How to Choose a Fan Filter Unit for your Cleanroom

How to Choose a Fan Filter Unit for your Cleanroom

In order to ensure your facility is meeting required cleanliness standards, fan filter units (FFU) are a critical component of your cleanroom design. Let’s explore more about fan filter units: how they work, what types there are, and how to choose the right one for your cleanroom.

What Is a Fan Filter Unit?

A fan filter unit is an independent filtration system mounted in a modular cleanroom ceiling grid that is used in conjunction with an air handling unit or HVAC system. It contains a fan, a pre-filter, and a filter (either HEPA or ULPA). In most cleanrooms, multiple fan filter units are installed in the cleanroom ceiling grid and are designed to provide a consistently treated workspace, minimizing dead zones.

Individual fan filter units can be added and subtracted according to the size and necessary ISO Class regulations. In general, the bigger your cleanroom, and the more stringent your ISO Class, the more fan filter units your cleanroom will likely need.

How Does a Fan Filter Unit Work?

Fan filter units work by continuously pushing clean, filtered air into your cleanroom. Air travels through a pre-filter, through the fan, and then through the HEPA or ULPA filter that treats and filters out airborne particles prior to entering your cleanroom.

When Do You Use a Fan Filter Unit for a Cleanroom?

Fan filter units provide a number of advantages over traditional air handling units. Here are a few reasons you may consider using fan filter units for your cleanroom:

  • Easy to install – Because they are mounted in the cleanroom ceiling grid, fan filter units are easy to install and are easily accessible from within the cleanroom.2
  • Easy to modify – As your facility grows and changes, your filtration system can too. Fan filter units can easily be added into the ceiling grid if you have to meet increased cleanliness requirements in the future.
  • Cost-effective – Fan filter units are generally less expensive than a completely new air system, both in terms of production cost and installation cost.

Types of Fan Filter Units: PSC vs. ECM

While all fan filter units function in generally the same way, there are two types of motors that commonly power a cleanroom FFU: permanent split capacitors (PSC) and electronically commutated motors (ECM). Each motor functions a little differently, providing distinct advantages depending on which option you choose. PSC motors operate at one consistent speed, while ECM motors have a variable speed drive and can adjust speed based on application requirements.

PSC vs. ECM: Which Fan Filter Unit is Right for Your Cleanroom?

Both of these are reliable options, guaranteed to provide the filtration your cleanroom needs. However, ECM units are often the best choice to help you meet your cleanroom goals and maximize treated space.

The Benefits of an ECM Fan Filter Unit

ECM fan filter units are known to be air-treating powerhouses for a range of applications — especially if those applications require varying filtration speeds. Its variable speed drive includes numerous benefits, including:

  • Smooth operation in inconsistent conditions
  • Great durability for big, long-haul projects
  • Energy-saving technology to help you reduce utility costs

Looking for a cleanroom that incorporates high performance filter fan units? Angstrom Technology can design a cleanroom to accommodate any equipment for your application. Contact us today to get started.

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Are Modular Cleanrooms Environmentally Friendly?

Are Modular Cleanrooms Environmentally Friendly?

Manufacturers and production facilities across the nation are on a continuous search for sustainable solutions. Of course, sustainable solutions help production facilities, labs, and fabrication plants do their part in protecting our environment and natural resources, but there’s even more to it than that.

Whether it be an increased focus on corporate social responsibility, a push towards sustainable business incentives, and/or an effort to get ahead of changing environmental restrictions, there’s a lot of value in going green.

The good news for any facility looking to build or install a modular cleanroom? Modular cleanrooms are environmentally friendly. Designed with sustainable technologies and materials, cleanrooms are helping everyone from automotive and aerospace manufacturers to pharmaceutical laboratories go just a little more green. Read on for more details.

