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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5 Advantages of Rigidwall Automotive Cleanroom

5 Advantages of Rigidwall Automotive Cleanroom

RigidWall cleanrooms make an excellent cleanroom option for many industries. Their sleek appearance, excellent control, and customizable features make them especially suited for automotive cleanrooms. Let’s take a look at 5 advantages RigidWall cleanrooms offer your application in the automotive industry.

#1 RigidWall Cleanrooms Have an Attractive, Minimalist Appearance

Compared to other types of cleanrooms, RigidWall cleanrooms may be one of the most attractive. Their clear, flat panels give your cleanroom a sleek, professional look. They look great, and they also serve another important function: Large, crystal-clear panels are perfect for monitoring activities in the cleanroom while minimizing traffic in and out of the controlled environment. They also make an attractive showcase of your work to investors, executives, and visitors.

#2 RigidWall Cleanrooms Offer Excellent Control of the Cleanroom Environment

RigidWall cleanrooms make an excellent choice for many types of automotive cleanroom applications. Their sleek panels provide flawless floor-to-ceiling protection from outside contaminants, and integration with powerful cleanroom systems helps establish a highly controlled environment you can rely on to maintain your cleanroom classifications. 

RigidWall cleanrooms are recommended for automotive cleanrooms with ISO Classes 5-8 standards, which means they can reach incredibly stringent requirements with ease, and be adjusted to conform to your automotive industry standards.

#3 RigidWall Cleanrooms Have Versatile Layout Options 

While not as lightweight or flexible as SoftWall cleanrooms, RigidWall cleanrooms are incredibly versatile and easy to expand, condense, or reconfigure — and even more flexible than HardWall cleanrooms. Because the panels are modular, they can be removed or added with ease, allowing you to grow your operations seamlessly, or reuse the panels for other purposes in your facility. 

If your automotive cleanroom needs space to evolve, RigidWall cleanrooms can offer custom layout options while maintaining strict cleanliness standards. Talk to a cleanroom designer about building a cleanroom that suits your needs now, and in the future.

#4 RigidWall Cleanrooms are Highly Customizable

Building a modular cleanroom doesn’t mean your cleanroom looks like everyone else’s. RigidWall cleanrooms are built to your exact specifications — your cleanroom classification, your industry standards, and your custom requests. Constructing a modular RigidWall cleanroom gives you the freedom to customize your automotive cleanroom as you see fit. 

As part of your cleanroom design, the RigidWall cleanroom is already built to integrate seamlessly with your cleanroom systems and trades like a powerful cleanroom HVAC, multi-stage filtration, and more. From there, you can add special features to your cleanroom design that will ensure success for your automotive cleanroom application, like flow-through lighting modules, security panels, intercom systems, and safety features such as fire suppression and electro-static discharge materials. 

#5 RigidWall Cleanrooms are Easy to Install

RigidWall modular cleanroom panels are prefabricated with the wiring, insulation, and all the customizations your facility needs to be successful. Once designed and built, the cleanroom panels fit together easily and quickly — the speedy turnaround time for a RigidWall cleanroom is one of the great advantages it can offer your automotive cleanroom application. In just 2-3 days, you can have a fully operational, top-of-the-line, beautiful new RigidWall cleanroom for your automotive facility.

RigidWall cleanrooms provide a highly controlled, yet versatile cleanroom environment. Think a RigidWall modular cleanroom is perfect for your application? Let Angstrom Technology design, build, and install it! Our cleanroom experts can build a cleanroom to your exact specifications and cleanroom classification requirements. Give us a call or reach out online to get a quote.

How to Test Your Cleanroom Classification

How to Test Your Cleanroom Classification

Every cleanroom requires periodic testing to make sure it reaches the necessary particle count allowances for its cleanroom classification. A cleanroom is initially certified once it’s built, and then needs to be retested every 6 to 12 months to ensure it continues to comply with stringent requirements for cleanliness and control. Let’s go over what your cleanroom needs to test its cleanroom classification and how you can test your cleanroom yourself using a particle counter.

Cleanroom Classification Testing Requirements

Document ISO 14644-2, Cleanroom Testing and Compliance, stipulates that all cleanrooms regardless of classification level must be routinely tested for quality. Particle count tests must be performed annually for cleanrooms ISO Class 6 and above, or biannually for ISO Class 5 and below.

