How to Upgrade your Cleanroom

How to Upgrade your Cleanroom

As Greek philosopher Heroclitus said, “There is nothing permanent except change.” While the conditions in your cleanroom are designed to stay the same, your work rarely does. If your project needs are evolving, you might find yourself needing to meet new cleanroom classification requirements. Even a seemingly small jump to a more stringent ISO Class can be a big change for your facility. How do you make the leap? Let’s work through what upgrading your cleanroom will look like, and how to start the process. 

 

Upgrading Your Cleanroom Classification?

Start Here.

 

If you have to move to a more stringent qualification, the first thing you have to do is take a hard look at your cleanroom classification. Start with your classification as it stands and look at the specific areas you need to adjust to achieve the next level of cleanliness. To do that, we have to break down what’s in a classification. While there’s much more involved than just these three elements, the main differences between classifications are defined by:

  • Allowed particles (by number and size)
  • Air changes per hour (or airflow velocity)
  • Percentage of ceiling coverage of FFUs (filter fan units)

When upgrading your cleanroom, you’ll need to make changes to address these three areas in order to make your cleanroom more clean. In addition to ISO standards, your cleanroom upgrade will also reflect necessary changes specific to your new project or scope of work. Consider your new application or purpose and what upgrades will ensure success in your future endeavors. This could include more control over temperature and humidity, more space for equipment, cabinetry and other storage, cleanroom furniture, lighting, ESD-safe materials, or other specialized features. 

 

Redesigning Your Cleanroom

 

Whether you’re upgrading your cleanroom to meet a new classification, to match a new purpose, or both, there are several factors you should consider when redesigning your space. Your cleanroom upgrade encompasses the layout and structure of your space, your cleanroom’s systems, and how to maintain your new classification once reached.

Reconfiguring Your Cleanroom Layout

 

When redesigning your cleanroom layout, you can easily rearrange modular panels to create the new space and shape that works for your new project. Add more panels for a larger cleanroom, or remove and store extras for a more controlled, condensed space. Your upgraded cleanroom may require more space for additional personnel, large equipment, or room to move carts and transport products, so be sure to factor these potential needs into your cleanroom redesign.

If you’re upgrading your cleanroom to a more stringent classification, or your project parameters are changing significantly, you may need to choose a different structure altogether.  Consider these three types of cleanrooms for your redesigned facility:

  • HardWall Cleanrooms: Offering increased security and the highest possible control, HardWall cleanrooms are able to meet the strictest classification standards effortlessly.
  • SoftWall Cleanrooms: The most flexible cleanroom type, SoftWalls are easy to expand, reconfigure and fit in small spaces. They’re an affordable modular option with room to grow.
  • RigidWall Cleanrooms: With less flexibility than HardWalls but more stability than SoftWalls, RigidWall cleanrooms are a minimalist middle ground made of solid clear panels — great for showing off your operations to investors.

Upgrading Cleanroom HVAC System

 

Upgrading your cleanroom will likely also require upgrading the systems that support it. You may be able to update your existing cleanroom HVAC system or add a dedicated system if your new classification requires more control over temperature and humidity. A powerful and reliable HVAC system does more than just keep your employees comfortable. It also helps to maintain a stable atmosphere for any sensitive hardware or substances you work with, and prevents machinery from overheating. 

Humidity control can help avoid potential problems that come with too much moisture such as condensation and contamination, which could impact productivity by extending drying time or causing products or processes to fail. A cleanroom HVAC system that is in tune with your project and facility’s needs will keep your cleanroom clean and consistent.

Meeting New Cleanroom Filtration Requirements

 

Your cleanroom classification will specify your allowed particle count, as well as the minimum air changes needed to clean the air effectively. When upgrading your cleanroom, you will likely need to increase your air change rate and capture more and smaller particles. You can achieve this by adding more fan filter units to increase your percentage of ceiling coverage. This is also a good time to check and/or replace HEPA filters to make sure they are effectively removing particles from the air.

