Medical Cleanroom Design Tips: Choosing Cabinetry

Medical Cleanroom Design Tips: Choosing Cabinetry

Choosing cleanroom cabinets requires some thought, as there aren’t clear guidelines for which are best for every cleanroom application. No official certification system exists for cabinetry the way other cleanroom materials are declared safe for use in cleanrooms. It’s important to carefully consider a few factors when making your choice, such as your medical cleanroom classification, what materials are compatible for use within your facility, and how your cleanroom cabinets will be used.

Medical cleanroom cabinets are used for safely storing products and substances to keep them out of the way in a cool, dry environment. You can use cleanroom cabinets for storing various items including:

  • Tools and equipment
  • Biological samples
  • Hazardous substances
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Gowns and booties
  • Industry-specific products

 

Types of Cleanroom Cabinets

Not every cabinet will be compatible with your cleanroom. The ideal cabinet for your application will be functional and space-efficient, and not introduce contaminants into the cleanroom nor allow them to collect on the material. Here are a few common medical cleanroom cabinet materials.

 

Stainless Steel Cleanroom Cabinets

Stainless steel cleanroom cabinets are the most popular style because they function well in many different types of cleanrooms. Great for diverse applications, stainless steel can handle wet or dry conditions and a wide range of temperatures. Stainless steel also has the advantage of being easy to maintain and sanitize. 

These cleanroom cabinets can build up static electricity, so they should be used in a cleanroom where static isn’t a threat, or adapted with a grounding or dissipation system built into the cabinet design. (Tip: For superior corrosion resistance, consider electropolished stainless steel.)

 

Open Wire Shelving

If your cleanroom uses a vertical airflow pattern, you may instead choose wire shelving over cabinets, in order to let the air move freely and limit the collection of contaminants. Either chrome-plated wire or polymer shelving are both great options that are about a third the cost of stainless steel. Open wire shelving is best for cleanrooms that don’t use corrosive agents in operation or for cleaning.

 

Laminate Cleanroom Storage Cabinets

Laminate cleanroom cabinets are an affordable choice for storage in cleanrooms with less stringent requirements. These cabinets are available in a variety of configurations with adjustable shelves. They can be either wall mounted, freestanding, or on casters.

 

Epoxy Cleanroom Cabinets

An epoxy coating can be applied to cleanroom cabinets and surfaces to increase stain resistance. Epoxy cleanroom cabinets work well for wet and dry applications.

 

Polyurethane Cleanroom Cabinets

Polyurethane is another coating similar to epoxy, but with greater chemical resistance. Polyurethane cleanroom cabinets have a smooth surface that is easy to clean and difficult to scratch or chip.

 

Acrylic Cleanroom Cabinets

Clear acrylic cleanroom storage cabinets are great for protecting products, parts, and substances. Using transparent cabinets can limit unnecessary movement in the cleanroom, reducing the risk of contamination.

 

Choosing Cleanroom Cabinets

As an important part of cleanroom design, all storage solutions like cleanroom cabinets and shelves used in a controlled environment must be compatible with cleanroom use and limit contaminant collection. Consider your cleanroom’s airflow pattern when choosing cabinets or shelves and avoid obstructing your HVAC and filtering system. Your cleanroom cabinets should also be able to withstand the materials you use for cleaning without corroding or shedding particles. Finally, if your cleanroom operations or staff are endangered by static electricity, avoid conductive materials unless you have a method to ground charges.

If you’re still not sure which cleanroom cabinets are best for your cleanroom, let Angstrom Technology help. As cleanroom design experts, we can help you choose the option that’s best for your application, and that meets your cleanroom classification. For more help choosing cleanroom cabinets and other furnishings, give us a call or reach out online

How Often Should I Maintenance My Cleanroom?

How Often Should I Maintenance My Cleanroom?

Proper cleanroom maintenance is not only important to keep a cleanroom running efficiently and limit dangerous contamination of processes, but it can also save your company money. Improper cleaning or maintenance of your cleanroom could be costly, even dangerous, and could lead to liability issues — especially in sensitive industries like pharmaceutical cleanrooms, manufacturing of fine electronics, or the development of medical devices. Regular and thorough maintenance keeps a cleanroom in good operational shape and establishes a safe space for employees to work. 

