Everything You Need to Know About Designing Your Cleanroom Layout

Everything You Need to Know About Designing Your Cleanroom Layout

From arranging walls to furniture to equipment, there are several things to consider when designing the best cleanroom layout, including what will provide optimal airflow, allow for easy cleaning, keep the space organized and efficient, and — most importantly — help meet strict cleanroom classifications.

What’s the Best Cleanroom Layout?

The best cleanroom layout for your space should not just hold the stuff you need to do your work, but also determine the flow of air and people through the room. It should work with your cleanroom classification and industry requirements, set you up for success with your current project, and be adaptable to evolve with your work. 

Using Cleanroom Design to Build Your Ideal Cleanroom Layout

The best cleanroom layout for you will likely look different from other cleanrooms, other industries, and other applications. To determine which priorities of cleanroom design will affect your ideal cleanroom layout, you’ll need to focus on three areas: the space you have to work with, your cleanroom classifications, and the cleanroom systems that power and maintain your cleanroom standards. 

Your application may have other factors to consider, like industry-specific equipment, protocols, or blank — which each may require dedicated space within your cleanroom — but designing the best cleanroom layout starts with the three basics of space, classification, and systems.

Consider Your Available Space

How much space are you working with will determine the limitations of your cleanroom size, and also where creative choices with your cleanroom layout can maximize the functionality of smaller spaces or use wide spaces effectively without wasted energy.

If you’re building your cleanroom in an existing structure, your cleanroom layout may be connected to your building structure, use established windows as an efficient light source, or establish a custom ceiling height to fit oversized equipment or products. 

A certain cleanroom type may be better for you, depending on your ISO classification and project needs. Each may offer unique layout options, flexibility, and capacity to reach stringent standards. The main three types of cleanrooms are HardWall, SoftWall and RigidWall cleanrooms:

  • HardWall Cleanrooms: can reach any cleanroom classification, even ISO Class 1. They come pre-wired and pre-insulated for simple assembly on-site.
  • SoftWall Cleanrooms: are recommended for cleanrooms ISO Classes 4-8. Their flexible and lightweight construction means they can be easily configured and reconfigured to any cleanroom layout you choose.
  • RigidWall Cleanrooms: are best for cleanrooms ISO 5-8. RigidWall cleanrooms feature clear, flat panels — great for showing off your work to investors or executives.

Using modular cleanroom panels enables you to modify your layout easily as your work evolves. Simply add or subtract panels to expand or contract your cleanroom space, or rearrange panels to suit a new cleanroom layout or redesign project.

Meet Your Cleanroom Classification

Your cleanroom layout should work to meet your cleanroom classification and other industry standards. If you have industry-specific equipment to include in your cleanroom design, the cleanroom layout needs to accommodate paths for employees to work around and service various equipment. You may also require custom door heights or extra-wide pathways to move products, carts, or equipment around the cleanroom. In addition to airflow pattern, your cleanroom layout should consider the best traffic pattern for successful operations. 

Integrate Your Cleanroom Systems

The best cleanroom layout for your space should incorporate all the cleanroom systems you rely on to control your environment, including cleanroom filtration, your cleanroom hvac, lighting, and more.  

If your cleanroom needs to comply with strict particle count or air change requirements to meet its classification, you’ll need a cleanroom layout that allows air to move freely and uniformly through your space, limiting turbulence and facilitating adequate filtration. Be sure to design a layout that is big enough to hold all of your equipment and cleanroom furniture, but not much bigger — unused space is extra air that needs to be filtered and treated in your cleanroom, which costs extra energy and money to maintain.

Work With a Professional Cleanroom Design Expert

Especially if you have stringent standards, it’s a good idea to work with a cleanroom design expert when building your cleanroom layout. A professional cleanroom designer can build the cleanroom that’s ideal for your application, customize it to your needs, then quickly set it up on site, minimizing disruption to your facility’s operations.

Could your cleanroom benefit from a new layout? Whether you’re starting from scratch or planning your cleanroom redesign, Angstrom Technology can help make it a success. Our cleanroom experts can design the ideal cleanroom layout to encourage optimal airflow and reduce strain on your HVAC and filtration systems. Give us a call to get started!

