring quality.

Semiconductor Cleanroom Design

Semiconductor cleanrooms require a robust cleanroom design that helps them reach and maintain strict air quality standards, while allowing for easy movement and workflow. This starts with powerful cleanroom HVAC and filtration systems to condition and circulate the air to remove particles up to the allowed limits. Machines within the cleanroom may each have their own exhaust system which removes unclean air and particles. 

Staff working in semiconductor cleanrooms must also be specially outfitted to prevent any contamination. Some semiconductor cleanrooms may have robotic equipment or special safety protocols in place to protect workers from radioactive processes, toxic chemical exposure, lasers, and magnetic fields.

Semiconductor cleanrooms must be designed to control static, particulate matter, out-gassing, and other sources of contamination and compromising conditions to protect workers and consumers, and to ensure success of the project.

Think a semiconductor cleanroom is right for you? Angstrom Technology can help you design, build, and install the perfect cleanroom for you. Using static dissipative materials for flooring, wall panels, furniture, and more, you can trust that your work and employees will always be protected. Give Angstrom Technology a call for all of your cleanroom needs.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Medical Cleanroom Filtration

Frequently Asked Questions About Medical Cleanroom Filtration

The medical cleanroom filtration system is responsible for removing particles from the air thoroughly and consistently. From toxic substances to large particles that interfere with tests and research, restricting and controlling air quality through proper filtration is essential to protect both your work and your workers.   When it comes to designing and implementing an effective and efficient cleanroom filtration system, it can be complicated to know what your medical cleanroom needs to be successful — from what types of filters you’ll use to how to design the ideal filtration system for your application. Read on for the answers to these frequently asked questions and more.

What Are the Different Types of Cleanroom Filters?

There are three main types of filters employed in cleanroom filtration systems: HEPA filters, ULPA filters, and pre-filters.

  • HEPA Filters: High Efficiency Particulate Air filters remove particles 0.3µm or larger. They are the most commonly used filters in medical cleanrooms.
  • Pre-Filters: remove the largest particles from the air, extending the life of the more valuable HEPA and ULPA filters.
  • ULPA Filters: Ultra Low Particulate Air filters are even more powerful and expensive than HEPA filters, removing virtually all particles 0.12µm or larger.

Medical cleanrooms with highly sensitive processes may require more powerful cleanroom filtration in order to reach strict cleanroom classification standards. 

How Many Filters Does My Medical Cleanroom Need?

The number of filters your medical cleanroom needs will depend on your cleanroom classification. Each ISO Class defines the maximum allowed particles, air change velocity, and percentage of ceiling coverage dedicated to filter/fan units. The number of filters you need will be what allows you to easily reach your stringent standards during cleanroom operation.   In general, the “cleaner” your cleanroom has to be, the more filters you’ll need to achieve quality standards. However, filters alone won’t help you reach your classification requirements — the way you use them also matters.    Employing an efficient airflow pattern will help your filters clean the air more efficiently. It can also extend the lifespan of your expensive HEPA filters by reducing the strain on just a few filters by evening out the filtering power across your cleanroom.

How Often Do Cleanroom Filters Need to Be Replaced?

Your specific filter replacement schedule may vary across your cleanroom, as one location may be dirtier than another — but having a clear schedule is essential for maintaining your medical cleanroom. Filter replacement every 3-5 years is common, but critical applications may find they need to replace filters every 1-2 years to ensure safety and quality.   In addition to facility use, the type of filter in your cleanroom will affect the filter replacement schedule. Pre-filters, which form the frontline defense against particles in the cleanroom, need to be replaced much more frequently than the more expensive HEPA filters they protect. 

HEPA Filter Replacement

While HEPA filters can last up to 10-12 years depending on the volume and air quality of the room, pre-filters are typically replaced biannually and inspected at least quarterly. Although HEPA filters are longer-lasting, there are many reasons you might need to replace them sooner, including:

  • Evidence of filter plugging, such as a notable drop in pressure 
  • Leak-test failure 
  • Buildup of radiation
  • Damage from handling or installation 
  • Media rupture 
  • Filter-frame or seal failure

Although valuable HEPA filters are not cheap to replace, it’s more cost effective to replace them too early than to pay for the extra power usage or damage to the facility should a faulty or loaded filter be left unaddressed.

