Fan Filter Units and Air Handling Units. What’s the Difference?

Fan Filter Units and Air Handling Units. What’s the Difference?

If you’re considering different options for filtering and treating the air in your cleanroom, you’ve likely come across fan filter units (FFUs) and air handling units (AHUs). What’s the difference, and how can you design a cleanroom filtration system that will offer you the control you need with maximum efficiency? Let’s break down fan filter units and air handling units in more detail.

Fan Filter Units and Air Handling Units: What’s the Difference?

FFUs and AHUs are both used to filter and treat air within cleanrooms and controlled environments. The biggest difference between these systems is their connection with the cleanroom HVAC. 

Air Handling Units

An air handling unit is synonymous with the HVAC system, and acts as a centralized unit for air processing and filtration. When an air handling unit is solely responsible for delivering clean air to the cleanroom, a filter is placed before the plenum and a fan pushes treated air through the filter and into the room.

AHUs can be simple or complex, depending on the needs of the cleanroom. Simple AHUs consist of the HEPA filter, a heating coil, a cooling coil, and a fan to push air through the unit. More complex AHUs also contain a sound attenuator, return fan, relief air section, humidifier, and intakes for outside air and a discharge plenum.

Fan Filter Units

Fan filter units are installed in the cleanroom and can be added or subtracted as needed to reach air cleanliness standards. They are individual units that each deliver filtered air into the cleanroom. Temperature and relative humidity are still controlled by the HVAC unit, but air enters the cleanroom after it’s been filtered through the separate FFUs.

Fan filter units have a simpler construction that is multiplied across the cleanroom to reach peak effectiveness. They consist of a HEPA filter, pre-filter, and a fan to push air through the unit. The more stringent the cleanroom classification, the more fan filter units required to reach particle count requirements. For example, while an ISO Class 8 cleanroom may only require 5-15% of ceiling coverage dedicated to FFUs, ISO Class 3 cleanrooms may require 100% of the ceiling to be dedicated to these powerful filtration units.

Fan Filter Units and Air Handling Units: Putting It All Together

While one system is not inherently better than the other, fan filter units do offer some advantages when used over just an air handling unit alone. 

Drawbacks of Relying on an Air Handling Unit

AHUs deliver fresh, filtered air directly into the cleanroom. Because the entire system is in-house, all filters, heating, and cooling coils are maintained in one, central location. It may seem like a simpler construction, but using AHUs to manage the treatment and filtration of air for an entire cleanroom requires more energy and becomes more inefficient (and expensive) as your ISO class gets lower.

Disadvantages of Relying on an AHU for Filtration

  • Higher Airflow Requires More Power: The entire system pushes air into the cleanroom through one or a few filtered openings, and depending on your cleanroom size and classification, that’s a lot of airflow forced through a limited space. It takes a lot of power to use an AHU to cool and filter air in a cleanroom — especially at lower ISO levels.
  • Inefficient Configuration for Low ISO Cleanrooms: As the ISO class gets lower, there’s more reliance on the AHU and filter to provide clean, cool air for the room. When cleanrooms get more complex and house large or sensitive equipment that generates a lot of heat, it can be difficult to manage heat and ACH with just an AHU.
  • Vulnerable to Filter Loading: AHUs should be run 24/7 to prevent filter loading, which can occur when particles settle and then are forced through filter media when the system is turned back on. Tears and filter loading can reduce filter performance and be difficult to spot and address. 

Why Implement Fan Filter Units in Your Cleanroom

Many cleanrooms, especially those that must support sensitive processes at a lower ISO level, opt for modular construction with fan filter units installed in a grid ceiling. That’s not to say that an air handling system couldn’t do the job just as well, but the easy installation and maintenance of FFUs makes them a more popular, efficient, and cost-effective choice. 