Other recommended tests for cleanrooms include:

  • installed filter leakage
  • containment filter leakage
  • recovery
  • airflow visualization

Acceptable Particle Count for Your Cleanroom Classification

 

All cleanrooms have different levels of cleanliness they must reach, as outlined in their cleanroom classification. Careful monitoring and adherence to particle counts helps to maintain cleanliness and quality across ISO cleanroom classifications. 

Here are the accepted levels of particles in each ISO class, designated by number and size:

ISO 14644-1 Cleanroom Standards
ClassMaximum Allowed Particles (per m3)
≥0.2 µm≥0.3 µm≥0.5 µm≥1 µm≥5 µm
ISO 12.371.020.350.0830.0029
ISO 223.710.23.50.830.029
ISO 3237102358.30.29
ISO 42,3701,020352832.9
ISO 523,70010,2003,52083229
ISO 6237,000102,00035,2008,320293
ISO 72.37×1061,020,000352,00083,2002,930
ISO 82.37×1071.02×1073,520,000832,00029,300
ISO 92.37×1081.02×10835,200,0008,320,000293,000

 

How to Test Your Cleanroom Classification

Whether your cleanroom requires formal testing every 6 or 12 months, it’s important to know how to test the particle count in your cleanroom to make sure you are reaching the levels set by your cleanroom classification. Let’s go through the steps of how to test your cleanroom classification using a particle counter.

  • Step 1: Determine how many sample locations you need by using the volume of your cleanroom in cubic meters. Many particle counters will calculate this for you after entering in the area of the space.
  • Step 2: Set the particle counter to record particles of a certain size, and specify the maximum count allowed and the minimum volume to be sampled at each location.
  • Step 3: Perform measurements at each sampling location. Depending on the device you’re using to measure particles, for example a handheld particle counter or a freestanding monitoring system, as well as the airflow velocity in your cleanroom, it may take varying amounts of time to collect measurements to the right volume. You may even need to take several measurements per location, after which you can average the totals.
  • Step 4: Once you have collected an average measurement for each sampling location, add the measurements together and divide by the number of locations to find an average for the entire cleanroom. 
  • Step 5: Determine if your cleanroom meets the requirements of your cleanroom classification by consulting the table above using the number you found from your test. If your cleanroom failed, use your findings from each sampling location to determine where your cleanroom requires improvement.

Your cleanroom requires periodic testing to make sure it reaches the necessary particle count allowances and is effectively maintaining a clean, controlled environment. If you’re concerned that your cleanroom is not reaching the required particle count for your ISO class, talk to the cleanroom experts at Angstrom Technology today. We design, build, and install high-quality cleanrooms that can reach and maintain any cleanroom classification, and would be happy to professionally assess yours and help you meet your standards.

Automotive Cleanroom Classifications

Automotive Cleanroom Classifications

Automotive cleanrooms house and facilitate important operations. Automotive parts manufacturing is responsible for developing vehicles that are more complex than ever before, infused with computerized components that allow them to achieve better things like more reliability, fuel efficiency, and advanced sensor technology. Automotive testing is responsible for preventing mass defects and saving millions of lives — as well as millions of dollars in product recalls. 

These operations must be conducted and closely monitored in strictly controlled environments to ensure top quality vehicles and safety ratings for the end consumer. That’s where automotive cleanroom classifications come into play. They regulate the cleanliness of an automotive cleanroom, as well as the degree to which its systems and processes must perform in order to manage quality and consistency throughout the supply chain.

 

 

Automotive Cleanroom Classifications

 

 

The International Standards Organization developed the set of standards by which all cleanroom industries and applications must follow. The ISO document ISO 14644-1 outlines the requirements for all cleanroom environments, including automotive cleanrooms. 

 

ISO Cleanroom Classifications

 

ISO 14644-1 standards are separated into Classes 1-9, where Class 9 is room air and Class 1 is the cleanest possible environment. Different automotive applications must meet different cleanroom classification standards depending on the unique threats they face to cleanliness and safety, but the majority of automotive cleanrooms fall within ISO 14644-1 Classes 5-8.

ISO 14644-1 Classes each have their own defined level of cleanliness outlined by three parameters: particle size and number, hourly air change rate (or airflow velocity), and percentage of ceiling coverage of fan filter units. 

  • Particle Count: the number of particles of a certain size per cubic meter. As the ISO Class decreases in number, more and smaller particles must be filtered out of the cleanroom air using powerful filters.
  • Air Change Rate: how quickly air is removed, filtered, and replaced within the cleanroom. ISO Classes 5 and lower require air to be changed so regularly it is instead expressed as airflow velocity.
  • Ceiling Coverage: the percentage of the cleanroom ceiling dedicated HEPA filter/fan units, or FFUs. Automotive cleanrooms with more stringent particle count requirements must dedicate a larger percentage of the ceiling space to filter coverage.

