How to Control Static in Your Cleanroom

How to Control Static in Your Cleanroom

Many applications require limited static:  electronics manufacturing, air traffic control, chemical labs, and semiconductor are just a few examples. If your cleanroom application involves sensitive, specialized electronics, hazardous chemicals, or other delicate equipment or processes that may be sensitive to static, you’re going to want to ensure that your cleanroom environment controls static. Here are things to consider when designing your cleanroom when you want to control static.

 

Anti-static flooring

There are several flooring options for static control. They work by grounding the static charge that naturally builds up in any environment, moving it through the floor to the ground and preventing it from building up and affecting your processes.

There are two main types of anti-static flooring, dissipative and conductive, and these are both available at varying levels of resistance (measured in ohms). The resistance and type of anti-static flooring you need will depend on the risk of electrostatic discharge as well how critical the effects of electrostatic discharge would be for your application.

 

Anti-static wall panels

Anti-static wall panels are also available for controlling static within a cleanroom. Cleanroom-specific anti-static wall materials are crucial, as cleanroom wall materials will also control particle shedding, preventing particulate contamination in the cleanroom environment. Additionally, wall panels with picking bins or storage for ESD components can protect static-sensitive items.

 

Clothing and gowning procedures 

In addition to the gowning procedures already in place for your cleanroom, if your aim is to control static, you may want to implement new clothing and gowning protocols. These may include anti-static garments or ESD cuffs, low-static shoes, or even equipment such as an air shower before entry to the cleanroom environment.

Even if anti-static garments aren’t necessary, you may want to prohibit wearing static-prone and high-static clothing articles, like those made of fleece and similar fabrics, in the cleanroom environment, or require basic gowning in a lab coat.

 

No matter the environmental factors you need to control, Angstrom Technology can design and install a cleanroom that works for your application.

 

Do You Need A Soundproof Cleanroom?

Do You Need A Soundproof Cleanroom?

A cleanroom can be designed to meet the needs of almost any application with any requirements, from controlling static and humidity to even controlling sound. You probably know whether your application requires control for things like humidity and static, but what about sound. Do you need a soundproof cleanroom? Here are some conditions where you might.

Loud Manufacturing Environments

If your facility is a manufacturing environment that requires protective hearing equipment like earplugs ear, soundproofing your cleanroom is a good idea, especially if hearing protection isn’t necessary for your cleanroom processes. Hearing protection might even hinder those processes, as foam from earplugs and earmuffs can hold and shed particles.

If your cleanroom contains the loud equipment and the rest of your processes outside the cleanroom don’t require hearing protection, it can be worthwhile to soundproof your cleanroom so that hearing protection is only required inside. This can greatly reduce hearing-related injuries to your personnel and reduce the cost of hearing protection for your company.

Loud Equipment Containment

If you have a piece of equipment or pieces of equipment that are particularly loud, rather than creating a soundproof cleanroom, a more efficient solution might be creating a soundproof containment room for that equipment. A modular soundproof room can be created around a loud piece of equipment. The benefit to this is reduced noise and need for ear protection in your facility. Additionally, modular containment rooms can be freestanding or can incorporate your existing structure, so no matter where a piece of equipment is housed, it can be soundproofed.

Sensitive Processes

If your cleanroom operation is a particularly sensitive process, a soundproof cleanroom may also be beneficial. Sound is vibration, and delicate operations may be affected by loud noises and strong vibrations, which a soundproof cleanroom can reduce.

Proprietary Information

If your cleanroom operations are top secret or deal with proprietary information which should not leave the walls of the cleanroom, a soundproof cleanroom can also prevent the unplanned and unwanted spread of information by containing sound within the cleanroom.

 

Angstrom Technology’s modular cleanrooms and in-plantinplant buildings can be customized to control sound, if your application requires. Get in touch with one of our design engineers to discuss your project.

 

Cleanroom Terminology: Pass-Through Chambers

Cleanroom Terminology: Pass-Through Chambers

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

What is a pass-through chamber?

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

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

What are the benefits of pass-through chambers?

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

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

What kinds of cleanrooms need pass-through chambers?

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

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

Sustainable Design for Cleanrooms

Sustainable Design for Cleanrooms

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

Water Use

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

Fume Hoods

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

HVAC Systems

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

Chilled Beams

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

 

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

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Do You Need A Soundproof Cleanroom?

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

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

Long lead times

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

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

Ignoring your spec

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

Lack of flexibility

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

No quote

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

Poor communication

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

 

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

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Cleanroom Lighting Options Explained

Cleanroom Lighting Options Explained

Lighting is an often overlooked but critical part of the cleanroom design process. A poorly lit cleanroom makes work difficult, and a cleanroom with energy inefficient lighting is not sustainably designed and increases energy costs. When designing a cleanroom, choosing lighting options that work for your application can also help control contamination and promote temperature control. Here are the cleanroom lighting options explained to help you in your cleanroom design project.

 

Lighting types

The first lighting option to consider is the type of lighting to use: incandescent, fluorescent, or LED. The chart below briefly explains how each of these types of lighting work, as well as their costs and benefits.

Incandescent

Fluorescent

LED

Incandescent lightbulbs are the traditional lightbulbs. They contain a capsule inside that holds gas around a wire filament, which went electricity is applied, gives off light. They give off heat as well as light, which makes them an inefficient light source and an energy waster. In fact, incandescent bulbs are banned in several countries. In addition to their inefficiency, the light they give off is often not bright or consistent enough for cleanroom applications.  

Fluorescent lights work by ionizing mercury vapor inside a glass tube, which causes the gas’s electrons to emit UV light, which is converted to visible light by the coating of the glass tube. They’re available in the traditional long tubes as well as compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), which are shaped like incandescent lightbulbs. They are more efficient than incandescent bulbs without being much more expensive and are appropriate for many cleanroom applications.

LED lights, which stands for Light Emitting Diodes, are the most energy-efficient lighting option. They create solid-state lighting by converting electricity directly into light, unlike incandescents and fluorescents. They tend to have a higher initial cost, but their efficiency offsets that cost. LED lighting is often ideal for cleanroom applications, as they do not produce any heat.

 

Also worth considering is natural lighting—you may want to evaluate whether is it possible and practical to incorporate windows into your cleanroom design. Natural light is free, but windows may come with some inefficiencies in terms of temperature control.  

 

Lighting fixture options

There are a variety of fixture options for cleanroom lighting, including

  • Fluorescent ceiling modules — these fluorescent ceiling modules are similar to what you imagine when you picture fluorescent lights: modules that house long fluorescent light tubes. Modules designed specifically for cleanrooms are dust, corrosion, and water resistant and house up to for T8 light tubes.
  • LED light panels — LED light panels provide bright, optimal lighting for cleanroom spaces, without crevices or seams that can house particulate matter or contaminants.
  • LED light strips — LED strips attach directly to the T-bar of the ceiling grid, keeping them out of the way of ceiling filters and allowing for unobstructed air flow.
  • Teardrop lights — teardrop lights are designed for cleanrooms that require whole-ceiling filter coverage, and they minimize obstruction of airflow by hanging down from the ceiling. These are best in cleanrooms with plenty of overhead space since they do hang down from the ceiling.
  • Flow through modules — flow through lighting modules use fluorescent tube lights that are placed directly under the filter system, without blocking airflow. This is a good option when your application requires efficient use of overhead space.

 

No matter the lighting needs of your cleanroom, Angstrom Technology can design a cleanroom that meets all your requirements. Contact us to discuss all the design options for your new cleanroom.