Why Do I Need a Cleanroom for Plastic Injection Molding?

Why Do I Need a Cleanroom for Plastic Injection Molding?

Plastic is used for various tools and applications in everyday life. But where do those plastic components come from, and how are they made? 

Plastic injection molding! Plastic injection molding is the primary method of manufacturing for most plastic tools, packaging, components, appliances, and more. As most professionals in the industry know, plastic injection molding is a complex process that must be conducted in a controlled environment like a cleanroom. Let’s dive deeper into why. 

What Is Plastic Injection Molding? 

Plastic injection molding is a process used to manufacture a variety of plastic parts and devices. It involves placing molten plastic into a metal mold, then allowing it to cool until a solid structure is formed. Plastic injection molding is used for a variety of industrial applications, including (but not limited to): 

  • Medical devices
  • Pharmaceutical packaging
  • Food and beverage packaging
  • Aerospace parts
  • Automotive parts
  • Parts used for the research and development of new products

So why does plastic injection molding need to be done within a cleanroom environment? 

Why Does It Require a Cleanroom?

Well, there are many sensitive applications where contamination can be detrimental to a finished plastic product’s safety and performance. For applications like aerospace and automotive part manufacturing, contamination during the injection molding process could decrease the level of performance. And for applications involving medical devices, food, or other consumables, contamination during the injection molding process could put human lives at risk. 

Therefore, it’s necessary to have a cleanroom that’s designed to reduce the risk of contamination while operators and equipment create these plastic components. Doing so not only ensures great product performance and consumer safety, but also protects you from having to start over and manufacture replacement products — effectively saving you from losses in efficiency and profitability. 

Unique Challenges for Plastic Injection Molding Cleanrooms

The plastic injection molding sector faces a unique set of challenges when it comes to cleanroom design and operations. These challenges are mostly due to the nature of the plastic injection molding process and the specific types of equipment used during it. Here are a few of those challenges you’ll want to consider when planning your own plastic injection molding cleanroom:

  • Minimizing contamination from plastic injection molding cleanroom personnel
  • Minimizing contamination from plastic injection molding cleanroom equipment
  • Accommodating large pieces of plastic injection molding cleanroom equipment, such as mold cranes and mold presses
  • Allowing direct access for overhead mold cranes to enter the cleanroom through ceiling access panels
  • Allowing mold cranes to be grounded outside of the cleanroom at all times (if possible)

How to Design a Safe & Effective Plastic Injection Molding Cleanroom

So how can you design a plastic injection molding cleanroom that operates efficiently and meets all of the criteria above? Here are some tips from our experts:

  • ISO Classification — Most plastic injection molding cleanrooms are ISO Class 7 or 8. However, this can vary depending on your specific application. 
  • Type of Cleanroom — All three types of cleanrooms can be used for plastic injection molding. It’s best to ask your cleanroom manufacturer which is most suitable for your specific application. 
  • Cleanroom Size — There isn’t a minimum or maximum size requirement that your plastic injection molding cleanrooms need to meet. Just make sure it’s big enough to house the large furniture and machinery you’ll be using. Remember, choosing modular construction is a smart idea if you anticipate expanding in the future. 
  • Cleanroom Pressure — Your plastic injection molding cleanroom should operate under positive pressure in order to prevent harmful particles from entering and disturbing your process.
  • Special Equipment — Plastic injection molding cleanrooms house a few unique types of equipment, most importantly mold cranes. In most cases, you will need to consider a ceiling hatch to allow your mold crane, which is a potentially high source of contamination, to be kept outside of your cleanroom. That way, only part of the machine enters your cleanroom for tool/mold changing purposes. Another important decision to make is choosing electric machines instead of hydraulic machines, which can also reduce the amount of contamination that enters the space. 

For an example of what a plastic injection molding cleanroom may look like, check out one of our latest projects here

Work With the Plastic Injection Molding Cleanroom Experts at Angstrom Technology

In order for plastic injection molding applications to be safe, effective, and repeatable, cleanrooms are necessary. If you’re looking to design a plastic injection molding cleanroom of your own, contact our team at Angstrom Technology. We’ll listen to your facility’s specific needs, then provide a turnkey cleanroom solution that meets each one of them.

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How Much Does a Plastics Industry Cleanroom Cost?

How Much Does a Plastics Industry Cleanroom Cost?

