Updating Your Cleanroom the Right Way

Updating Your Cleanroom the Right Way

Updating your cleanroom can be daunting. After all, there are so many factors that need to be considered when it comes to any change to the cleanroom environment. You have to consider the specification you need to meet, cost, durability, and maintenance requirements of additions or replacements. But investing in installing some smart cleanroom upgrades can really improve the cleanliness, ease of maintenance, efficiency, and ergonomics of your cleanroom space.

LED Lights

LED lighting is a no-brainer when it comes to upgrading your cleanroom. When compared with fluorescent lighting it’s easy to see why: LED lights are very efficient, emit little heat, and require little maintenance, whereas fluorescent lights are fragile and need replacing often. LEDs have the longest lifespan of any commercially available light source, which makes them worth investing in.

LED lighting also beats fluorescent lighting in system efficiency (greater than 50 lumens/watt for LEDs, less than 30 lumens/watt for fluorescents). This is because fluorescent lighting is omnidirectional, emitting light for 360°. Fixture housings are required to redirect fluorescent light to the desired area. LEDs emit light for only 180°, which makes it easy to target light over the desired area–more light actually reaches it.

Panel Repair

If your cleanroom wall panels are damaged, it can be costly to replace them. If the damage isn’t too extensive, it’s possible that panels can be repaired instead of replaced. Repairing damaged panels will improve the aesthetic of your space, but most importantly, it will help maintain the integrity of the cleanroom. Damaged panels could give off particulate matter or allow contaminants to breach the cleanroom.

Vinyl Walls and Ceilings

Vinyl is a smart upgrade for two reasons: cleaning and surface resistance. Vinyl is easy to clean and allows complete removal of particles, in addition to its low particulate emission. Vinyl can also have dissipative or conductive levels of static resistance, making it ESD safe, if that’s something your cleanroom requires.

New Flooring

Due to a variety of factors (gravity, for example), floors are often the dirtiest part of a cleanroom. Just like walls and ceilings, vinyl is also a good flooring choice for the same reasons: chemical resistance, static dissipative or conductive resistance, low particulate emission, and easy cleaning. There are also a variety of other flooring types such as rubber, epoxy coating, urethane, etc., with different characteristics to meet specific purposes. Cleanrooms with heavy vehicle and wear traffic may benefit from ultra-durable rubber flooring, whereas cleanrooms with the need for chemical and stain resistance might require urethane.

There are many ways to spend money while updating your cleanroom, but smart upgrades can help you make the most of your renovations, and your cleanroom. If you’re looking to upgrade your modular cleanroom, be sure to call Angstrom Technology at 888-768-6900 or request a quote online today!

How Much Space Does Your Cleanroom Need?

How Much Space Does Your Cleanroom Need?

One of the most difficult considerations when designing a cleanroom is determining how big or small it needs to be. The goal is to install a cleanroom that is big enough to house operations, but only just. If your cleanroom is considerably larger than you actually need it to be, then you end up wasting a lot of money by keeping that extra space clean as well. If your cleanroom is too small, you won’t reach required production levels and you may not have enough space for all of your machinery. So, how do you decide what your dimensions should be? Here are a few things to take into account:

Clearance

Sure, maybe you have a warehouse with a ton of empty space, but that doesn’t mean you should use all of it for the cleanroom proper. You need to make space allowances for both big HEPA, ULPA, and pre-filters, and you have to consider the installation of the cleanroom itself. Regarding the ceiling, you’ll need at the absolute minimum 6 inches of clearance. Less than that, and you risk starving your filters for air, defeating the purpose of the cleanroom in the first place. We recommend you leave about three feet, if you have the room, to allow for hassle-free changing of your filters. They’re not small, and it will make the job much easier if your employee has a little room to move up there.

When it comes to the walls, we understand that most people like to build against existing walls to conserve space. While this is fine if you absolutely need the space, the installation, and any future maintenance, will be considerably easier if you leave a three-foot perimeter around your cleanroom. This gives you more room to work with, and it makes any future expansions, updates, and even the initial installation go a lot faster.