 

The ideal maintenance schedule for your cleanroom will depend on its classification and cleanliness standards. A general recommendation for cleanrooms with an ISO Classification from 1-5 is to schedule semi-annual inspections of their equipment and systems, while cleanrooms with ISO Classification from 6-9 can manage with annual checks. Keep in mind, some components of the cleanroom require more consistent maintenance, such as its filters. 

 

Cleanroom Maintenance Areas

 

Whether your cleanroom follows a strict maintenance schedule on its own or works with an outside contractor, the most important cleanroom maintenance areas include filtration, the HVAC system, and your industry-specific equipment.

 

Air Filtration System 

 

Most cleanrooms use three sets of filters to collect particles from the air. The outermost filters, or pre-filters, require the most maintenance as they are the first line of defense, protecting the innermost — and most expensive — HEPA filters. 

 

Pre-filters can be assessed by checking differential pressure or air outflow velocity. On average, they will need to be replaced 6 times per year. Bag/box filters function as intermediary filters and are generally replaced annually. HEPA filters should be replaced about every three years, but must be checked periodically to ensure that they are functioning properly. All filters should be assessed regularly to determine their effectiveness. 

 

Be aware that your cleanroom’s location can affect the schedule of filter replacement. For example, if your building is located in an area that experiences more air pollution or possible contaminants, such as next to a freeway, railroad track, or factory, it might require more frequent filter checks. You can use air samplers or settle plates to test the air quality within your cleanroom, and make changes to your cleanroom’s filter replacement schedule as necessary.

 

Cleanroom Equipment

 

Your industry-specific cleanroom equipment will likely require regular maintenance to make sure it serves your needs effectively. This may include equipment like fume hoods and boilers, as well as important cleanroom areas like the gowning room and waste-disposal areas.

 

Cleanroom equipment maintenance will require the cleanroom to be shut down, so it is important to plan ahead to minimize disruption. It’s best to bundle cleanroom maintenance tasks together, such as replacing pre-filters while upgrading or repairing the equipment that your cleanroom contains, as well as the furniture that supports it.

 

Cleanroom HVAC System

 

Your cleanroom’s HVAC system should receive regular maintenance to make sure it’s running efficiently. Inefficient HVAC systems use more energy and run a higher risk of failure. When assessing your HVAC system, you should test that it meets all necessary temperature, pressure, and humidity requirements.

 

It’s recommended that you perform cleanroom maintenance on your HVAC system at least twice per year, in the spring and fall. When the climate changes seasonally, different factors of your system will be prioritized, so biannual checks will ensure a smooth and consistent transition throughout the year. HVAC maintenance could include tasks like: cleaning coils and drain lines, checking for gas or fluid leaks, checking that all electrical connections are sound, making sure the fan motor is in peak condition, lubricating any moving parts, checking heating elements, and making sure the thermostat and controls are reading accurately and functioning well.

 

Preventative Cleanroom Maintenance

 

To facilitate or reduce maintenance tasks, you should employ an efficient cleanroom design and follow regular cleaning procedures. 

 

Cleanroom Design

 

Your cleanroom layout should be simple and intuitive, with clear paths for employees to follow to limit particle-shedding. Your cleanroom should have limited access points, ideally just one. Control the selection and placement of furniture within your cleanroom to allow air to move freely and not cause a buildup of contaminants within the space. Having an intentional design minimizes cleanroom maintenance needs and reduces the risk of contamination. 

 

Cleaning Your Cleanroom

 

Regular cleaning is a crucial part of cleanroom maintenance. All cleanrooms should have a regular cleaning schedule to meet class standards and follow proper strategies for sanitization including using the correct cleaning materials for your classification and educating staff about proper cleaning procedure. 

 

Your space should have adequate storage for all cleaning and cleanroom maintenance materials, such as cleaning solutions and supplies, ladders, and appropriate tools. All storage should be cleaned and maintained regularly and be in an accessible place where the possibility of contamination is minimized. 