ISO requirements can change significantly as the Class number decreases. For example, ISO Class 5 automotive cleanrooms are only allowed a maximum particle count of 3,520 at 0.5 microns per cubic meter, compared to the 352,000 microns of an ISO Class 7 or the 3,520,000 of an ISO Class 8 cleanroom. Certain manufacturing processes, such as those working with electronics and microchips, will require a greater level of process control and may come with more stringent ISO standards. 

 

 

Cleanroom Design for Automotive Cleanroom Classifications

 

 

Automotive cleanrooms must be properly designed to maintain a controlled space, monitor environmental factors, and limit airborne and surface contamination to an acceptable degree, in order to reach their automotive cleanroom classifications.

The cleanroom type as well as the systems and features it contains allow this level of control to exist.

Automotive Cleanroom Types

 

To meet the cleanroom classification requirements of automotive cleanrooms, two cleanroom types can be used. These cleanrooms can be designed to be free-standing or integrate with an existing structure, including walls, windows, HVAC and ventilation equipment. 

  • HardWall cleanrooms allow the highest level of control over environmental factors and can conform to even the most stringent cleanroom classifications of ISO Class 1.
  • RigidWall cleanrooms are also an option for most plastics industry cleanrooms requiring a classification of ISO Class 5-8, and feature a minimalist, clear panel design.

The best fit for each application will depend on its specific classification requirements and industry standards. Both will be durable and high-quality, capable of supporting all your automotive projects, equipment, and systems.

 

Automotive Cleanroom Systems

 

Your automotive cleanroom’s air filtration system is responsible for removing particles from the air, keeping the air pure and helping your cleanroom reach stringent ISO Class standards. Also, the cleanroom HVAC is another vital system responsible for controlling environmental factors like temperature, humidity, and pressure.

Automotive cleanrooms also typically require control of static electricity. Uncontrolled static and electrostatic discharge (ESD) can cause defects in your products or even lead to injury of personnel. If required by your application, you can incorporate a static control system and anti-static and ESD-safe materials into your cleanroom design. 

 

Automotive Cleanroom Features

 

Other automotive cleanroom features, such as cleanroom lighting and cleanroom furniture, allow you to run your day-to-day operations smoothly and efficiently. Lighting systems, from standard to flow through modules, work with a variety of cleanroom types and layouts, and save valuable ceiling space for filtration units.

Automotive cleanrooms are designed to include all the essential furniture, storage, workstations, and surfaces your employees need to stay comfortable and productive. The cleanroom design will also incorporate any oversized, industry-specific equipment and create paths for cranes, carts, and other transport equipment. 

Automotive cleanroom classifications are necessary to regulate the manufacturing environment to ensure product consistency and consumer safety, especially in those applications where the presence of contaminants could be a risk to an employee, buyer, or other drivers. Although they require a bit of work to reach, these standards protect your facility and your personnel, and help you create the best parts and products in the automotive industry.

Interested in designing an automotive cleanroom? With Angstrom Technology, you can have a modular cleanroom designed to meet your specific cleanroom classification requirements, built with everything you need to get it running, and assembled on site by our professional installers. To learn more about our modular automotive cleanrooms, give us a call or reach out online.

What are Biotech Cleanrooms?

What are Biotech Cleanrooms?

Biotech cleanrooms are used in a wide range of industries to meet unique needs and project requirements. They can be utilized in a variety of ways, but have to meet strict standards of quality and control. Let’s talk about biotechnology and cleanrooms used to perform its complex applications.

What Are Biotech Cleanrooms?

Biotechnology applies the principles of biology to improve life through the use of plants, animals, and the natural world to enhance food sources, the environment, and human health. Biotech cleanrooms make the study of biotechnology possible by maintaining extremely controlled spaces that allow the science to be the only variable. 

Biotech cleanrooms must often meet stringent cleanroom classifications while also complying with industry-specific regulations for product quality and processes. To better understand the demands and requirements for biotech cleanrooms, let’s explore a few common biotechnology applications.

Biotech Cleanroom Applications

Biotechnology reaches across many fields and industries, but has particularly important applications in medical, agricultural, and environmental fields.