As a final point on clearance, if you do have a ton of space, it’s important to remember that your cleanroom doesn’t need to take up the entire room. In order to be cost-effective, your cleanroom should be the right size for your operations, and no larger. The more dead space, the more money you pay for no reason.

Machinery

Another key consideration is to estimate exactly how much space any machinery or appliances will take up. If you already have the machinery, we suggest placing it on the floor of your existing area to get an idea of how much space the machines alone will take up, and how far apart they’ll need to be to provide employees safe and convenient access. Any kind of machinery is going to be your biggest factor in determining cleanroom size.

Workers

Once you figure out how much space your machines need, you’ll next have to decide how many workers your operation will require, and how much space they will need to function efficiently within the cleanroom. This should include any workspace required within the cleanroom. If they need to use a table, desk, computer, or chairs, these should all be taken into account when you’re thinking about your cleanroom size. Your employees should have enough room to access the machinery, and comfortably walk from point A to point B, without running into, or interrupting, other workers.

Heat

The final consideration regarding cleanroom space has to do with temperature. While the majority of cleanrooms are modular, any type of cleanroom structure you create will trap heat. This means that if you have a lot of machinery running within the cleanroom or a lot of employees, you may have to factor in a greater amount of space to keep the cleanroom from overheating. Since you can’t – like other rooms – just open a window or door, there has to be enough space built into the design to allow your air conditioner to keep the room at a stable temperature. This is imperative to the function of the cleanroom itself, as well as the productivity of your employees.

It’s also important to note that if you opt for a modular cleanroom, you can always expand along with your production. Modular cleanrooms are highly adjustable, which means you can add on to your existing cleanroom whenever you need the extra space, and if production slows for any reason, it’s relatively simple to bring your cleanroom in a bit. For optimal flexibility, we always advise those in search of a cleanroom to go for a modular option. This way, even if the cleanroom ends up the wrong size, it can easily and affordably be re-fitted for your current business operations.

We hope this helps you determine what size cleanroom you need! If you have any more questions regarding cleanrooms, from installations to maintenance, Angstrom Technology is happy to help. We’ve been in the industry for decades, so we’re confident that we can address any issue you’re having quickly and effectively. Whether you’re interested in a cleanroom, or you just have a few questions, make sure to get in touch. You can call our office at 888-768-6900, or contact us online today!

Teaching Employees Proper Cleanroom Gowning Techniques

Teaching Employees Proper Cleanroom Gowning Techniques

If you have a cleanroom, you probably already know that humans are the biggest source of cleanroom contamination. The fact is that you do need people in the cleanroom to be able to manufacture your product. This means that your employees have to be gowned properly in order to reduce the amount of particles that are released into the air inside your cleanroom. The difficult part is deciding how they should gown, and ensuring that all employees are properly gowned, at all times.

Depending on what type of cleanroom you have, your employee requirements for gowning will be different. In some cases, they may just have to put on a lab coat and goggles, where in others they’ll need a full bunny suit. Generally, these requirement correspond with the level of cleanliness your cleanroom has to meet. The higher the standards, the more gear your employees will have to wear.

Once you know what your employees are required to wear, you can easily design a protocol for them to follow. It’s a good idea to keep a mirror in the gowning station, so employees can make sure garments are properly tucked in. You may also post a picture of someone properly gowned, as a “how to” reference for employees.

Here is a general list of things to consider when teaching employees proper gowning technique, to help you establish a simple, step by step process that your employees can follow every time they enter the cleanroom:

Remember that proper cleanroom attire starts outside the gowning room: Employees should be discouraged from wearing makeup, jewelry, hairsprays or perfumes, as these can all give off unnecessary particles and fumes, endangering the balanced state of your cleanroom.

Consider footwear: It may be a good idea for employees to have shoes dedicated only to the cleanroom, in the interest of minimizing contamination. If employees change shoes before even entering the gowning room, you’re minimizing the amount of dirt and dust particles tracked into the cleanroom.