Are My Medical Cleanroom Filters Working Effectively? 

Your medical cleanroom filtration system should be inspected regularly — at least 4 times per year — to ensure it is effectively cleaning and changing the air in your cleanroom. Per ISO 14644-2, all cleanrooms must perform quality checks annually to check that the particle count allowances are met. If your medical cleanroom is ISO Class 5 or lower, these quality checks need to happen every 6 months.   To test your cleanroom classification yourself, you can use a handheld particle counting device to measure particle size and number at varying zones in your cleanroom, then average the totals. If your findings exceed the allowed maximum count, your cleanroom filtration system likely needs an upgrade.

How Do I Design an Efficient Cleanroom Filtration System?

In a medical cleanroom, your filtration system is one of the most important defenses against contamination. In some critical applications, this can be a life-saving system. When designing your cleanroom filtration system, you’ll need to incorporate it with an airflow pattern and your cleanroom HVAC, using the ceiling space efficiently to reach the percentage requirements of your cleanroom classification.    Cleanroom filtration is central to all cleanroom components and systems — from the type of medical cleanroom itself to the cleanroom furniture it contains, the employees who work in it and the cleanroom garments they wear. When properly designed, all cleanroom systems should work together to reach your cleanroom classification and create the best environment for you to complete your work.    If you need to design a cleanroom filtration system or update your cleanroom filters, Angstrom Technology can help. We design multi-stage HEPA filtration systems for medical cleanrooms and can help you assess and maintain your cleanroom filtration system to ensure your cleanroom is always meeting its classification standards. Give us a call or reach out online to learn more.

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What’s In an Aerospace Cleanroom?

What’s In an Aerospace Cleanroom?

Aerospace cleanrooms are vital for the development, manufacturing, and testing of aircraft and spacecraft, and the computer systems, sensors, and defense technology they incorporate.

Any inconsistency in the controlled environment, such as contaminating particles or fluctuations in humidity, could compromise a piece of equipment or product and lead to failure or injury — neither of which help the facility advance its goals. In order to meet the stringent requirements of their cleanroom classifications, aerospace cleanrooms require the seamless integration of multiple systems and components. 

What’s in an aerospace cleanroom? Let’s break it down.

What’s in an Aerospace Cleanroom?

Aerospace cleanrooms are more than just a space to conduct work, research, or testing. They are designed and built to use multiple systems and features to control the environment’s temperature, humidity, purity, pressure, and more. Let’s go through what aerospace cleanrooms need in terms of filtration, HVAC, wall materials, lighting, flooring, furniture and equipment.  

Aerospace Cleanroom Filtration

Aerospace cleanroom filtration is essential for reaching your aerospace cleanroom classification standards. Many aerospace cleanrooms fall into ISO 14644-1 Class 7 or lower, meaning they have defined maximum particle allowances during operation. Multi-stage HEPA filters work hard to help purify the air of contaminants, aided by pre-filters and a laminar airflow pattern. 

When designing your aerospace cleanroom, you’ll want to plan the ideal path for the air to flow to remove particles and clean the air thoroughly and consistently. Depending on your cleanroom classification, your hourly air change rate will rise with the demand for cleanliness.

Aerospace Cleanroom HVAC

A powerful aerospace cleanroom HVAC is responsible for supplying the space with treated air, purified by your filtration system. Aerospace cleanrooms, especially sensitive applications, require controlled temperature and humidity levels in order to prevent corruption of materials, fuels, or processes. 

Aerospace Cleanroom Walls

Aerospace cleanrooms are typically modular HardWall or RigidWall cleanrooms. While both options may reach your cleanroom classification, one may be better suited for your application. HardWall aerospace cleanrooms can reach any standard, even the most restrictive Class 1. They can also be customized to include any special features your cleanroom needs to succeed, and arrive pre-wired and pre-insulated for convenience.

RigidWall aerospace cleanrooms are best for ISO Classes 5-8. They feature crystal clear panels that make an attractive, minimalist frame — perfect for showing your work to executives or investors. An advantage of RigidWall cleanrooms is they are easy to reconfigure and expand as your project evolves.

Aerospace Cleanroom Flooring

When choosing cleanroom flooring for an aerospace cleanroom, it’s important to consider how you’re using the space. For example,  epoxy or urethane flooring is a low-cost option that can also be antistatic — essential if you’re working with fine electronics. 