Advantages of Using Fan Filter Units

  • Modular and Customizable: Each filter and housing is an independent system that can be mounted in a modular ceiling grid. FFUs are completely customizable in size, flow rate, and filter options. When designing a cleanroom filtration system with FFUs, you can be as specific as you want to meet your classification, project, and budget requirements.
  • Thorough and Efficient Cleanroom Filtration: Fan filter units are 99.99% efficient with HEPA filters (or 99.9995% efficient when paired with ULPA filters) making them ideal for a variety of sensitive aerospace applications. They also produce less noise than a large AHU.
  • Easy to Modify: Fan filter units are ideal for projects that need room to grow. To meet increased cleanliness requirements, you can simply add more FFUs. With AHUs, this would require a certified contractor to reconfigure the system and run extra conduit.
  • Easy to Maintain: FFUs also present an advantage during maintenance. Self-contained units can be accessed and replaced as needed without having to disable the entire system.

To meet high demands of productivity, having a reliable filtration system that can be easily accessed is a must. And, the higher filtering power means that sensitive applications, such as those working with sensors or fine electronics, are protected from the smallest particles with accuracy and consistency.

If you’re interested in designing a cleanroom that runs at peak efficiency to cut unnecessary costs, get in touch with the cleanroom experts at Angstrom Technology. We’re happy to help design the right airflow pattern and install the solutions that will make your cleanroom cleaner. 

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.

Plastic Industry Cleanroom Design Tips: How to Choose Cleanroom Tables

Plastic Industry Cleanroom Design Tips: How to Choose Cleanroom Tables

When it comes to choosing the right cleanroom furniture for your plastics industry application, you have many options. Cleanroom tables come in a large selection of shapes, sizes, and materials, but not every table is a good fit for your cleanroom. Understanding the difference between common types of cleanroom tables could help you find the best option for your plastics industry cleanroom.

Cleanroom Tables, Workbenches, and Workstations

Cleanroom tables are just one type of surface you can use in your cleanroom. Other similar cleanroom furniture includes workbenches and workstations. What’s the difference? Tables, workbenches, and workstations are often used interchangeably, and the furniture itself could be used to serve a variety of purposes within your cleanroom design, but they do have small differences which could make one a better choice for you.

Workbenches are typically made to withstand a greater weight capacity. Built with sturdy, powder-coated steel frames, these surfaces are great for applications involving manual labor, such as in manufacturing and assembly.

Cleanroom tables are often used for lighter purposes, though not always. Cleanroom tables are versatile pieces of furniture, and can be used to hold equipment, serve as a desk, or a work space for conducting detailed tasks.

Workstations are typically for focused work, assembly of small parts, or as standing desks. They can also be used to support equipment like microscopes or vision systems for quality control. Workstations often have adjustable height options, so the user can decide what’s most comfortable for them.

Types of Cleanroom Tables

Cleanroom tables are made of sturdy materials that won’t shed particles or contribute to contamination of the controlled environment. The most common types of cleanroom tables are laminated, stainless steel and perforated.

Laminated Cleanroom Tables

Laminated cleanroom tables are coated with an epoxy resin or polypropylene to create a non porous, chemical-resistant surface that’s easy to clean and sterilize. These cleanroom tables are great for cleanrooms in ISO Class 5 or greater. Many laminate tables can be made conductive or electrostatic dissipative if the application demands anti-static properties.

Stainless Steel Cleanroom Tables

Stainless steel tables are a popular choice for cleanroom tables because they are easy to clean and sterilize, and are corrosion-resistant and non particle-shedding. These tables will work with any cleanroom classification standard, even the stringent requirements of ISO Class 3.

Perforated Cleanroom Tables

Perforated cleanroom tables are typically made of stainless steel, and offer all the same benefits, but have the added advantage of laser-cut holes across the table’s surface. This allows air to pass through the table without interrupting the cleanroom’s laminar flow or creating turbulence. Perforated cleanroom tables have powder-coated steel bases for great load bearing capacity.