3 “Green” Aspects of Modular Cleanroom Design

Modular cleanroom design has always been less wasteful than other construction methods, but over the years, modular cleanroom design has evolved to include more sustainable features. Cleanroom manufacturers and suppliers have taken initiatives to eliminate excess waste, conserve natural resources, and build for long lasting performance. Here, we’ll explore three green aspects of modular cleanroom design:

1. Recycled Air

Modern cleanroom technology uses fan filter units to continuously reuse and recirculate air. Originally, these fan filters were designed to ensure consistent air temperature, humidity, and cleanliness, but they were soon recognized for their sustainable features as well. Instead of the air being disposed of as waste, it’s now recycled, cutting down on environmental impact as less air has to be treated and conditioned to keep your cleanroom clean.

Another consideration: cleanroom air isn’t free. In fact, it can be rather expensive to treat. Therefore, recycling air through a fan filter unit can be a win-win in terms of sustainability and cost savings.

2. Recycled Materials

Modular cleanrooms are built with a lot of recycled materials, drastically reducing their environmental impact during the construction phase. Some frequently-used recycled materials include:

  • Aluminum framework – Aluminum is almost completely recyclable, and most aluminum used in modular construction today is already made from scrap metal. In modular cleanrooms, this environmentally-friendly material is used to construct cleanroom ceiling grids and other supporting foundations.
  • Gypsum board – Gypsum is a sustainable, durable material that can last up to 50 years, and it’s used to form the wall panels of many modular cleanrooms. Though it may not be right for every cleanroom, it’s an environmentally-friendly option should your ISO Class allow for it.

Apart from those materials, there are a few things modular cleanroom manufacturers may do to keep their services environmentally friendly as well. At Angstrom Technology, we use 100% recyclable packaging designed to protect all parts during transportation, and we ensure our systems are delivered ready for installation. This way, there is no dust, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), or construction debris left at the facility.

3. Built for Long-Term Sustainability

Modular cleanrooms are designed for long-term use. They’re highly durable and require very little maintenance, reducing the need for any new replacement materials.

Beyond their durability, modular cleanrooms are also designed to grow with your facility. Modular cleanroom components can be broken down and reassembled easily, making reconfiguration, addition, and relocation of your cleanroom easy processes. As your facility grows and changes, you don’t need to construct an entirely new cleanroom. Save time, money, materials, and even the environment by opting for a modular option you can reconfigure for decades to come.

Why Choose Environmentally Friendly Modular Cleanrooms?

From natural resources to transportation to materials, modular cleanrooms are guaranteed to reduce waste. If you’re looking to build a more sustainable production facility, modular cleanroom components deliver a sustainable solution that will grow with your business and display exceptional performance over time.

If you’re interested in learning more about modular cleanroom design, check out our Cleanroom Design Guide or get in touch with one of the cleanroom design engineers at Angstrom Technology.

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4 Questions to Ask Before Starting Automotive Cleanroom Construction

4 Questions to Ask Before Starting Automotive Cleanroom Construction

There’s a lot of planning involved in automotive cleanroom construction. From layout design to operational components, you need to figure out what you need and how to implement it before you start building.

Many experienced cleanroom designers and engineers have streamlined this process. However, it’s important to be certain that you’ve got all the details in line so you can get production started without any hiccups. From the experts at Angstrom Technology, here’s a checklist of four questions to ask yourself before starting your automotive cleanroom construction project.

1. What Processes Will Be Housed Within My Cleanroom?

Within an automotive cleanroom, there are various applications that ensure automotive parts are produced, cleaned, and packaged safely. Some of these applications include.

  • Research and development
  • Component manufacturing
  • Assembly
  • Testing
  • Packaging

Each of these applications include different manufacturing processes, which also call for differences in humidity, temperature, pressure, and particle contamination. These differences can change the type, design, and level of cleanliness of the cleanroom you choose to construct.

Other process-related elements that could alter your cleanroom plan include: how many personnel access it, how often they access it, and what protective gear they wear when they access it.

2. What Are My Automotive Cleanroom’s ISO Class Requirements?

Automotive cleanrooms are controlled environments where air and surface particle contamination is limited. They’re grouped into various cleanliness classification groups created by the International Standards Organization (ISO). Based on the allowed size and number of particles, rate of air change, and percentage of ceiling coverage with fan filter units, cleanrooms are placed into an ISO Class.