No food: While this may seem like a no-brainer, make sure you’re reminding employees never to eat in the cleanroom. It may seem like a hassle for them to leave for lunch, and then redo the entire gowning process, but it’s a greater concern to have any kind of food or gum in the cleanroom. It’s a good idea to put up a sign outside the door to remind anyone entering the cleanroom of this rule.

Top to bottom gowning: When you’re developing your gowning protocol, it’s important to know that gowning should be done from top to bottom. That means that employees should start with hoods, then move to tops, then pants, then shoe covers. This method of dressing prevents any particles from falling down to already-gowned pants or booties.

Don’t touch: Employees should be aware that most cleanliness violations happen as a result of a garment being touched by dirty hands, or the floor. You should stress the importance of regularly washing and drying hands and gloves, as well as ensuring that garments do not touch the floor. A good way to minimize these issues is to make sure that surfaces are ultra-clean, and that no-touch washers and dryers are readily available.

Minimize motion: Believe it or not, people emit thousands of particles a minute even when they’re dressed in cleanroom gowning gear, and sitting still. As soon as people begin to move, that number of particles increases exponentially. This is why both your gowning room and your cleanroom itself, should be set up to minimize movement as much as possible.

With these considerations in mind, it shouldn’t be too difficult to come up with a thorough, step-by-step gowning procedure for your employees. Once you design the protocol, it’s important to make sure you train, and retrain it. Your personnel should attend a formal training program, but don’t stop there. Post reminder posters outside the gowning room, and make sure that your employees understand how important the gowning process is to maintaining the standards of your cleanroom. The best way to keep your cleanroom clean is to have a unified program for gowning procedure that everyone follows.

If you’re in need of gowning supplies, or if you’re looking for more information on cleanrooms, give the experts at Angstrom a call! We’ve been in the business for more than 20 years, and design, repair, and supply every kind of cleanroom. At 888-768-6900 we’re here to help answer any cleanroom question.

Cutting Cleanroom Costs

Cutting Cleanroom Costs

Cleanrooms can be expensive, there’s no doubt about it. A cleanroom is a highly technical system that has to be maintained to exact standards, and that maintenance can certainly be expensive. But since you can’t afford to not have a clean room, what are some steps you can take to make the costs a bit more manageable? To be the most efficient, it’s best to start thinking about your costs while you’re still in the planning phase of your cleanroom. Don’t worry if your cleanroom has already been built, because there are plenty of steps you can take to reduce your costs in an existing system as well.

Here are our top suggestions to help you cut your cleanroom system costs, starting with construction, and ending with supply purchasing:

Have a plan: The best thing you can do when installing a cleanroom that stays under budget is to have a strict, defined plan. Make sure you know exactly what’s happening, when it’s happening, and how it’s happening. If you’re building a brick and mortar cleanroom, know how long construction will take, and how long until you’ll be able to start your production. If you’re going with a modular cleanroom, installation shouldn’t be much of an issue, but you should know approximately how long it will take you to get it inspected before you can move in and get started. If you have a construction plan and stick to it, you’re less likely to have any surprises budget-wise.

Size: The size of your cleanroom will have the biggest effect on your budget. The bigger the cleanroom, the more air, filters, and equipment in general it will take to run to standard. That’s why it’s important to know exactly how much space you’ll need. Of course, your cleanroom needs to be comfortably large enough to house your operations, but it’s a good idea to check, and double check exactly how much space you’ll need, so that you don’t end up buying equipment for dead space.

HVAC system: A great way to save money on your cleanroom is to make use of your existing HVAC system. While you’ll have to talk to your contractor about its capabilities, if you can use your existing air for your cleanroom, you’ll save a lot on installation and overall energy costs. Do remember that if you plan on expanding your cleanroom operation over time, you’ll have to make sure your existing HVAC system will be able to support the increased load. Otherwise you’ll have to consider a costly remodel when you do decide to expand.