Choosing the Right Cleanroom Table

To choose the best cleanroom tables for your application, you should also consider how you’ll use the furniture, and any other features that would make your work easier. These might include:

  • Size: Consider how you’ll use your cleanroom tables: for working on larger tasks, or small, focused work. Keep in mind that larger tables also take up more space in your cleanroom.
  • Height: Cleanroom tables with an adjustable height feature are ergonomic for employees and can be adaptable to a variety of uses.
  • Storage: Some cleanroom tables have built-in storage in the form of drawers or shelves.
  • Weight-Bearing Capacity: Consider what types of projects your cleanroom is involved in, or the weight of equipment cleanroom tables will be required to support.
  • Anti-Static: Some plastics industry cleanrooms require conductive laminate or electrostatic dissipative materials for cleanroom furniture.
  • Material: Your cleanroom classification will dictate which materials are acceptable within your cleanroom, but it should be a material that won’t corrode, shed particles, or be sensitive to chemicals used for cleaning.

Although there are many options to consider when choosing cleanroom tables, this gives you a great opportunity to find the ideal furniture for your application. If you’re still not sure which table will suit your needs best, talk to the cleanroom design experts at Angstrom Technology. With your industry requirements and cleanroom classification in mind, we can help guide you toward the best tables for your cleanroom design.

How Much Cleanroom Furniture Do I Need?

How Much Cleanroom Furniture Do I Need?

From the layout of your cleanroom to the procedures you follow to keep it clean, every part of your cleanroom’s design is crucial to its function. This also includes the materials and furniture inside its walls that help you create or test your products. 

Furniture inside a cleanroom serves many purposes. It not only provides spaces for you to develop your work or to support the equipment you use, it also provides comfort and support to your employees and controls excess movement that could be detrimental to your processes.

 

Too Much or Not Enough Cleanroom Furniture?

Generally, the fewer things in your cleanroom the better. Any furniture you use should be streamlined to maximize space and to allow for easy movement of people and air. That being said, you should have enough furniture to ensure your workers are comfortable and they have everything they need in the space to work effectively. Constant exiting and reentering of the cleanroom poses a higher risk of contamination than keeping a clean environment with all of the necessary materials already within the room.

 

Planning Your Cleanroom Furniture

When selecting cleanroom furniture, you’ll need to think about how many people you have working in the cleanroom at any given time who need tables to work at and places to sit. You’ll also need to keep in mind the ways your workers will interact with the furniture, pre-planning paths to doors, cabinets and counters. Every good cleanroom design will include a workflow around your furniture that is obvious and efficient.

The cleanroom furniture itself must comply with the needs of your work. It has to meet standards determined by your class type, be sturdy enough to hold any machinery or equipment you need and be able to withstand the chemicals you work with or use for cleaning.

The furniture you include might be specific to your application, but many types of furniture are needed by most cleanrooms: pieces like tables and chairs, countertops and cabinetry, shelves or other types of storage.

 

Surfaces and Work Areas

Almost every cleanroom will require a table or work surface for employees to use for note-taking, performing detailed work or to support equipment. Tables can either be fixed or moveable with casters. Depending on your cleanroom’s design, countertops may be the best work area because they double as storage, but they must be built into the cleanroom itself. Some cleanroom-specific furniture can be designed to be put away when not in use, which frees up a lot of open space in the room.

 

Chairs or Stools

When deciding on seating for your cleanroom, you’ll need to consider space as well as function. Stools take up less room, but chairs might provide more support and comfort to your workers if they have to remain at their stations for extended periods. Cleanroom seating should be ergonomic for workers as well as your space. Selecting adaptable furniture is a great choice because you can adjust settings to have the piece work for different employees or serve multiple purposes within your cleanroom. Multi-purpose furniture also cuts down on the amount of furniture you need to get the job done.

 

Storage Systems

Proper storage in a cleanroom is essential. Your cleanroom’s storage needs may differ if you must have special containers for cleaning supplies or hazardous materials. Having ample and accessible storage in place will help your cleanroom function effectively. Additionally, places to store materials and extra cleanroom furniture you don’t use all the time can help to keep your space clear of obstacles, which further maximizes the efficiency of your space.

Cabinets and shelves are great storage options that are easy to install and keep materials off the floor. They capitalize on vertical space and can help you keep your work areas clutter and contaminant-free.