 

Benefits of Third-Party Cleanroom Maintenance

 

Using an outside contractor for maintenance, equipment service, and cleaning can help establish consistent cleaning and maintenance procedures as well as help to avoid potential problems from doing the work yourself. An outside contractor is:

  • Dedicated to delivering high standards of cleanliness and proper equipment maintenance. Let your employees focus on their work within your cleanroom. Having workers also be responsible for cleaning and maintenance could lead to complacency and a gradual decline in standards.
  • Trained for proper cleanroom maintenance with your industry-specific equipment. Third-party contractors understand the importance of proper cleanroom maintenance and, unlike general janitorial staff, can complete the work with a high degree of efficiency and detail to your class standards. 
  • Quality-assured and accountable. An outside contractor is committed to reaching your cleanroom standards and facilitating a safe work environment for your employees. There is clear documentation that demonstrates completed cleanroom maintenance tasks, which limits your personal liability.

 

An outside contractor will make sure your cleanroom is always meeting its rigorous class standards while being operational and safe for staff. They understand the functions of your unique cleanroom and can help establish a regular cleaning and maintenance schedule to keep things running smoothly.

 

If you’re looking to get your cleanroom on a regular maintenance and service schedule, we can help. Angstrom Technology is happy to put your cleanroom on our service schedule, so you never have to worry about whether you’re meeting your classification or not. Reach out to us online today.

Cleaning your Cleanroom: How Often Should You Have Your Cleanroom Cleaned?

Cleaning your Cleanroom: How Often Should You Have Your Cleanroom Cleaned?

After you’ve dedicated your time and resources to outfit your cleanroom with the best materials and equipment, you want to make sure to maintain an exceptionally clean environment so your cleanroom can function at peak performance. A lot of factors go into making sure your cleanroom is as clean as possible, from the products you use to the staff that use them. No matter what class rating your cleanroom has, cleaning your cleanroom will ensure longevity and improve efficiency.

All cleanrooms require continual maintenance to be able to operate their best. Cleanrooms should be cleaned according to a regular schedule, meeting daily and weekly tasks.

 

Industry Standards Vary

Cleanrooms vary widely in use. Manufacturing cleanrooms don’t have the same functions or standards as pharmaceutical or laboratory cleanrooms. Depending on the industry you’re in, your cleanroom will have a specific layout, ISO rating, and cleanliness standard. Therefore, its cleaning schedule and procedure will also differ. Cleanrooms with higher ISO ratings must be kept at much higher levels of sanitation to reduce the chance of interference of minute particles and contaminants. Conversely, cleanrooms with lower class ratings, while they may be less threatened by certain contaminants or smaller particle sizes, still require regular cleaning to maintain standards and efficiency.

 

Prevention is Key

The best way to keep your cleanroom clean is to follow proper sanitation techniques before entering a cleanroom. These include things like washing and drying hands completely, using sterile and not powdered gloves, following the proper gowning procedure for your ISO class, and making sure that all employees have access to garments and tools that fit them.

In a perfect world, we would prevent contamination by introducing zero contaminants into your cleanroom environment. Of course, this is virtually impossible, which is why regular cleaning and maintenance of your cleanroom and its systems is critical.

 

Cleanroom Cleaning Procedure:

Keeping your workspace clean requires diligent adherence to daily and weekly cleaning tasks. Depending on the strictness of your class standard, more rigorous objectives may need to be added, or these tasks will need to be completed more frequently. Whatever your facility requires, create and follow a cleaning schedule that clearly defines all assignments, making them easy to understand and follow. Here are the general cleaning protocols recommended for broad cleanroom needs.

 

Daily

  • Before shift begins, use a damp mop on floors and vacuum to dry.
  • Vacuum all walls using a HEPA filter vacuum.
  • Wash and wipe dry all windows and pass-throughs.
  • At the end of every shift, wipe down all work areas. This may need to occur more frequently with high class standards.
  • Put away products and supplies between shifts to prevent further contamination.

 

Weekly

  • Mop floors with a cleanroom-specific detergent, distilled water, and a HEPA filter vacuum.
  • Wipe walls with a damp sponge and distilled water, then vacuum dry.

 

As Needed

  • Ceiling should be washed with detergent and distilled water to remove any residue or deposits.
  • Using a damp sponge, wipe off all light lenses.
  • Change sticky mats as soon as you notice wear.