ISO Classes are ranked 1-9, with Class 1 having the most stringent regulations and Class 9 having the most lenient regulations. Most automotive cleanrooms fall into ISO Classes 5-8, but this could vary depending on your application’s specific cleanliness and worker safety requirements. By determining which ISO Class you need, you can make a more informed choice of which type of cleanroom will give you the best results.

3. How Much Space Do I Need for My Automotive Cleanroom?

Your cleanroom will only work if it provides the allotment of space necessary for your application. While some cleanrooms are relatively small in size, automotive cleanrooms occasionally require larger equipment clearances. You’ll want to plan for that ahead of time.

It’s also valuable to keep in mind that cleanrooms are built for long-term use. This means that they’re able to grow and adapt based on your facility’s changing needs. You can add to them, reconfigure them, and relocate them as you need, as long as your changes comply with U.S. building and safety codes. With that in mind, it’s best to plan and design for the space you need now, and have peace of mind knowing you can always expand down the road.

4. What Type of Air Pressure Does My Cleanroom Need?

Cleanroom air pressure is divided into two categories: positive and negative air pressure. Basically, the type of air pressure determines what is being protected by installing a cleanroom.

Positive air pressure is achieved by pumping clean, filtered air into your cleanroom. This makes the air pressure inside your cleanroom greater than the pressure outside of it. It’s meant to protect whatever is inside the cleanroom from being contaminated by the surrounding environment.

Negative air pressure is achieved by filtering air out of the room. This makes the pressure inside your cleanroom lower than the pressure outside it. It’s meant to keep possible contamination from escaping the cleanroom.

Some automotive applications like electronic manufacturing require positive air pressure to ensure products are clean and safe for us. On the other hand, some automotive manufacturing applications, like applying special paints and part coatings, can be harmful to human health. In these situations, you may prefer negative air pressure to ensure those VOCs and harmful chemicals aren’t released into the rest of the facility.

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

3 Biggest Threats to Semiconductor Cleanrooms

3 Biggest Threats to Semiconductor Cleanrooms

Work involving semiconductors requires sensitive processes and a highly controlled environment. While the right cleanroom can help achieve this control and minimize risks, there are still a number of factors that threaten semiconductor cleanrooms

Let’s take a look at how these factors affect the semiconductor industry and how to design cleanrooms to defend against them.

 

3 Biggest Threats to Semiconductor Cleanrooms

 

Humidity, static electricity, and human contamination. Although they may seem harmless when encountered in day-to-day life, in semiconductor cleanrooms, these three factors can pose significant threats to productivity, products, and staff.

 

#1 Humidity in Semiconductor Cleanrooms

 

Many products developed, manufactured, and tested in semiconductor cleanrooms are sensitive to moisture, so control of relative humidity (RH) is crucial. Most semiconductor cleanrooms must maintain RH at 35-65% in addition to temperatures at 70 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.

Even within that range, fluctuating humidity can present many threats — both to productivity and product quality — from inconsistent bake-out times, evaporation of solvents, surface swelling and corrosion, and generally control during production.

To control and maintain RH, semiconductor cleanrooms require powerful HVAC systems to treat the air before it’s filtered into the space. These HVAC systems are often independently dedicated to the cleanroom to minimize risk of contamination.

 

#2 Static Electricity in Semiconductor Cleanrooms

 

Static electricity on a microscopic level is a leading cause for defects of silicon wafers and semiconductors. Static corrupts materials by drawing and adhering fine particles to the products’ surface, which can cause product rejection or failure.

Electrostatic discharge (ESD) can also pose a serious threat to worker safety. When static charges are allowed to build up, they can release suddenly in an uncontrolled manner and harm employees — either through electric shock or involuntary movement. 

Preventing static buildup starts with cleanroom design. Conductive materials are often more effective than insulative materials in sensitive applications like semiconductor cleanrooms. Conductive materials allow electrons to flow quickly away from areas where they could build up and direct them safely to ground.

 

#3 Human Contamination in Semiconductor Cleanrooms

 

Maybe the biggest threat to semiconductor cleanrooms is the human factor. From generating ESD to the tendency to shed contaminating particles, controlling humans in the cleanroom is one of the most challenging aspects of cleanroom design, yet also one of the most essential.