Additionally, rearranging your layout or furniture might require the implementation of a new airflow pattern. Furniture or equipment can block filters and interrupt the flow of air, creating pockets of turbulent air or spaces where contaminants could be trapped. To find the best airflow pattern that works with your upgraded cleanroom, work with a cleanroom design expert. They can use computational fluid dynamics to model your cleanroom airflow pattern and make decisions about layout that will improve air change efficiency and support the healthy life of your HEPA filters.

Proper airflow with effective filtration will ensure you are removing particles consistently and reaching appropriate levels for your new classification. Once it reaches that level of clean, all you have to do is keep it there.

Maintaining Your Cleanroom Classification

 

Once you’ve upgraded your cleanroom to its new classification, congratulations! Now you’re done, right? Unfortunately, reaching new requirements is only half of the battle. Most of the work lies in supporting your upgraded cleanroom with regular maintenance and cleaning. Follow through with regular maintenance tasks like cleaning procedures, replacing pre-filters, and servicing equipment to make sure your cleanroom stays in top condition. 

Your cleanroom should be checked regularly to make sure it complies with your classification standard. If your cleanroom falls in the ISO Class 5 or lower category, it will need to be monitored with particle count tests biannually, per ISO 14644-2. Cleanrooms with less stringent standards are checked once each year.

Keep up with scheduled maintenance and monitoring tasks to make sure your cleanroom meets its new standards completely and consistently.

If you need to upgrade your cleanroom to a higher classification, we can help. We’ll take a look at what you’ve got, and determine the best way to get you where you need to be. Once you’ve reached your goal, we can add you to our regular cleaning and maintenance schedule, so you don’t have to worry about consistently meeting your classification standards. Reach out to Angstrom Technology for all of your cleanroom needs today!

cleanroom-classification-quiz-cta
Medical Cleanroom Design Tips: Choosing Cabinetry

Medical Cleanroom Design Tips: Choosing Cabinetry

Choosing cleanroom cabinets requires some thought, as there aren’t clear guidelines for which are best for every cleanroom application. No official certification system exists for cabinetry the way other cleanroom materials are declared safe for use in cleanrooms. It’s important to carefully consider a few factors when making your choice, such as your medical cleanroom classification, what materials are compatible for use within your facility, and how your cleanroom cabinets will be used.

Medical cleanroom cabinets are used for safely storing products and substances to keep them out of the way in a cool, dry environment. You can use cleanroom cabinets for storing various items including:

  • Tools and equipment
  • Biological samples
  • Hazardous substances
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Gowns and booties
  • Industry-specific products

 

Types of Cleanroom Cabinets

Not every cabinet will be compatible with your cleanroom. The ideal cabinet for your application will be functional and space-efficient, and not introduce contaminants into the cleanroom nor allow them to collect on the material. Here are a few common medical cleanroom cabinet materials.

 

Stainless Steel Cleanroom Cabinets

Stainless steel cleanroom cabinets are the most popular style because they function well in many different types of cleanrooms. Great for diverse applications, stainless steel can handle wet or dry conditions and a wide range of temperatures. Stainless steel also has the advantage of being easy to maintain and sanitize. 

These cleanroom cabinets can build up static electricity, so they should be used in a cleanroom where static isn’t a threat, or adapted with a grounding or dissipation system built into the cabinet design. (Tip: For superior corrosion resistance, consider electropolished stainless steel.)

 

Open Wire Shelving

If your cleanroom uses a vertical airflow pattern, you may instead choose wire shelving over cabinets, in order to let the air move freely and limit the collection of contaminants. Either chrome-plated wire or polymer shelving are both great options that are about a third the cost of stainless steel. Open wire shelving is best for cleanrooms that don’t use corrosive agents in operation or for cleaning.