How to Test Your Cleanroom Classification

How to Test Your Cleanroom Classification

Every cleanroom requires periodic testing to make sure it reaches the necessary particle count allowances for its cleanroom classification. A cleanroom is initially certified once it’s built, and then needs to be retested every 6 to 12 months to ensure it continues to comply with stringent requirements for cleanliness and control. Let’s go over what your cleanroom needs to test its cleanroom classification and how you can test your cleanroom yourself using a particle counter.

Cleanroom Classification Testing Requirements

Document ISO 14644-2, Cleanroom Testing and Compliance, stipulates that all cleanrooms regardless of classification level must be routinely tested for quality. Particle count tests must be performed annually for cleanrooms ISO Class 6 and above, or biannually for ISO Class 5 and below.

Other recommended tests for cleanrooms include:

  • installed filter leakage
  • containment filter leakage
  • recovery
  • airflow visualization

Acceptable Particle Count for Your Cleanroom Classification

 

All cleanrooms have different levels of cleanliness they must reach, as outlined in their cleanroom classification. Careful monitoring and adherence to particle counts helps to maintain cleanliness and quality across ISO cleanroom classifications. 

Here are the accepted levels of particles in each ISO class, designated by number and size:

ISO 14644-1 Cleanroom Standards
ClassMaximum Allowed Particles (per m3)
≥0.2 µm≥0.3 µm≥0.5 µm≥1 µm≥5 µm
ISO 12.371.020.350.0830.0029
ISO 223.710.23.50.830.029
ISO 3237102358.30.29
ISO 42,3701,020352832.9
ISO 523,70010,2003,52083229
ISO 6237,000102,00035,2008,320293
ISO 72.37×1061,020,000352,00083,2002,930
ISO 82.37×1071.02×1073,520,000832,00029,300
ISO 92.37×1081.02×10835,200,0008,320,000293,000

 

How to Test Your Cleanroom Classification

Whether your cleanroom requires formal testing every 6 or 12 months, it’s important to know how to test the particle count in your cleanroom to make sure you are reaching the levels set by your cleanroom classification. Let’s go through the steps of how to test your cleanroom classification using a particle counter.

  • Step 1: Determine how many sample locations you need by using the volume of your cleanroom in cubic meters. Many particle counters will calculate this for you after entering in the area of the space.
  • Step 2: Set the particle counter to record particles of a certain size, and specify the maximum count allowed and the minimum volume to be sampled at each location.
  • Step 3: Perform measurements at each sampling location. Depending on the device you’re using to measure particles, for example a handheld particle counter or a freestanding monitoring system, as well as the airflow velocity in your cleanroom, it may take varying amounts of time to collect measurements to the right volume. You may even need to take several measurements per location, after which you can average the totals.
  • Step 4: Once you have collected an average measurement for each sampling location, add the measurements together and divide by the number of locations to find an average for the entire cleanroom. 
  • Step 5: Determine if your cleanroom meets the requirements of your cleanroom classification by consulting the table above using the number you found from your test. If your cleanroom failed, use your findings from each sampling location to determine where your cleanroom requires improvement.

Your cleanroom requires periodic testing to make sure it reaches the necessary particle count allowances and is effectively maintaining a clean, controlled environment. If you’re concerned that your cleanroom is not reaching the required particle count for your ISO class, talk to the cleanroom experts at Angstrom Technology today. We design, build, and install high-quality cleanrooms that can reach and maintain any cleanroom classification, and would be happy to professionally assess yours and help you meet your standards.

Understanding Air Pressure in Cleanrooms

Understanding Air Pressure in Cleanrooms

Pressurized cleanrooms are used in a range of industries and applications. Varying levels of pressure determines the way air naturally moves in a space. High and low pressure, or positive and negative pressure, can be used as a tool in cleanroom environments to help cleanrooms reach their cleanroom classifications and protect their products and people. Let’s explore air pressure in cleanrooms to discover how it works.

 

 

How Does Air Pressure in Cleanrooms Work?

 

 

It’s a well-known natural process for air to flow from high to low pressure. Examples of this are found around us every day. Wind and weather are formed from the uneven heating of the earth’s surface, which generates pockets of high and low pressure air. If you’ve ever witnessed the sudden closing of a door as air is sucked out of a room where no breeze was felt, what you experienced was the high pressure air moving to a low pressure area to achieve stasis. Air escaping from a balloon is traveling from a high pressure environment to the relatively low pressure of the surrounding air. 