Vinyl flooring is another economic choice, but it may wear out quickly if you move a lot of heavy equipment through the space. Epoxy and polyurethane floor systems are more durable in heavy traffic areas and resistant to corrosive chemicals and fuels.

Aerospace Cleanroom Lighting

Aerospace cleanroom lighting is another important system. Many options exist to give you the best visibility for your space and classification. Common aerospace cleanroom lighting systems include teardrop lighting, flat panels, LED grid lighting, and recessed lighting. 

If your cleanroom ceiling must prioritize filter/fan units, a smaller but powerful option such as LED grid lighting may be better for you. If you have space to spare, you can opt for the more economical flat panel lighting.

Aerospace Cleanroom Furniture

Cleanroom furniture for aerospace cleanrooms can provide your employees with a workstation, an ergonomic place to sit while they focus on detailed tasks, and anti-fatigue mats for long periods of standing work. The best cleanroom furniture will be adjustable, easy to clean, and made from non particle shedding materials.

Other Aerospace Cleanroom Design Features

Other cleanroom systems, industry-specific equipment, and cleanroom supplies may be necessary to help your aerospace cleanroom be successful. A few examples include a pressurization system, antistatic materials, and a fire suppression system:

  • Positive pressure in aerospace cleanrooms can be a useful way to supplement your filtration system by blocking contaminating particles. 
  • Antistatic cleanroom supplies and materials are essential if you deal with sensitive materials, flammable substances, or fine electronics. 
  • A fire suppression system can help limit damage if something does go wrong, and protects your employees from workplace hazards.

Is your aerospace cleanroom missing something? Talk to Angstrom Technology. We have everything you need to build and run a high-performing cleanroom environment. From modular panels to flooring, lighting, furniture and more, Angstrom Technology is fully equipped to make your cleanroom a success. Give us a call to learn more.

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Cleanroom Design Tips: Cleanroom Storage Solutions for Plastics Manufacturing

Cleanroom Design Tips: Cleanroom Storage Solutions for Plastics Manufacturing

Any time you can limit traffic in and out of the cleanroom itself, you’re also limiting the potential for contaminants to enter your controlled plastics industry cleanroom — which is what makes cleanroom storage such an important consideration in cleanroom design. Let’s take a look at some of the best cleanroom storage solutions you can use in your plastics manufacturing cleanrooms and how to choose the right cleanroom storage for your application and needs.

Best Cleanroom Storage Solutions for Plastics Manufacturing Cleanrooms

As a vital part of cleanroom design, cleanroom storage can be used to keep just about anything and everything you’ll need during cleanroom operation accessible and safe. This could include supplies, tools and equipment relevant to the work you do, but also can include cleaning materials and solutions. 

A few of the best ways to contain and conveniently store everything you need in your plastics industry cleanroom include cleanroom cabinets, shelves, and other cleanroom furniture with storage.

Cleanroom Cabinets

Cabinetry is a great way to keep materials and supplies out of sight and out of your way. They can be effectively built into your cleanroom under countertops or mounted to the ceiling to make use of vertical space.

Cleanroom cabinets can be made from a variety of materials including stainless steel, epoxy, acrylic, polyurethane, and laminate. The right material for you will depend on your cleanroom classification — particularly if the cleanroom storage needs to be resistant to the chemicals you use for cleaning or sterilization.

Cleanroom Shelves

Open wire shelving is a great option for plastics industry cleanrooms that don’t use corrosive agents in operation or for cleaning. Either chrome-plated wire or polymer shelving are both effective and strong materials that are about a third the cost of stainless steel. 

Another advantage of wire shelving is, if your cleanroom uses a vertical airflow pattern, it allows the air to move freely, limiting the potential collection of contaminants.

Cleanroom Furniture

Cleanroom tables with built-in storage as drawers or shelves can be another great option for organization in your cleanroom. When choosing cleanroom tables, consider the right size and height that will give your employees the most comfort, or opt for an adjustable-height table or workstation to allow for more flexibility.

Surfaces can also be used to store smaller cabinets or containers for supplies you use regularly, though must be thoroughly cleaned around and under to minimize any risk of contamination. 