 

Laminate Cleanroom Storage Cabinets

Laminate cleanroom cabinets are an affordable choice for storage in cleanrooms with less stringent requirements. These cabinets are available in a variety of configurations with adjustable shelves. They can be either wall mounted, freestanding, or on casters.

 

Epoxy Cleanroom Cabinets

An epoxy coating can be applied to cleanroom cabinets and surfaces to increase stain resistance. Epoxy cleanroom cabinets work well for wet and dry applications.

 

Polyurethane Cleanroom Cabinets

Polyurethane is another coating similar to epoxy, but with greater chemical resistance. Polyurethane cleanroom cabinets have a smooth surface that is easy to clean and difficult to scratch or chip.

 

Acrylic Cleanroom Cabinets

Clear acrylic cleanroom storage cabinets are great for protecting products, parts, and substances. Using transparent cabinets can limit unnecessary movement in the cleanroom, reducing the risk of contamination.

 

Choosing Cleanroom Cabinets

As an important part of cleanroom design, all storage solutions like cleanroom cabinets and shelves used in a controlled environment must be compatible with cleanroom use and limit contaminant collection. Consider your cleanroom’s airflow pattern when choosing cabinets or shelves and avoid obstructing your HVAC and filtering system. Your cleanroom cabinets should also be able to withstand the materials you use for cleaning without corroding or shedding particles. Finally, if your cleanroom operations or staff are endangered by static electricity, avoid conductive materials unless you have a method to ground charges.

If you’re still not sure which cleanroom cabinets are best for your cleanroom, let Angstrom Technology help. As cleanroom design experts, we can help you choose the option that’s best for your application, and that meets your cleanroom classification. For more help choosing cleanroom cabinets and other furnishings, give us a call or reach out online

Designing an Energy Efficient Cleanroom

Designing an Energy Efficient Cleanroom

Designing an energy-efficient cleanroom is all about identifying the areas that have the most potential for waste and cutting energy consumption until the result is a streamlined, high-efficiency, ultra-clean cleanroom. 

 

Your first priority in designing your cleanroom is function. You want to make sure your cleanroom is accomplishing its main task of meeting class standards and protecting your work with as few contaminants as possible. Your second priority should be to cut costs and extra energy usage wherever possible, not only to allow your cleanroom to function at its highest level but also to save valuable energy, not only reducing your operational costs but lessening your cleanroom’s environmental impact.

 

The biggest waste in cleanroom design comes from building your cleanroom to run overcapacity, even though it’s not strictly necessary to meet minimum requirements. This makes your cleanroom’s systems work harder than they need and cost more money to run. Let’s look at a few areas where you can cut back on your energy consumption when designing an energy-efficient cleanroom.

 

Energy Efficient Cleanroom Space

 

When designing an energy-efficient cleanroom, one of the major factors to consider is space. To run your cleanroom at maximum efficiency, your cleanroom should only be as large as necessary to accommodate equipment and personnel. You should condense your cleanroom wherever possible by removing modular cleanroom wall panels or reshaping its SoftWalls. This effectively reduces the amount of air in your cleanroom, helping you achieve better control over its quality. It also means you will use less energy to filter, change, heat, and cool the smallest amount of air possible.

 

Assembling the cleanroom on-site has the potential to create more gaps during the building process where air and energy could escape. Alternatively, modular, pre-engineered cleanrooms will save energy, time, and money, while minimizing expensive air leakageCleanroom design experts can help you plan out your cleanroom ahead of time and anticipate the areas air might escape, designing optimal airflow patterns using computational fluid dynamics software. 

 

Your energy-efficient cleanroom design should control leakage as much as possible, including around the most conspicuous areas such as pass-throughs, walls, ceilings, and duct connections. Your condensed cleanroom will also need to avoid overpressurization. Overpressurization is not only expensive to generate but increases air leakage, which is extra energy seeping away.