In the plastics industry, quality is critical. No matter which industrial application you’re manufacturing for, a controlled cleanroom environment is critical for the efficient production of safe, durable, reliable plastic products. But with all that emphasis on quality and cleanliness, you may be left wondering, how much is all of this going to cost me? 

In this article, we’ll explore the answer to that question. After we discuss what a plastics industry cleanroom consists of, we can discover how much one may cost you, depending on your unique specifications. 

What Is a Plastics Industry Cleanroom?

Plastics industry cleanrooms are used for researching, developing, and assembling plastic components in a controlled, clean environment. Plastic products can be used for a number of industrial applications, so their cleanrooms vary in stringency based on that. For example, if your plastic components are used to make medical devices, you’ll need much more cleanliness regulation than another facility that uses plastic components to make furniture. 

Regardless of the application, there is still some amount of regulation for each of them. This helps ensure the quality of end products and the safety of operators throughout various methods of plastic manufacturing, including:

  • Injection molding – Melted plastic is injected into a set mold, fills the shape, and cools to permanent form. 
  • Extrusion molding – Melted plastic is pushed through a die, then cools in the desired shape. 
  • Rotational molding – Plastic powder is placed into a mold, then rotated until the plastic creates an outer layer with a hollow interior. 
  • Blow molding – Air pressure is used to shape melted plastic around a pre-shaped hollow plastic piece, which creates a cavity where the plastic has expanded around it. 

Changes in temperature, humidity, pressure, or static during any of these processes can result in product defects and failures — potentially wasting your facility’s time and money or putting end consumers at risk of harm. A plastics industry cleanroom mitigates that risk by controlling all the environmental factors you need, to the amount you need them. 

How Much Does a Plastics Industry Cleanroom Cost? 

All that being said, it’s apparent that a plastics industry cleanroom could look like a lot of different things — and the same goes for the cost of that cleanroom. Because of this variation, it can be difficult to get a sense of what your cleanroom may cost before you outline your specific needs to an expert manufacturer. However, there are some key considerations that you can look at to give you a general guideline:

ISO Classification

Plastics industry cleanrooms are regulated by standards created by the International Standards Organization (ISO) — specifically by the ISO 146441-1 standard, which provides the particle count, air change rate, and ceiling coverage requirements for all cleanroom environments. ISO 146441-1 is split into nine separate classes, with 1 being the most filtered air, and 9 being equivalent to regular room air. Most plastics industry cleanrooms require an ISO Class of 7 or 8, but some applications that are more sensitive to contamination may bump requirements up to Class 5 or 6. 

How does this relate to the cost of your cleanroom? The general rule is, the more stringent your cleanroom is, the more equipment it usually requires, and the more it will cost you. 

Type

Another factor that determines your cleanroom cost is your choice between these three types of cleanrooms, which is heavily based on which ISO requirements you need to meet: 

  • SoftWall – Meets ISO Class 5-8 requirements, and is completely versatile and customizable to fit whatever space is needed. 
  • HardWall – Offers the highest level of control over the environment, and can uphold even the most stringent ISO Class 1 requirements. 
  • RigidWall – Meets ISO Class 5-8 requirements, and features a modern, transparent panel design. 

 

In most cases, SoftWall cleanrooms are the most affordable cleanroom option, and you’ll pay extra for the additional structure, control, or design benefits of HardWall and RigidWall types. 

Size

As you can probably imagine, size is the most easily understood factor to account for in terms of cleanroom cost. Simply put, the bigger your cleanroom is, the more expensive it will be. Cleanroom manufacturers usually account for the biggest piece of equipment (in terms of both width and height) that will be stored in it to determine your ideal sizing. 

Design Complexity and Additional Features

The least expensive cleanrooms have basic layouts and no additional features or technologies. However, for many plastics industry applications, this just isn’t feasible. From added equipment, process piping, furniture, static control, access controls, and even attached gowning rooms, your cleanroom will likely need to accommodate specific design complexities that come at an additional cost. 

Get the Most Out of Your Cleanroom at Angstrom Technology

All this being said, it’s important to get the cleanroom you need in order to manufacture, test, assemble, or package products safely and effectively. Budget is an important consideration in the design process, but you need to be sure to make a budget that accommodates all your needs — otherwise, you’ll end up wasting on a space that doesn’t work for you. 

Trying to save on the costs of your cleanroom? Contact one of our experts at Angstrom Technology! Our team of experts will create custom designs to your exact specifications — both for your cleanroom classification and your budget. 

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