Medical Biotechnology

Many medical cleanrooms can also be biotech cleanrooms, as the two fields often intersect. Medical applications for biotechnology include forensics and diagnostics, vaccinations, and medicinal therapy production and testing. Cleanrooms used to conduct important research such as cancer studies and therapy development, gene therapy, stem cell research, and many other critical applications in health care, all require the extreme control of biotech cleanrooms to mitigate contamination risks for the purpose of study and safety of patients.

Animal and Plant Agricultural Biotechnology

The study of biological processes, especially related to food and food products, are another major application of biotechnology. Agricultural applications of biotech cleanrooms are widespread, and also include the development and testing of agricultural products for non food uses, such as biodegradable materials, biofuel, vegetable oils, etc.

Environmental Biotechnology

Biotechnology is an important field for studying our environment and how human actions affect its quality. Biotech cleanrooms are used to study biological samples, test products for environmental safety, and conduct environmental monitoring and cleaning. 

Biotech Cleanroom Classifications

Because of the delicacy of each of these applications, strict standards must be in place to maintain the cleanest possible environment to conduct tests, develop new treatments, or discover new compounds.

Most biotech cleanrooms must comply with the ISO 14644-1 cleanroom classifications of Class 5 or less. (As the Classes 9-1 descend, the cleanroom must be more and more “clean”, with ISO Class 1 being the strictest standard with the cleanest possible environment.) 

ISO Class 5 is considered to be an extremely stringent classification standard. Most cleanrooms fall in ISO Classes 7 or 8, which require moderate control over particle count and size. They must routinely change the air to cleanse it for particulate matter and regulate other environmental factors like temperature and humidity. ISO Class 5 must do all these things to a higher degree. They only allow a maximum of 3,520 particles 5 µm or larger, and must change the air so many times per hour, the constant flow is described as the air velocity of 40-80 feet per minute. 

Biotech cleanroom classifications exist to hold facilities to a minimum standard of cleanliness to ensure products and processes can exist within the cleanroom with an acceptable level of risk for contamination. Even biotech cleanrooms that meet their classification requirements must be properly outfitted to operate safely, effectively, and efficiently. The difference between an inefficient biotech cleanroom and a high performance biotech cleanroom is an exceptional cleanroom design.

Biotech Cleanroom Design

To achieve the high level of control needed in a biotech cleanroom, the cleanroom design must be flawless, and be outfitted with everything the applications will need to conduct its work without interruption or risk of contamination. The special features of cleanroom design work together to make this possible, including the type of cleanroom and its unique systems, such as filtration, HVAC, and more.

Biotech Cleanroom Type

Biotech cleanrooms require a cleanroom type that is able to achieve the highest level of control, which is why most are HardWall Cleanrooms. HardWall cleanrooms are able to reach all ISO cleanroom classifications — and can even match the demands of Class 1. Biotech HardWall cleanrooms feature seamless wall panels, flooring, and ceiling grid to prevent particles from settling. All components of the cleanroom build are made using non corrosive and non particle-shedding materials, that can withstand thorough cleaning to keep them contaminant-free at all times.

Biotech Cleanroom Systems

The systems within a biotech cleanroom support its everyday functions. They are responsible for keeping the environment clean, controlled, and consistent, and make sure the facility always reaches its stringent cleanroom classifications. A few of these systems include cleanroom filtration, cleanroom HVAC, and cleanroom pressurization.

  • Cleanroom filtration: Filtration in a biotech cleanroom produces a high level of air quality control using multi-stage HEPA filtration and a laminar air flow pattern.
  • Cleanroom HVAC: Biotech cleanrooms often require a powerful cleanroom HVAC system to supply the cleanroom with temperature and humidity-controlled air.
  • Cleanroom pressurization: Some biotech cleanrooms may require pressurization to isolate dangerous substances or fumes, or to protect sensitive processes. Positive pressure cleanrooms and negative pressure cleanrooms have many uses as biotech cleanrooms across a diverse range of industries, from medical research cleanrooms to manufacturing cleanrooms for devices and food products.

Biotech cleanrooms play a very important role in many applications across various industries. To be successful and meet stringent classification requirements, they require a top-of-the-line cleanroom design.

Think a biotech cleanroom is right for your application? Get in touch with Angstrom Technology! We can design, build, and install a biotech cleanroom that complies with your classification requirements and keeps your products and staff protected.