 

Energy Efficient Cleanroom Systems 

 

Your cleanroom’s energy usage is dominated by its HVAC system. The HVAC system is responsible for heating and cooling your cleanroom, regulating humidity, and controlling air changes and filtration. It’s also one of the biggest areas you can cut down on energy usage and costs. 

 

Many cleanrooms use their HVAC systems to excess, changing the air more frequently than absolutely necessary. By reducing air change rates to where your cleanroom can still meet its class standards, you can make your cleanroom more energy efficient. Particularly if your cleanroom already uses a particle counting system, the air might not need to be changed as frequently to achieve optimal cleanliness. Also, keeping your HEPA and ULPA filters in excellent condition will increase the efficiency of each air change, so fewer will be needed to keep the air clean.

 

Consider installing updated HVAC systems that use new, energy-efficient technology. These systems might recover “wasted heat” by reheating used air or water from your cleanroom’s air compressor or the chiller condenser. New technology can also consider what times your cleanroom needs to be at high-standard operational cleanliness versus when the space is unoccupied and can possibly conserve energy. If your cleanroom is not in use 24 hours a day, you can adjust the temperature, humidity, and air change rates to save energy when the room is dormant. 

 

Energy Efficient Cleanroom Fixtures

 

Finally, energy-saving fixtures can be an integral part of your energy-efficient cleanroom design. Use LED lighting and water-saving appliances wherever possible. Consider attaching detection sensors to overhead lighting to limit wasted energy.

 

When selecting industry-specific equipment for your cleanroom, choose models that can run at the lowest level possible. If you can, use equipment that can be turned off or have some components switched off when unused. Similar to your HVAC system, using newer equipment may present more energy savings than outdated equipment. 

 

To see if new equipment or systems are a valuable investment, don’t consider the price of the update so much as the amount they can save over time. The savings you can accumulate through the design of an energy-efficient cleanroom can offset the costs of the upgrades and help you achieve your cleanroom goals with minimal waste.

 

With careful planning and design, you can create an energy-efficient cleanroom that achieves its goals, complies with class standards, and saves energy costs as much as possible. An energy-efficient cleanroom will allow you to address your environmental impact while managing operational costs and enjoying the savings from decreased energy usage and expenditures. 

 

Looking to make your cleanroom as efficient as possible? Talk to the experts at Angstrom. We take pride in creating customized cleanroom solutions that fit your needs, no matter how big or small. If an energy efficient cleanroom is what you’re looking for, we’re here to make it happen.

Redesigning Your Modular Cleanroom? Here are 5 Things to Keep in Mind

Redesigning Your Modular Cleanroom? Here are 5 Things to Keep in Mind

Modular cleanrooms — particularly SoftWall cleanrooms — are easy to expand, downsize, or reconfigure. When redesigning a modular cleanroom, some things you should keep in mind are: whether you plan to downsize or upsize your space, how to best reconfigure your systems to maintain class standards, a few ways to repurpose extra materials, and the importance of working with experts who have experience in cleanroom redesign and can help you complete the job to your specifications.

 

Redesign Your Modular Cleanroom

The great thing about modular cleanroom panels or SoftWalls is that they can be rearranged with ease to suit the needs of your business as it grows or changes. By adding or subtracting modular cleanroom panels you can redesign your cleanroom to meet new needs or class standards or save on energy and costs. Be careful not to underestimate the space your equipment and personnel need to function effectively with your cleanroom redesign.

 

Expand Your Cleanroom

To expand your modular cleanroom, the process is easy! Simply add extra panels and arrange them in a layout that suits your equipment and production goals. Keep in mind that with extra space you may need additional furniture to support equipment, store materials, or serve as workspaces for employees. 

A cleanroom expansion will require the redesign of paths through the space to limit contamination and streamline work within your cleanroom. You may also need to update your HVAC system. If you have more air in your cleanroom to change, you’ll need a more powerful system that can handle the job and maintain strict air quality standards.