What happens in all of these situations is that when air is moving in one direction, it’s not moving the opposite direction. When air is moving out of the balloon, there isn’t also air moving into the balloon, as long as the air inside the balloon is more pressurized. This concept can be applied to cleanrooms, to stop the flow of air into a cleanroom, or out of it, limiting particle transfer via the air and maintaining a cleaner environment.

To state this more plainly, higher pressure air within a cleanroom (compared to the air outside the room) blocks against contaminants entering the cleanroom, as air naturally wants to flow out. Conversely, lower pressure air within a cleanroom can trap contaminants and prevent them from leaving a cleanroom, as the natural flow of air wants to move in. 

Using pressure in cleanrooms, either higher pressure (positive pressure), or lower pressure (negative pressure) can be extremely useful in many cleanroom applications — but how do you implement it in the cleanroom design?

 

 

Using Pressure in Cleanroom Design

 

 

Positive and negative pressure in cleanrooms is achieved by controlling how much air is put into the cleanroom, and how much is withdrawn. 

In a positive pressure cleanroom, clean, filtered air is consistently pumped into the room through the HEPA filtration and cleanroom HVAC system. In the event that a door or window was opened in the cleanroom, air would rush out into the outside environment. 

This positive pressure ensures that in the event of a breach or leak in the cleanroom, the products and processes within the cleanroom are protected. Because the cleanroom has positive pressure, the air is forced out of the cleanroom, preventing contaminated or unfiltered air from seeping in. 

To achieve negative air pressure, external exhausts pull air from the cleanroom at a faster rate than air is introduced over a span of time. The resulting negative pressure means air will want to flow into the cleanroom to fill the low pressure area, effectively stopping contaminants from going against that natural movement in order to escape the cleanroom.

To maintain either positive or negative pressure in cleanrooms, adjacent spaces must be maintained at a lower or higher pressure than that of the cleanroom, respectively.

If you implement a pressurization system into your cleanroom design, having a pressure monitoring system is important to ensuring balance and consistency within your cleanroom. The monitoring system will check and maintain consistent pressure, which can be adjusted manually or automatically.

 

 

Positive Pressure Cleanroom Applications

 

 

High pressure, or positive pressure cleanrooms are extremely useful in applications where the slightest particle interference could disrupt processes within the cleanroom. Semiconductor cleanrooms, microprocessor cleanrooms, and aerospace and defense cleanrooms are just a few examples of industries that benefit from positive pressure cleanrooms, as they are extremely averse to contaminating particles. Many medical cleanrooms use positive pressure, to protect sensitive patients and maintain a controlled space.

Even when the stakes aren’t quite as high, using slightly positive pressure in cleanrooms can help reach cleanroom classifications and maintain a cleaner environment.

 

 

Negative Pressure Cleanroom Applications

 

 

Low pressure cleanrooms, or negative pressure cleanrooms, are ideal for applications that need to isolate substances, particles, or fumes inside the cleanroom environment to protect the space outside of the cleanroom. They are widely used in medical cleanrooms, for medical research, testing, and the development of treatments using sensitive substances. 

Pharmaceutical applications also use negative pressure in cleanrooms as part of a segmented layout. One room is kept at a lower pressure, while the ante room immediately outside it is maintained at a slightly higher pressure. This allows employees to transition into the negative pressure room with minimized disruption.

High and low pressure, or positive and negative pressure, can both be used as tools in cleanroom environments to protect against entering contaminants (in positive pressure cleanrooms) or contaminant leakage (in negative pressure cleanrooms). Using the natural movement of air due to pressure, we can build safer, more effective cleanrooms.

Think a negative or positive pressure cleanroom is right for you? Reach out to Angstrom Technology. Our cleanroom experts can design the best air flow patterns and containment systems for your application.

Best Ergonomic Cleanroom Furniture for the Plastics Industry

Best Ergonomic Cleanroom Furniture for the Plastics Industry

Plastics industry cleanrooms are only successful if they are operated by employees who use their time wisely and productively. Therefore, the key to any productive cleanroom is taking care of its personnel. Providing your employees with cleanroom furniture that is not only functional, but helpful and designed for their comfort will help them do their jobs better and enjoy their work more, producing better results for your facility. 

Let’s take a look at the best ergonomic cleanroom furniture for plastics industry cleanrooms, and how your cleanroom design affects employee comfort and productivity. 