Remember, your specific cleanroom may have specialized cleaning requirements. If you can keep and follow methodical cleaning procedures, you can enhance your cleanroom’s ability to serve you and your facility.

 

Cleaning your Cleanroom: What to Know

It’s important to note that even if you follow a regular cleaning schedule, contaminants call still infiltrate your cleanroom and interrupt your processes. Cleaning your cleanroom is more than just the protocol; it also relies on your products, people, and regular performance checks.

 

Products Matter

Cleaning products that are improperly sterilized or unsuitable for cleanroom use can be a cause of contamination. It’s recommended that you use deionized and distilled water for mopping and wiping surfaces and use only cleanroom-specified cleaning agents. All chemicals and solvents for cleaning must be neutral and non-ionic, and also non-foaming so as to avoid buildup on surfaces over time. High ISO class cleanrooms (ISO level 5-7) often require disinfectants to be sterilized before use, further protecting the cleanroom from any contaminants.

Never use scrubs or rags that could shed or corrode surfaces. Instead, only use woven polyester that is specified for cleanroom use. Employ a mopping system that separates dirty and clean water and will not scratch or contaminate the floor or walls. Follow a mopping protocol that efficiently cleans floors without spreading dirty water over cleaned areas.

It’s also a good practice to bring all materials that will be needed — such as brooms, mops, and cleaning agents — into the cleanroom before beginning to clean. This way, once the process is complete, you only need to exit once, reducing the possibility of contamination.

 

Staff Training

All staff members and janitorial personnel should be well-educated on gowning procedures, environmental sterilization practices, and general equipment maintenance. It is important that they have a thorough understanding of the best methods for maintaining the cleanroom’s class standards.

Staff should also know what to do in case of a spill. Tools and cleaning supplies should be accessible, but not out in the open where cross-contamination could occur. Having guides and cleaning checklists posted visibly in the room will help staff maintain a sanitary environment.

 

Regular Checkups

Even if you’re doing everything right, continue to check your systems and air to monitor their quality and maintain particle levels. Air samplers or settle plates can be used to test for organisms and measure particles per cubic feet.

Additionally, regular checkups of your HVAC system will make sure it is maintaining a steady temperature, level of humidity, and consistently changing air to your ISO specifications.

 

Other Factors

Many other variables can impede the cleaning process. Your cleanroom’s layout should enable a uniform changing of air, free of any obstacles that could interrupt airflow. Furniture, cleaning materials, and even personnel can accidentally block HEPA filters that are responsible for cleaning the air, causing contaminants to build up. Instruct staff to maintain clear airways during cleaning or talk with cleanroom design experts if you’re concerned that your structure is not promoting efficiency.

Your cleanroom’s cleaning needs depend on your specific requirements, ISO rating and level of use of your facility. Keeping a regular cleaning schedule, using cleanroom-specific cleaning agents and properly training staff in sanitization techniques will help you protect your cleanroom environment and boost the efficiency of your facility.

If you’re cleaning your cleanroom, and still not getting the results you want, it might be time for a bit of maintenance. Talk to the experts at Angstrom for help making sure everything in your cleanroom is working the way it should.

Everything You Need to Know About Cleanroom Classifications

Everything You Need to Know About Cleanroom Classifications

Cleanroom classification is both the most important and most complicated aspect of cleanroom design, especially for those who are just beginning their cleanroom design or redesign process. Here are some of the most helpful resources that will tell you everything you need to know about different types of cleanroom classifications to make your cleanroom design project a success.

What You Need to Know About Cleanroom Classifications (link: https://angstromtechnology.com/need-know-cleanroom-classifications/)

What You Need to Know About Cleanroom Classifications is the perfect primer on cleanroom classification. It explains the classification systems, how classification relates to industry and application, cleanroom states, how cleanrooms work, and how to build a cleanroom to meet a specific cleanroom classification. If you’re getting started with your cleanroom project and know nothing about classifications, start here.

Understanding Cleanroom ISO Classes (link: https://angstromtechnology.com/understanding-cleanroom-iso-classes/)

This post explains the ISO classification based on the maximum number of particles in the air by particle size for ISO classes 1 through 8. It also explains why ISO classification is so crucial as a standard for controlling the cleanroom environment.