How to Choose Cleanroom Storage

Cleanroom storage like cleanroom cabinets and shelves, as well as other cleanroom furniture used in a controlled environment must be compatible with cleanroom use and limit any collection of contaminants

When choosing cleanroom storage, consider your cleanroom’s airflow pattern to avoid obstructing your HVAC and filtration system. Your cleanroom storage should also be able to withstand the materials you use for cleaning without corroding or shedding particles. 

Also, consider the conditions of your work. If your cleanroom operations or staff are endangered by static electricity, avoid conductive materials unless you have a method to ground potential charges.

Interested in creative storage solutions for your cleanroom? Let Angstrom Technology help. Our professional cleanroom designers can help build storage into your cleanroom design in a way that is effective, safe, and contaminant-free. Reach out to us online or give us a call to get started.

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5 Advantages of Rigidwall Automotive Cleanroom

5 Advantages of Rigidwall Automotive Cleanroom

RigidWall cleanrooms make an excellent cleanroom option for many industries. Their sleek appearance, excellent control, and customizable features make them especially suited for automotive cleanrooms. Let’s take a look at 5 advantages RigidWall cleanrooms offer your application in the automotive industry.

#1 RigidWall Cleanrooms Have an Attractive, Minimalist Appearance

Compared to other types of cleanrooms, RigidWall cleanrooms may be one of the most attractive. Their clear, flat panels give your cleanroom a sleek, professional look. They look great, and they also serve another important function: Large, crystal-clear panels are perfect for monitoring activities in the cleanroom while minimizing traffic in and out of the controlled environment. They also make an attractive showcase of your work to investors, executives, and visitors.

#2 RigidWall Cleanrooms Offer Excellent Control of the Cleanroom Environment

RigidWall cleanrooms make an excellent choice for many types of automotive cleanroom applications. Their sleek panels provide flawless floor-to-ceiling protection from outside contaminants, and integration with powerful cleanroom systems helps establish a highly controlled environment you can rely on to maintain your cleanroom classifications. 

RigidWall cleanrooms are recommended for automotive cleanrooms with ISO Classes 5-8 standards, which means they can reach incredibly stringent requirements with ease, and be adjusted to conform to your automotive industry standards.

#3 RigidWall Cleanrooms Have Versatile Layout Options 

While not as lightweight or flexible as SoftWall cleanrooms, RigidWall cleanrooms are incredibly versatile and easy to expand, condense, or reconfigure — and even more flexible than HardWall cleanrooms. Because the panels are modular, they can be removed or added with ease, allowing you to grow your operations seamlessly, or reuse the panels for other purposes in your facility. 

If your automotive cleanroom needs space to evolve, RigidWall cleanrooms can offer custom layout options while maintaining strict cleanliness standards. Talk to a cleanroom designer about building a cleanroom that suits your needs now, and in the future.

#4 RigidWall Cleanrooms are Highly Customizable

Building a modular cleanroom doesn’t mean your cleanroom looks like everyone else’s. RigidWall cleanrooms are built to your exact specifications — your cleanroom classification, your industry standards, and your custom requests. Constructing a modular RigidWall cleanroom gives you the freedom to customize your automotive cleanroom as you see fit. 

As part of your cleanroom design, the RigidWall cleanroom is already built to integrate seamlessly with your cleanroom systems and trades like a powerful cleanroom HVAC, multi-stage filtration, and more. From there, you can add special features to your cleanroom design that will ensure success for your automotive cleanroom application, like flow-through lighting modules, security panels, intercom systems, and safety features such as fire suppression and electro-static discharge materials. 

#5 RigidWall Cleanrooms are Easy to Install

RigidWall modular cleanroom panels are prefabricated with the wiring, insulation, and all the customizations your facility needs to be successful. Once designed and built, the cleanroom panels fit together easily and quickly — the speedy turnaround time for a RigidWall cleanroom is one of the great advantages it can offer your automotive cleanroom application. In just 2-3 days, you can have a fully operational, top-of-the-line, beautiful new RigidWall cleanroom for your automotive facility.

RigidWall cleanrooms provide a highly controlled, yet versatile cleanroom environment. Think a RigidWall modular cleanroom is perfect for your application? Let Angstrom Technology design, build, and install it! Our cleanroom experts can build a cleanroom to your exact specifications and cleanroom classification requirements. Give us a call or reach out online to get a quote.