 

Your Cleanroom Furniture Should Work For You

Knowing all of the pieces that need to come together within the cleanroom will affect the choices you make during its design. Your cleanroom furniture should enable your workers to be comfortable without getting in the way of important processes. Don’t forget to factor in furniture that supports your equipment such as fume hoods, gowning racks or HVAC vents. You should try to have a general idea of what furniture you’ll need prior to construction. Or, if you’re updating your current furniture, look at the space you’re using to determine how much and what kind of furniture works best.

Is it time to furnish your cleanroom, but you’re not sure where to start? As a cleanroom design, service, and installation company, we can help you choose the furniture that’s right for your classification and your budget. Reach out to Angstrom Technology to get started.

Why You Should Hire A Professional for Cleanroom Maintenance

Why You Should Hire A Professional for Cleanroom Maintenance

Cleanroom maintenance is an important aspect of running an efficient and effective cleanroom. Since cleanroom operation can be costly, from the specialized design and construction, equipment, and energy requirements, you may look at maintenance as a place to cut costs by keeping it in house. But there are some good reasons to leave cleanroom installation and maintenance to the pros. Here’s why you should hire a professional for cleanroom maintenance.

 

Professional cleanroom companies have crucial expertise

The company who designed your cleanroom is going to understand it even better than you and your employees do, and will, therefore, be able to perform all necessary maintenance activities with ease and efficiency. Additionally, a cleanroom company that specializes in cleanroom design and maintenance is going to have years of experience that will ensure that all necessary maintenance is performed on schedule and that any issues are identified and addressed in a timely manner.

 

Cleanroom maintenance is more than just equipment testing

Maintaining your cleanroom environment takes more than just equipment testing (which is already a lot, we know). Cleanroom maintenance also includes ensuring that there’s the right setup for the tasks and activities performed in the cleanroom and that all necessary supplies from gowns to testing equipment, are on hand at all times. A cleanroom maintenance provider can ensure that you have all necessary testing supplies in good supply, as well as providing project-specific equipment and storage to meet your application and classification requirements.

 

Cleanroom maintenance is too important to get wrong

If you’re not maintaining your cleanroom properly, you’re going to run into all kinds of issues. This could be failing to meet your desired ISO classification because of particulate contamination, equipment issues, old filters in need of replacement, or other problems. If you’re not adequately maintaining your cleanroom, not only will you fail to meet your classification requirements, which could put you in legal trouble or lose you important clients, you could also be energy inefficient. This is an issue not just because of our responsibility to protect the environment but because energy costs money. And wasting energy by faulty equipment running your cleanroom inefficiently is simply wasting money.

 

Not only do we design and install cleanrooms, we also service them. If your cleanroom is in need of maintenance, contact Angstrom Technology.

 

What Cleanroom Supplies Do You Need?

What Cleanroom Supplies Do You Need?

Designing and building a cleanroom is one thing, but knowing what you need to buy to keep that cleanroom clean and within the environmental controls for your desired cleanroom classification is another. Here’s a quick rundown on some of the supplies you might need for your cleanroom.

The cleanroom supplies that you need will generally depend on your classification. An ISO Class 1 cleanroom will have the strictest cleanliness and gowning procedures, because that is the most stringent classification, whereas an ISO Class 8 cleanroom may require fewer garments with a more infrequent replacement schedule.

Additionally, your industry and the specific tasks and processes performed in your cleanroom will affect the supplies you need. If your process includes the use of hazardous materials, you’ll need more PPE than a cleanroom of the same ISO or Federal Standard 209E classification. Check out our guide to cleanroom classifications for more information on cleanroom classifications and standards here.

General list of cleanroom garments:

  • Hoods
  • Hair Covers
  • Coveralls
  • Intersuits
  • Boots or Shoe Covers
  • Facial Covers
  • Gloves
  • Frocks

General list of cleanroom cleaning supplies:

  • Brushes & Brooms
  • Buckets
  • Mops & Mop Handles
  • Scrub Pads
  • Sponges
  • Squeegees
  • Wringers
  • Disinfectants
  • Detergents
  • Solvents

If you’re designing a cleanroom, get in touch with Angstrom Technology to see how our modular cleanroom designs can work for your application.