Cleanroom Cleaning Solutions for the Automotive Industry

Cleanroom Cleaning Solutions for the Automotive Industry

As new generations of vehicles get more complex and advanced, new standards for cleanliness must be reached in the manufacturing, assembly, testing, and development of automotive parts and processes. Keeping automotive cleanrooms clean is more than a quality issue — it’s also a safety issue, an environmental issue, and an economical issue.

Let’s take a look at some of the problem areas to assess in your automotive cleanroom with regards to cleanroom cleaning protocols, and a few solutions you can employ in your facility today.

Cleanroom Cleaning Solutions in Automotive Cleanrooms

When it comes to cleanroom cleaning in your automotive cleanroom, take a look at the areas that require the most attention: the surfaces in your cleanroom, the air that fills it, and the equipment and products it contains.

Automotive Cleanroom Surfaces

Surfaces within your cleanroom include the walls, floors, cleanroom tables and furnitures. In automotive cleanrooms, oil or grease spills could not only threaten the quality of your cleanroom but could also create slippery surfaces and a hazardous work environment. Your facility is responsible for maintaining clean surfaces in order to reach your cleanroom classifications, but also to provide a safe area for employees to conduct work, and protect your products from contamination.

Solution: The solution for keeping surfaces within your automotive cleanroom clean is to maintain clean floors by following a schedule with daily sweeping and mopping, and sticking to weekly thorough cleaning and sterilization of all surfaces. Your cleanroom cleaning protocol should be clearly understood by all employees, posted in a visible location in the cleanroom, and regularly reviewed with quality checks.

Automotive Cleanroom Air

In automotive cleanrooms, air quality issues can threaten your products as well as your personnel. If you work in an environment with exhaust and other fumes, proper air quality management is crucial.

Also, modern automotive cleanrooms are responsible for developing and testing parts that are smaller with a larger, more efficient output, more advanced computers and sensors, and other innovations in automotive technology. As parts become smaller and more complex, even the tiniest particles can prove a significant threat to cleanroom operations.

Keeping air quality standards to a strict level is essential for a clean environment. Particle count and size filtration requirements will change depending on the parts your facility handles whether it’s power steering, brakes, or electrical components. While these standards may be provided in your cleanroom classification, you may also need to reach air quality standards for your specific industry or application. 

Solution: To keep your cleanroom air as clean as possible, it’s important to make sure your cleanroom filtration system is working properly to comply with classification standards. Check and replace pre filters as necessary and make sure HEPA filters are effectively reaching particle count and size requirements.

Automotive Cleanroom Equipment & Products

The equipment and products your cleanroom supports must also be regularly cleaned in order to achieve control over the cleanroom environment. Some amount of contamination is unavoidable, as all parts and equipment have holes, crevices, and edges that can’t always be completely cleaned. The goal of cleanroom cleaning is to minimize contamination to an acceptable level where the product quality and consumer safety are not at risk.

Solution: Inspect equipment regularly, and have employees use correct protective equipment to limit contact with equipment and parts. Fortunately, modern cleaning systems are available to clean equipment and the parts you fabricate to remove any residue, debris, and bacteria.

Prioritize Automotive Cleanroom Cleaning

Regular and thorough cleanroom cleaning is the best solution to minimize contamination risks, promote employee safety, and guarantee product quality within your automotive cleanroom. Establish a cleanroom cleaning protocol that fits the needs and cleanliness level of your facility. Make sure all necessary employees are trained in how to properly clean the cleanroom without reintroducing contaminants. Then enforce a cleaning schedule that allows you to easily meet your cleanroom classification requirements.

Cleanroom Design and Cleanroom Cleaning

Your cleanroom design should be able to support a consistently controlled environment and your cleaning protocol, which is why cleanroom design and cleanroom cleaning go hand-in-hand.

All wall and floor surfaces, furniture, lighting, and other cleanroom components should be able to support the chemicals and processes you use to clean your cleanroom. They should be made of materials that are non corrosive and non particle-shedding. The cleanroom should also have plenty of available storage to stow

cleaning supplies and equipment. This will help to limit contamination from entering and exiting the facility each time it needs to be cleaned. 

Finally, the cleanroom should be designed to maintain cleanliness on its own, through proper filtration and a carefully mapped airflow pattern, with surfaces that limit contamination or particle buildup. A properly designed cleanroom will still require cleaning, but the risk of contamination will be significantly reduced.

Have everything you need to keep your automotive cleanroom clean? Angstrom Technology can help! We can help you design a cleanroom that helps your facility stay clean, so you’ll never have to worry about meeting your classification requirements. Give us a call to learn more.