Pass-through chamber: Not only does this one save money, it’ll save your employees time as well. A pass-through chamber means fewer employees will have to gown to transfer materials and supplies in and out of the cleanroom, which first saves you money on expensive gowning supplies. In addition to that, the more employees in your cleanroom, the more contaminants, and the more times a door opens, the harder your cleanroom will have to work to restore proper air pressure. A pass-through chamber is considerably smaller than a door, and by design prevents your cleanroom from losing much pressure. Not only will a pass-through save your employees time, but your cleanroom will stay cleaner, and will be able to maintain pressure more easily, saving you money on energy costs.

Economical lighting options: Cleanrooms have to be well-lit. People are doing very technical work, sometimes on the tiniest parts. Good lighting does cost money, but you can certainly cut those costs by investing in energy efficient lighting that still suits your cleanroom. One option is installing LED panels. LED lights give off less heat, which reduces your energy cost, and they last five to eight times longer than regular fluorescent bulbs. If you’re worried about lighting panels interfering with laminar air flow, you might also consider LED strips, which are attached directly to the ceiling grid, in between filters so no air flow is interrupted. Since these lights give off less heat and last longer, you’ll save a lot on energy costs in no time.

Prefilters: If you were thinking that pre-filters were an unnecessary cost that would just add to your budget, think again! Prefilters are actually relatively inexpensive compared to HEPA and ULPA filters, and they really cut down on particulate. Since they are placed before HEPA and ULPA filters, they filter out a lot of primary contamination, and can prolong the life of those more expensive units. Though they do have to be replaced more often, you’ll save money in the long run by not having to replace the expensive HEPA/ULPA filters as much.

Training: The absolute best way to cut down on costs is to make sure that everyone that enters your cleanroom knows exactly what’s expected of them, what protocol is, and how the cleanroom needs to be treated. When everyone understands the process, knows how to gown properly, and how to keep the cleanroom clean, it will be much easier and less costly to keep your clean room running properly.

Buy in bulk: A final cost-cutting tip is to buy in bulk. While you may have already thought of it, distributers are coming out with new options all the time, so it’s a good idea to stay up on all the new products available. Any consumable good that your facility uses regularly can generally be bought in bulk, which is a lot cheaper for you, and much more convenient for your employees, as they’re less likely to run out of items that are important to your clean room’s cleanliness.

With more than 20 years experience in designing, installing, repairing and supplying cleanrooms, Angstrom is your first choice for any clean room question. We can design a cleanroom to your exact specifications, and we’re more than willing to make repairs as well. Give us a call at 888-768-6900 or contact us online today!

3 Essential Cleanroom Supplies You Should Always Have on Hand

3 Essential Cleanroom Supplies You Should Always Have on Hand

Whether you’re new to cleanrooms, or you’ve been working with them your entire career, there’s no doubt that they can be a finicky part of your business operation. You have to maintain exact standards, and when your cleanroom is down, so is your company. So, what can you do to make sure your cleanroom is functioning to its required standards at all times?

Though it might sound obvious, keeping it well stocked with necessary cleanroom supplies is the best way to keep your cleanroom performing to standard. Below is a list of the three most important cleanroom supplies you should always have on hand, and why they’re so important:

Replacement Filters

Filters are what keep the air in a cleanroom clean. Without clean filters, your cleanroom has little to no hope of performing to standard. So, it’s good to always have backup filters on hand, both HEPA, ULPA, and pre-filters. But how many should you have?

Prefilters: Depending on the standards your cleanroom has to meet, you probably change your pre-filters once every few months. Every time you change them, you should make sure you have enough replacements to get you through at least one more change. If not, you risk putting your operation behind.

HEPA/ULPA: Same goes for HEPA or ULPA filters. You should have at least one replacement for each operating HEPA/ULPA filter at all times. Though you change these very infrequently, sometimes even years apart, HEPA /ULPA filters much more important than pre-filters. They are responsible for filtering the greatest amount of tiny air particulate, so it makes sense to always have replacements on hand, in case of an emergency.