 

 

Cleanroom Furniture for Employee Comfort and Productivity

 

 

When choosing cleanroom furniture for your plastics industry facility, consider all parts of the cleanroom where your employees spend time. What can you do to make them more comfortable while they develop new products, test out materials, and work on equipment?

Some cleanroom furniture you might include in your facility could include cleanroom tables, chairs, and anti-fatigue mats.

 

Cleanroom Tables

 

Including cleanroom tables in your facility is a great way to improve operations within your plastics industry cleanroom. They can be made of a variety of materials, from laminated resin to stainless steel, have perforated surfaces to allow for easy airflow, and are designed to be completely adjustable for the height and comfort of your employees.

 

Cleanroom Chairs

 

Quality cleanroom chairs are essential for employees that must spend any serious amount of time seated while performing work tasks. Choose cleanroom chairs that encourage good posture and are fully adjustable for all body types.

 

Anti-Fatigue Mats

 

Anti-fatigue mats are used to cover areas where employees stand for extended periods to operate equipment or perform tasks. They come in different sizes and thicknesses, depending on the area your employees are working in and the desired level of cushioning. Anti-fatigue mats for cleanrooms are designed to be non particle-shedding and easy to clean, which makes them a perfect choice for cleanrooms with stringent cleanliness standards.

 

 

Ergonomic Cleanroom Design

 

 

In addition to choosing the right cleanroom furniture, your cleanroom design is just as important to any successful cleanroom.  An exceptional cleanroom design that uses a convenient layout, has plenty of storage, and makes use of high performance systems will make your employees’ jobs easier and their workdays more productive.

 

Cleanroom Layout

 

Your cleanroom layout can make the difference in your employees level of comfort and ease at work. A cleanroom designed with a convenient layout has a logical traffic pattern, which allows employees and air to move easily without obstruction or turbulence. If your cleanroom is too crowded or cluttered for this to happen, it might be time to consider expanding or upgrading your cleanroom before you risk serious consequences for your cleanroom’s productivity and cleanliness.

 

Cleanroom Storage

 

A well-designed cleanroom should include plenty of cleanroom storage to keep all the items your employees need within reach. Equipment, tools, cleaning supplies, and more should all be easily accessible and properly housed to limit the risk of contamination. Adequate storage within the cleanroom will also limit traffic in and out of the cleanroom.

 

Cleanroom HVAC and Systems

 

Your cleanroom HVAC and filtration systems do more than control the environment and air quality for your products, but also keep your personnel comfortable. Your cleanroom HVAC system should be powerful enough to regulate temperature, humidity and pressure within your cleanroom to the ideal levels for employee comfort, while the powerful HEPA filters remove particles and dangerous substances from the environment. 

Employees who are well-supported and comfortable are happier and more productive. A successful cleanroom depends on cleanroom furniture that helps employees do their best work as much as a clean, non particle-shedding environment. Any top-of-the-line cleanroom should factor employees into its design, as they are the ones who will need to operate and work in it. 

At Angstrom Technology, we design, build, and install cleanrooms made to keep your employees safe, comfortable, and productive. To learn more about our designing an ergonomic cleanroom, give us a call or reach out online.

5 Most Common Aerospace Cleanroom Construction FAQs

5 Most Common Aerospace Cleanroom Construction FAQs

Cleanroom construction can be complex, and involves a lot of planning, questioning, and thought. Here are 5 common questions about cleanroom construction, answered. For any others, reach out to your local cleanroom experts!

 

How much space does an aerospace cleanroom take up?

 

 

The size of your aerospace cleanroom matters, so it’s always best to work with an experienced cleanroom designer to develop the ideal cleanroom to meet your desired footprint. Aerospace cleanrooms will need as much space as it takes to comfortably contain your equipment, personnel, and cleanroom systems, but they shouldn’t be built bigger than necessary, as this creates more air that needs to be filtered and controlled, increasing energy expenditures and costs for your business.

If you are concerned you don’t have enough space to build your new cleanroom, know that some cleanroom types, like SoftWall cleanrooms, are ideal in condensed spaces. Their flexible, lightweight construction means they can be put almost anywhere, and easily expanded, reconfigured, or picked up and transported to a new location if your project needs change.

 

 

Can I build a cleanroom in my existing building?

 

 

You absolutely can, as long as the space meets your cleanroom size and height requirements and is accessible for cleanroom construction. 