 

Downsize Your Cleanroom

Removing panels will reduce the space inside your cleanroom. SoftWall cleanrooms can be downsized easily because they aren’t fixed or rigid. They are also easy to expand again if you need more space in the future. 

When downsizing, make sure to leave sufficient room for all equipment and workspaces as well as space to access materials. Eliminate unnecessary furniture or fixtures and retain the essential pieces. If you have extra panels, furniture, or surfaces, you may be able to repurpose them outside of your cleanroom.

 

Reconfigure Your Cleanroom

If you don’t need to change the amount of space in your cleanroom, you may need to reconfigure your layout to accommodate different projects, equipment, or class standards. Modular cleanroom panels can be rearranged to create a different room shape and make new paths within the space. You may also need to reconfigure your HVAC system, making sure to not block airflow when rearranging furniture and other pieces.

 

Maintain Class Standards

With any kind of cleanroom redesign, you’ll need to make sure your new cleanroom matches the existing class standards for your application or meets the new standards for which you’re redesigning. Any new panels, flooring, and furniture should be made of materials that are non-particle shedding and support the use they will receive with moderate to heavy traffic. Remember that gowning areas and pass-throughs are also part of your cleanroom and should be updated as necessary.

 

Utilize Extra Materials

If your cleanroom redesign left you with extra materials like panels, furniture, or equipment, consider if you can repurpose them before disposing. Modular cleanroom panels can be made into gowning areas, storage for cleaning supplies, or extra equipment. Utilize extra panels outside of your downsized cleanroom as places to keep unused tools or as lockers to store employees’ personal items while they’re working in your cleanroom.

 

Support Your Systems

If you’re redesigning your cleanroom, chances are your HVAC system will need to be redesigned or updated as well. If you’ve expanded your workspace, a more powerful system may be necessary to change a larger amount of air consistently and thoroughly. Even if your cleanroom hasn’t grown or changed size at all, a cleanroom redesign is a great time to check in with your systems and make sure they can service every part of your rearranged layout. 

 

Work with Modular Cleanroom Professionals

When redesigning your modular cleanroom, you’ll want to seek the advice and assistance of professionals in the cleanroom industry, not just any contractor. A team with cleanroom design experience will be well-versed in your cleanroom’s class standards and be able to ensure that every part of your cleanroom redesign is up to code. They can help you understand where you can save space and energy and how to move things around in a smart and efficient way.

 

Redesigning your modular cleanroom? We’re here to help! Angstrom Technology experts can help you downsize or upgrade your cleanroom on your budget, and in a way that maximizes your space and process efficiency. Reach out to us online or give us a call at (888) 768-6900 to get started.

Cleanroom Design Tips: Choosing Cleanroom Flooring

Cleanroom Design Tips: Choosing Cleanroom Flooring

When designing the perfect cleanroom, every element has to fit together. Working from head to toe, each component has a part to play in keeping your cleanroom running efficiently. When it comes to flooring, you’ll need to pick the type that best fits the work you’re doing, the materials you’re using, and adds to the cleanliness of your space. 

Before choosing your cleanroom flooring material, consider what requirements your cleanroom has to meet and the type of traffic and wear it receives. Maybe you need a material that can handle harsh chemicals for cleaning or manufacturing processes. Or perhaps your industry deals with electronics whose main enemy is static electricity, and you need flooring that will dissipate static and protect your work. 

There are several common flooring materials for cleanroom design, each with advantages and qualities that make them more qualified for certain applications over others. Here are some of the most common flooring types for cleanrooms:

 

Cleanroom Flooring Types:

 

Rubber Flooring

 

Rubber flooring is installed in sheets and then cold welded into place. It can stand up to heavy wear, making it one of the most durable choices of cleanroom flooring. Rubber sheet flooring is also anti-static and easy to maintain. It’s a low-cost option that is available in many colors that can match any cleanroom design. Rubber flooring is the favorite of many cleanroom designers because it is easy to install and can meet a large variety of operational requirements.

