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

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.

 

How to Determine Your Cleanroom Design Budget

How to Determine Your Cleanroom Design Budget

Budget: the part of any major project that no one wants to talk about or deal with. Cleanroom design is no exception. Given the very specific and specialized nature of cleanroom design and the unique requirements of each type of cleanroom, it can be difficult to know at the outset of your cleanroom design project what your budget should be. Here are a few things to consider when determining your cleanroom design budget.

 

Type of construction

First of all, are there different types of construction? Yes, when it comes to cleanrooms, you can choose either traditional or modular cleanroom construction. (Read more on traditional vs. modular cleanroom construction here.) Depending on your cleanroom size and application, modular construction may be the more economical choice. If you go the route of traditional construction, you’ll need to include more room in the budget for that.

 

Wall type

For modular cleanrooms, there are a few different wall options, which come at different price points. Softwall cleanrooms are going to have a lower cost than Hardwall or Rigidwall cleanrooms, in most cases. They are a more curtain-like material as opposed to a more traditional wall, which is beneficial for impermanent, small, or lower-classification cleanrooms. However, if your cleanroom must meet a very stringent ISO classification, Hardwall or Rigidwall design may be necessary.

 

Equipment and special features

It comes as no surprise that special equipment and features cost money. If your cleanroom application requires a fume hood, hazardous materials storage cabinetry, a talk-thru panel, a pass-thru chamber, an airlock, an air shower, or any other feature that you wouldn’t find in a normal room, you’ll need to account for that additional cost in your budget.

 

Required classification

As a general rule, the higher the cleanroom class, the higher cost to build and maintain. A biotechnology cleanroom required to meet ISO Class 5 (Fed Std 209E Class 100) standards is going to cost more in terms of materials and equipment, to build and maintain than an ISO Class 8 (Fed Std 209E Class 100,000) storage cleanroom. The higher the classification, the more special features, like those mentioned previously, that the cleanroom will need, the more gowning and personal protective equipment that will be necessary for employees, and the more energy and filters that will be necessary to remove contaminants.

 

No matter your needs and budget, Angstrom Technology can design a cleanroom that works for your application. Get in touch today.

Modular vs Traditional Construction for Cleanrooms

Modular vs Traditional Construction for Cleanrooms

When it comes to building a new cleanroom, the biggest, and possibly first decision you’ll have to make is whether your cleanroom will be modular or traditionally constructed. There are benefits and limitations to each of these options, and it can be difficult to determine the right choice for your cleanroom application. Here’s our take on modular cleanrooms vs traditional construction.

 

Flexibility

For applications requiring flexibility, modular construction is your best bet. Traditional construction can’t be packed up and moved to another location. Nor is it as easy to expand as modular construction where adjustments are minor, such as detaching a few panels and adding more to them. Instead, you have to totally renovate, knocking out walls, etc. Depending on your cleanroom use and classification, you could have a super-flexible Softwall cleanroom, which has impermanent curtain-like walls or a Rigidwall or Hardwall cleanroom, with thicker, more substantial wall panels.

While it might seem like traditional construction is more impervious and more permanent that modular construction, Hardwall and Rigidwall cleanrooms are just as impermeable to contaminants as traditional walls, ceilings, and floors.

 

Cost

Depending on the size, budget, classification, and application of your cleanroom, modular construction may be less expensive than traditional construction. This is especially true of smaller cleanrooms or those that are impermanent. For applications like clean storage, which may require only a small space and adhere to the least stringent cleanroom classifications, a Softwall cleanroom may be the best option, as it typically falls at a lower price point than construction.

 

Installation

While traditional construction can take months from start to finish, modular construction is a much simpler process, as all the components are already manufactured. Instead of having to build walls from raw materials, with modular cleanrooms, the components simply need to be assembled to your specifications. Modular construction can take as little as a few days or weeks to complete, which is crucial to getting your operations up and running as soon as possible.

Additionally, while you’ll always need to hire pros for traditional construction, a modular cleanroom can often be assembled in-plant by your own staff, with the instructions provided by the manufacturer. The manufacturer may even offer installation services at a slight additional cost or as part of a modular cleanroom design package.

 

If you’re designing a cleanroom, get in touch with Angstrom Technology to see how our modular cleanroom designs are the right option for your cleanroom.

Why You Need a Cleanroom Design Company, Not Just a Contractor

Why You Need a Cleanroom Design Company, Not Just a Contractor

When beginning the cleanroom design process, it may seem like the simplest, easiest, most inexpensive route is to design the cleanroom yourself, then hire your general contractor to build it. After all, you’ve worked with your contractor before and trust them. But in reality, cleanrooms are complex, complicated, and delicate environments that require experience and specialized knowledge to design and build—knowledge and experience that cleanroom design companies have that contractors may not.

Cleanrooms have special design features

Cleanrooms are not regular rooms and have special design concerns. They need to be optimized for laminar air flow to control contamination, they need to be made of materials that are low particulate emitters, and they often have special features like air showers and pass thru chambers that must be specially designed to reduce the amount of contamination that enters a cleanroom. A poorly designed or integrated pass-thru chamber or other design feature will defeat your efforts to control your cleanroom environment and increase your energy cost and consumption, which is why you should leave those features to a specialist.

Cleanrooms require special equipment

Not only do cleanrooms have specialized features, they also require special equipment that must be seamlessly integrated with HVAC, filters, and other systems. Your general contractor might not have knowledge of fume hoods, hazardous material storage, or cleanroom HEPA or ULPA filtration systems, which, if those systems are not installed and integrated properly, could result in contamination or hazardous conditions in your cleanroom

Traditional construction isn’t always the best option

If you hire a contractor to build a room or suite of rooms for you, they’re going to build those rooms. But sometimes, you don’t need a room in the traditional sense—four permanent walls. With cleanrooms particularly, your company’s needs can change as you add or remove equipment, change your processes, or expand your operations.

Modular construction allows you to change your cleanroom when need be. Additionally, certain types of cleanrooms, like storage cleanrooms, may not require the space, control, or rigidity of a traditionally constructed cleanroom, and a softwall cleanroom may suffice. Modular construction can also be more cost-effective than traditional construction because it depreciates at a quicker rate.

We’re cleanroom design experts who design and build custom cleanrooms, not just general contractors. Angstrom Technology can design the perfect cleanroom for your application. Contact us today.