Cleanrooms can be built in a wide range of spaces, and will take up as much or little space as your project needs demand. They can be designed to be freestanding, connected to existing walls, or suspended from a reinforced ceiling grid, so where you install your cleanroom is up to you.

Cleanrooms built in existing structures might be able to integrate with the building’s own HVAC system or use light from existing windows. Talk to your cleanroom designer about how your unique space could align with the needs of your cleanroom.

 

 

How long does cleanroom construction take?

 

 

Cleanroom construction times vary depending on the size of your facility and the customizations you need to make your cleanroom design a success. However, building a cleanroom using modular cleanroom panels can reduce this time significantly.

Also, some cleanroom types, such as SoftWall cleanrooms, may only take a day or two to complete, where a HardWall aerospace cleanroom that needs to meet an ISO Class 5 or lower classification may take longer to design and install. Your cleanroom design expert can help you understand how long the total cleanroom construction will take, depending on the specifications of your project.

Cleanroom Construction Process

 

The majority of the time building a cleanroom is spent planning and designing the cleanroom to meet your project needs. Considering your aerospace cleanroom classification and other requirements specific to your application, a cleanroom designer will create a comprehensive plan for your new cleanroom, considering the ideal layout, airflow pattern, and combination of materials that will offer the best performance over its lifetime. 

Once the cleanroom design is complete, the modular cleanroom panels are fabricated and delivered to your site. Your cleanroom can be assembled with detailed instructions or with the help of an experienced installation crew to set up your cleanroom so it’s ready to operate. 

 

 

What components do I need in my aerospace cleanroom?

 

 

Every aerospace cleanroom will look a bit different, depending on the work that you do. Typically, however, most cleanrooms contain the same basic components: cleanroom wall panels, a cleanroom HVAC system, and the filtration system. You’ll also have things like lighting, windows and pass throughs, flooring, and furniture, but the main three deserve the most attention.

 

Aerospace Cleanroom Wall Panels

 

The modular cleanroom panels that make up the structure of your aerospace cleanroom do more than just define the space. They are also customized and outfitted with wiring, insulation, and any other features that your application demands. Modular cleanroom panels cut the cleanroom construction down considerably, and allow you to have a specialized facility designed uniquely for your work.

 

Aerospace Cleanroom HVAC

 

Any top performing aerospace cleanroom will need a powerful cleanroom HVAC system to move and treat air within the controlled environment. Depending on your aerospace cleanroom classification and other industry-specific requirements, you may have very strict standards to reach for air temperature, humidity, and pressure. The cleanroom HVAC system is responsible for keeping your employees comfortable and their work safe.

 

Aerospace Cleanroom Filtration

 

Proper cleanroom filtration is vital to achieving optimal control over the air quality within your cleanroom, and essential for reaching stringent cleanroom classifications. You’ll likely address filtration by installing powerful filter/fan units, or FFUs, in the ceiling grid of your aerospace cleanroom. Combined with an expertly designed airflow pattern, your cleanroom filtration system should be more than capable of removing large numbers of particles of various sizes from the air. With many, many air changes per hour, you can reach the acceptable particle count designated by your ISO Class.

Beyond those, you’ll need to account for your industry-specific equipment, personnel, and ample space for both to move around. If you work with oversized components, make sure to include plenty of space in your cleanroom design for things to be maneuvered without creating more obstacles in your cleanroom. Non standard ceiling heights, as well as oversized windows and doors can help you accommodate everything you need, safe and sound.

 

 

How clean does my aerospace cleanroom need to be?

 

 

Understanding cleanroom classifications can be complicated. The International Standards Organization publishes documents that define the levels of cleanliness required for different Classes of cleanrooms, 1-9, where Class 1 is the cleanest possible environment and Class 9 is equivalent to room air. Many aerospace cleanrooms are at a minimum ISO 14644-1 Class 7. Your aerospace cleanroom classifications will vary depending on your application and could include other industry-specific standards, such as ASTM International or NASA.

Depending on your Class standards, your aerospace cleanroom will need to achieve a certain level of cleanliness defined by particle count, air changes, and ceiling coverage. To help you design a cleanroom that meets all your requirements, talk to an expert cleanroom designer.

Have more questions about designing and building a cleanroom for your space? Give the experts at Angstrom Technology a call! We’d be happy to walk through your specific requirements and help you get the best cleanroom installed in your space.