Gowns, gloves, hearing protection, and other PPE work to protect semiconductor processes from the human element, but they also protect workers from dangers in the cleanroom setting in accordance with ANSI and OSHA requirements. These threats include chemical exposure, fumes, static charges, and more. 

Even with a thorough gowning protocol, semiconductor cleanrooms require extra protection against airborne contamination. In addition to powerful HEPA filters in ceiling units, semiconductor cleanrooms may require ULPA filters to capture more and smaller particles, as well as the placement of filters in the make-up air handler and return air handler.

 

Semiconductor Cleanroom Design Considerations

 

The manufacturing and development of semiconductors and related products is highly sensitive and requires every system in the cleanroom to work together in order to comply with strict standards of cleanliness. Most semiconductor cleanrooms fall within ISO Class 5 or cleaner requirements, which means they have some of the most stringent particle count requirements of any other industry.

As factors like humidity, static electricity, and human contamination continue to threaten cleanroom processes and personnel, semiconductor cleanroom design must be able to address each one: using a powerful HVAC system, multi-stage filtration system, and antistatic and conductive materials. 

No matter the environmental factors you need to control, Angstrom Technology can engineer the ideal cleanroom for your application. Let us use our extensive industry experience to guide you through the design process. We can deliver the turnkey cleanroom solution you’ve been searching for. Give our team a call to get started.

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3 Cleanroom Applications that Use Seamless Cleanroom Solutions

3 Cleanroom Applications that Use Seamless Cleanroom Solutions

There are endless types of cleanrooms out there, each with their own cleanroom design, layout, features, ISO classification, and more. With all of the available customizations, each cleanroom application can have a modular cleanroom that is completely tailored to their project needs and goals.

Seamless cleanrooms are a type of modular construction that can be fully customized to any application and built within a facility’s existing structure. They have unique strengths and capabilities that make them ideal for many common cleanroom applications. Let’s take a look at a few industries that use seamless cleanroom solutions to conduct their work.

3 Cleanroom Applications that Use Seamless Cleanroom Solutions

Three common industries that use seamless cleanrooms to provide the ideal, controlled environment for their work are semiconductor , pharmaceutical , and medical device. Let’s take a look at a few of the benefits this cleanroom type offers these diverse applications and why seamless is the perfect cleanroom solution.

Seamless Semiconductor Cleanrooms

Semiconductor cleanrooms require a high level of control during the manufacturing and handling of semiconductors, due to the sensitive nature of the material. They must be able to limit contamination by air and surface particles to an extreme degree, which is why they must comply with ISO 14644-1 Class 5 or lower classification standards. 

Seamless cleanrooms are the best fit for semiconductor applications because their construction prohibits the settling of particles in any crevice where they could build up and contaminate the work in the room. The durable wall panels of a seamless cleanroom are sealed with a resistant shell that won’t corrode or shed particles during cleaning or in case of impact. 

Semiconductor production facilities rely on seamless cleanroom solutions to protect delicate work with fine electronics, silicon wafers, sensors and more.

Seamless Pharmaceutical Cleanrooms

In a pharmaceutical cleanroom, control is key. Even the slightest contamination or stray particle could skew test results, corrupt pharmaceutical products, or put employees at risk. Cleanrooms used in pharmaceutical applications require strict maintenance of air quality protocols. The materials of the cleanroom must be able to withstand thorough and robust cleaning chemicals and procedures without shedding particles or sacrificing environmental control.

Pharmaceutical cleanrooms often use seamless modular construction for the processing and development of beneficial medicines and products. For the critical applications of pharmaceutical research with sensitive substances, a seamless cleanroom solution is able to reach an extreme level of environmental control — protecting both the work and the workers.

Seamless Medical Device Cleanrooms

Medical device cleanrooms require environmental uniformity in order to manufacture, test, and package sensitive devices and medical technology. If particles contaminate medical devices or their packaging during any part of the process, the device could fail and put lives at risk. To avoid this, a seamless cleanroom can be used.

Seamless cleanrooms provide medical device applications with the ultimate control over air and surface particles. With no seams for particles to settle and collect, the cleanroom HVAC and filtration system can be fully effective at removing particles according to stringent ISO classifications. 