 

Vinyl Seamless Flooring

Vinyl flooring is one of the easiest to clean because of its seamless construction. It can also be used to cover walls in a smooth transition, meaning fewer crevices for contaminants to build up. Vinyl flooring is a very economical option for low-traffic cleanrooms that don’t have to meet high weight requirements. Consistent traffic will wear out vinyl flooring quickly.

 

Epoxy Coating

Epoxy is a coating that is installed over a solid concrete substrate, preferably one that has no cracks and is structurally solid. Epoxy will fill in small imperfections on the floor’s surface, so some leveling is required. Epoxy’s advantage is its dense coating which has a low porosity, making it strong and durable under heavy traffic as well as easy to clean and maintain. It can be applied in a variety of color and performance options that can stand up to corrosive chemicals and dissipate static.

 

Urethane System

Polyurethane flooring exhibits a glossy or satin finish that is maintained even under heavy traffic and use. It is highly resistant to harsh chemicals and substances like gasoline, fuels, hydrocarbons, acids, and alcohols, making it an excellent cleanroom design choice for manufacturing cleanrooms. It also has light-reflecting properties that aid in illumination and can have applications that prevent skids.

 

Others:

Another cleanroom flooring type is Vinyl Composition Tile (VCT). VCT has many seams that require consistent maintenance but is a cost-effective option that complements applications in electronics because of the electrostatic dissipative feature.

Raised flooring panels can be used to improve airflow within a cleanroom. They also increase conductivity and may be static dissipative. Raised panels can be solid panels, grated or perforated.

Depending on the unique specifications of your facility, some flooring types will be better able to accommodate your needs than others. If you’re planning the design for your new cleanroom and are still unsure which flooring type to go with, let the experts at Angstrom Technology help. Our design experts can help you make the tough choices, and ensure you get the cleanroom that’s perfect for your application.

Designing a Cleanroom on a Budget

Designing a Cleanroom on a Budget

Designing a cleanroom is already a challenge. Add onto that the challenge of limited funds, and your cleanroom design project may seem almost impossible. But even with budget constraints or limitations, you can still design an efficient and effective cleanroom for your application. Here’s everything you need to know about designing a cleanroom on a budget:

 

How to Determine Your Cleanroom Design Budget

Before you can even begin designing, you need to determine your cleanroom design budget. This blog post breaks down how to do that and what factors you need to consider when making that budget, including cleanroom classification, construction type, and more.

 

Hidden Cost Benefits to Modular Construction

Anyone who’s pinching pennies on their cleanroom design should look into the possibility of a modular cleanroom. This post outlines the cost benefits to modular construction, from lower sticker price to tax benefits from quicker depreciation, that you may not have considered when writing your initial cleanroom design budget.

 

Everything You Need to Know About Cleanroom Design

This post has all the information you’ll need to begin your cleanroom design project, from understanding ISO classifications to that all-important consideration: budget.

 

Cutting Cleanroom Costs

A tight budget doesn’t just affect your cleanroom design project, it can affect the day-to-day operations of your cleanroom as well. And with expensive, state-of-the-art equipment, constant purification and filtration of the air, temperature and humidity controls, and necessary personal protective equipment and cleanroom apparel, operating a cleanroom isn’t cheap. This post outlines a few of the ways you can reduce cleanroom costs during the operation and design phases.

 

How Does Cleanroom Classification Affect Your Cleanroom Budget?

Your required cleanroom classification has a huge effect on the budget for your cleanroom, both in terms of design and operation of the cleanroom. For many reasons, the more stringent your classification, the more you’ll need to allocate to your cleanroom budget. This post outlines why that is and what it means for your cleanroom and budget.

 

Designing a cleanroom on a tight budget? A modular cleanroom may be the right solution! Contact Angstrom Technology to discuss how our cleanroom offerings can work for you.