Gowning Materials

If you regularly order cleanroom supplies, you know that you go through boxes of gowning materials in no time. Hoods, bunny suits, booties, and cleanroom gloves of all varieties, are crucial to your everyday operations. It’s important that your company develop some sort of system so that you never run out of these essential cleanroom supplies.

For example: You may have employees alert the person in charge of ordering cleanroom supplies every time you have less than two weeks worth of a certain gowning material. Whether it’s gloves or cleanroom suits, a good rule of thumb is that when you open the last box of cleanroom supplies, you order another shipment.

Cleanroom Cleaners

While this might sound like common sense, it’s surprising how quickly you can run out of cleaning supplies. Maybe you’ve experienced that feeling of dread when an employee reports and says that there aren’t any more bottles of cleaner. There’s nothing worse than frantically trying to find the right cleaner, and then making sure it gets shipped overnight so your cleanroom can continue to function at standard for the next business day.

Similar to gowning materials, it’s a good idea to have a system in place so that this sort of situation doesn’t happen. Make sure you always have at least one full bottle of any disinfectant or cleaner.

If you are in need of cleanroom supplies, or if you are looking into designing your own cleanroom, give the experts at Angstrom a call at 888-768-6900. We can design a cleanroom that functions to your exact specifications and standards, and we also carry replacement cleanroom supplies!

What’s the Difference Between Positive and Negative Air Pressure Cleanrooms?

What’s the Difference Between Positive and Negative Air Pressure Cleanrooms?

If you’re considering a cleanroom, you’re probably trying to gather as much information as possible. What type of cleanroom is right for you? What industry standards do you have to meet? Where will your cleanroom go? You get the picture. Well, one piece of information that might be useful to you is understanding the difference between positive and negative air pressure cleanrooms. As you probably already know, airflow plays a leading role in keeping your cleanroom to standard, but what you may not have known is that air pressure can have a big effect on that as well. So here’s a broken down explanation of each positive and negative air pressure.

 

Positive Air Pressure Cleanrooms

 

This means that the air pressure inside your cleanroom is greater than the pressure outside of it. This is achieved by pumping clean, filtered air into the cleanroom, generally through the ceiling.

Positive pressure is used in cleanrooms where the priority is keeping any possible germs or contaminants out of the cleanroom. In the event that there was a leak, or a door opened, clean air would be forced out of the cleanroom, rather than unfiltered air being allowed into the cleanroom. This works somewhat similarly to deflating a balloon; when you untie a balloon, or pop it, air rushes out because the air pressure in the balloon is higher than the pressure of the ambient air.

Positive pressure cleanrooms are used primarily for industries where the cleanroom functions to keep the product clean and safe from particulates, like in the microelectronic industry where even the tiniest particle can damage the integrity of the microchips being manufactured.

 

Negative Air Pressure Cleanrooms

 

In a negative air pressure cleanroom, the air pressure in the room is lower than the pressure outside of the room. Generally this is achieved by filtering air out of the room. In most situations, air enters through filters near the floor, and then is sucked out through filters in the room ceiling.

Negative air pressure is used in cleanrooms where the goal is to keep any possible contamination from escaping the cleanroom. Windows and doors have to be completely sealed, and by having a lower pressure, air outside the cleanroom is likely to flow into it, rather than out of it. Think of it like an empty cup that you set in a bucket of water. If you push the cup into the water rightside up, water flows into the cup, because it has lower pressure than the water. The negative pressure cleanroom is like the empty cup here.

Negative air pressure cleanrooms are used in industries that manufacture pharmaceutical products, do biochemical testing, and also in hospitals to quarantine seriously contagious patients. Any air that flows out of the room has to first flow out of a filter, ensuring that no contaminants can escape.

 

dwyer digital differential pressure gauge

 

If you have any more questions regarding negative and positive air pressure cleanrooms, take a look at our Dwyer Digital Differential Pressure Gauge or if you’re looking to purchase a cleanroom for your business, give the experts at Angstrom a call today! We custom design all of our cleanrooms, so that they meet your exact specifications and standards. Call us at 888-768-6900, or contact us online.

 

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