This cleanroom application is also susceptible to static electricity, so a seamless antistatic floor material is often used with a seamless cleanroom solution to prevent charges or sparks from corrupting devices or harming employees.

Seamless Cleanroom Design and Construction

Seamless cleanroom solutions are fully customizable and can be built to any cleanroom classification, which makes them an ideal choice for a wide range of applications. 

Your seamless cleanroom includes integration with your cleanroom systems and trades, such as cleanroom HVAC, filtration, lighting, and more. It can be installed in your existing structure and outfitted with all the special features you need to make your project a success.

If you think a seamless cleanroom would be perfect for your application, give the experts at Angstrom Technology a call. We specialize in seamless cleanroom solutions with modular construction, and we consistently deliver industry-leading cleanrooms across the country. Yours could be next.

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What are Semiconductor Cleanrooms?

What are Semiconductor Cleanrooms?

Semiconductors are used in every computerized device, from household objects like your mobile phone or coffeemaker, to complex machines like vehicles, defense technology, or spacecraft. Semiconductor cleanrooms are used in a wide variety of applications to produce semiconductors, manufacture microprocessor chips from semiconductors, and package semiconductor components and products. 

Let’s dive deeper into semiconductor cleanrooms including some common applications, cleanroom classifications, and cleanroom design features.

What are Semiconductor Cleanrooms?

Before we explore the many features of semiconductor cleanrooms, let’s back up and explore what semiconductors are.

What are Semiconductors?

Semiconductors are made using a glassy, solid material of pure silicon, which is shaped in a molten state and then cut into thin wafers. Semiconductors are prized for their special conductive behavior — which behaves both like a metal and insulator — and are a vital ingredient for manufacturing computer circuitry. 

Since the slightest inconsistency can compromise the production of semiconductors, all semiconductor cleanrooms must comply with strict standards to ensure complete sterility of the manufacturing environment.

Semiconductor Cleanroom Applications

Semiconductors are used in many industries, ranging from manufacturing of computers and devices to the development of military technology and equipment. Quality and purity in semiconductor production is crucial to ensuring success of whatever technology they will aid in powering and controlling — which is why extremely controlled semiconductor cleanrooms are essential.

Semiconductor Cleanroom Classifications

Semiconductor cleanrooms often run 24 hours a day due to the high demand for these valuable computer components. The cleanroom classification must be maintained consistently throughout the process — as any drop below strict standards could have disastrous consequences.

Semiconductor cleanrooms typically must comply with the ISO 14644-1 Class 5 or lower, which stipulates a minimum allowed particle count of 3,520 particles 0.5µm or smaller. They must also meet the requirements of ISO 14644-2 which imposes a quality control system in order to maintain strict classification standards.

Semiconductor cleanrooms likely also have industry-specific requirements depending on their unique application, such as ASTM standards or NASA standards for aerospace applications. These work with the ISO classification system to ensure that the environment is always controlled, and the products that come out of it are of a consistent and enduring quality.

Semiconductor Cleanroom Design

Semiconductor cleanrooms require a robust cleanroom design that helps them reach and maintain strict air quality standards, while allowing for easy movement and workflow. This starts with powerful cleanroom HVAC and filtration systems to condition and circulate the air to remove particles up to the allowed limits. Machines within the cleanroom may each have their own exhaust system which removes unclean air and particles. 

Staff working in semiconductor cleanrooms must also be specially outfitted to prevent any contamination. Some semiconductor cleanrooms may have robotic equipment or special safety protocols in place to protect workers from radioactive processes, toxic chemical exposure, lasers, and magnetic fields.

Semiconductor cleanrooms must be designed to control static, particulate matter, out-gassing, and other sources of contamination and compromising conditions to protect workers and consumers, and to ensure success of the project.

Think a semiconductor cleanroom is right for you? Angstrom Technology can help you design, build, and install the perfect cleanroom for you. Using static dissipative materials for flooring, wall panels, furniture, and more, you can trust that your work and employees will always be protected. Give Angstrom Technology a call for all of your cleanroom needs.

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