Frequently Asked Questions about Cleanroom Classifications (link: https://angstromtechnology.com/frequently-asked-questions-cleanroom-classifications/)

All the FAQs about classifications are in this blog post: What classification do I need? How are cleanrooms classified? How does classification affect my budget? How are cleanrooms tested? How often do cleanrooms have to be inspected? etc.

How Does Cleanroom Classification Affect Your Cleanroom Budget? (link: https://angstromtechnology.com/cleanroom-classification-affect-cleanroom-budget/)

Cleanroom classification is so critical to cleanroom design and operation, and maintaining the necessary controlled environment to your classification’s standards requires a lot of intentional design choices, equipment, and electricity. So naturally, your classification will affect your budget. This blog breaks down where some of that additional cost will come from as your cleanroom classification increases.

Angstrom Technology can design a cleanroom to meet any cleanroom classification. Contact one of our expert engineers to get started on your design.

Cleanroom Terminology 101

Cleanroom Terminology 101

If you’re new to cleanrooms, the terminology surrounding them might seem like a foreign language, but it’s crucial to understand in order to design and run an effective cleanroom. Here’s a run-down on the most basic terms you need to know when it comes to cleanroom terminology.

What’s a cleanroom?

A cleanroom is a controlled environment that limits contamination and particles, as well as temperature, humidity, static, and other factors, in some cases. Specialized air circulation and filtration systems filter out particles and contaminants from the air. Cleanrooms can be used in a variety of industries and for a variety of applications, including storage, manufacturing, and testing and analysis. Read more about the various types of cleanrooms here.

What’s classification?

Cleanroom classification is a way of identifying the level of contamination control within a cleanroom. The classes are defined by the number of particles of certain sizes that are present in a cubic foot of air within the cleanroom. Cleanrooms are usually classified to either the ISO standard or Federal Standard 209E. Read more about cleanroom classifications here.

What’s ISO?

ISO stands for International Organization for Standardization, which is an international scientific body that creates standards for organizations for manufacturing, organizational success, and workplace conditions, among other things. ISO has created a standard for cleanroom classification that classifies cleanrooms into eight classes. Read more about the cleanroom ISO standards here.

What’s certification?

Certification is a process of testing and verifying cleanroom environmental controls to ensure that they meet the standard required for the industry and the application. This includes testing of the major components including filters, air flow equipment, HVAC, ionization equipment, etc. Read more about cleanroom certification and validation here.

 

Need to learn more about cleanrooms or need help designing one? Contact the cleanroom experts at Angstrom Technology. For more on cleanroom terminology, check out our cleanroom glossary.

Understanding Cleanroom ISO Classes

Understanding Cleanroom ISO Classes

Cleanroom classification can be confusing, especially when there are multiple standards used in multiple industries and even multiple types of cleanrooms, and when there is overlap in those standards. Here we’ll focus specifically on ISO classes: what they are and why they matter.

What are the ISO classes?

The ISO classification system has eight classes, ISO Class 8 being the least controlled and ISO Class 1 being the most controlled.

Maximum Number of Particles in Air by Particle Size

ISO Class ≥ 0.1μm ≥ 0.2μm ≥ 0.3μm ≥ 0.5μm ≥ 1μm ≥ 5μm
ISO 1 10 2 0 0 0 0
ISO 2 100 24 10 4 0 0
ISO 3 1000 237 102 35 8 0
ISO 4 10000 2370 1020 352 83 0
ISO 5 100000 23700 10200 3520 832 29
ISO 6 1000000 237000 102000 35200 8320 293
ISO 7 352000 83200 2930
ISO 8 3520000 832000 29300

 

Why does ISO classification matter?

Most laboratory and cleanroom applications require a controlled environment. The level of control depends on both the industry and the specific application. Cleanroom classes serve as a standard that can be easily referenced for the required level of environmental control. Additionally, they serve as a standard for certification to ensure that a cleanroom meets the proper level of control for the industry and the specific tasks performed in that cleanroom.

To create a cleanroom that meets your required ISO standard, contact Angstrom Technology. For more on cleanroom classifications and standards, including Federal Standard 209E, check out our guide.