What Is a Glove Box in a Cleanroom?

What Is a Glove Box in a Cleanroom?

There are a lot of factors to consider when designing a cleanroom for your facility, from determining the size that will hold all of your equipment, to choosing the ISO classification that ensures the proper amount of cleanliness, and more. 

One of the final decisions you’ll have to make in regards to cleanroom design is what additional features and technologies your cleanroom may require — and cleanroom glove boxes are necessary, and most often required, in specific stringent applications. Below, we’ll explore more about what a cleanroom glove box is, what it’s used for, and under which circumstances you may need to incorporate one into your cleanroom’s design. 

What Is a Cleanroom Glove Box?

A cleanroom glove box is a sealed containment system that provides a controlled atmosphere for handling the contents within. In most cases, cleanroom glove boxes are manufactured with acrylic, static-dissipative PVC, and/or stainless steel, and they include one or more sets of gloves, allowing operators to work with objects while still upholding strict isolation protocols. 

Two Main Types of Glove Boxes

There are several different types of cleanroom glove boxes, but they all generally fall into two broad categories: “isolation” and “containment.” The difference between these two types is based on what you hope to protect, and which type of pressure is needed to protect it. 

  • Isolation glove boxes use positive pressure to isolate sensitive materials from the elements and contaminants in their surrounding environment.
  • Containment glove boxes use negative pressure to protect cleanroom operators from any hazardous materials or substances within the box. 

Glove Box Capabilities and Features

As far as capabilities and features go, glove boxes operate very similarly to your overall cleanroom. They’re typically referred to as your primary engineering control (PEC) and provide ISO 5 classification within the containment system. It’s then placed within the cleanroom, or the secondary engineering control (SEC) which has a lower ISO Classification. They provide an additional layer of isolation and protection — meeting slightly more stringent cleanliness requirements. 

For example, some of the most basic glove boxes capabilities and features include:

  • Exhaust/recirculation connections and control
  • Redundancy
  • HEPA/ULPA filtration
  • 2-4 glove ports (single or dual operator)
  • Air locking
  • Personnel & product protection
  • Differential pressure
  • Mobile or stationary

What Is a Cleanroom Glove Box Used For?

Glove boxes date all the way back to the 1940s, when they were used by the military to research radioactive materials. After that, they started gaining popularity in the medical field as a way to handle viruses and create various medications and vaccines. Today, cleanroom glove boxes’ controlled environments benefit a number of unique applications in a wide range of industries

Which Applications Need Glove Boxes in Their Cleanroom Design? 

The possibilities are truly endless here. You’ll likely see glove boxes in medical, laboratory, pharmaceutical, biological, chemical, and microelectronic cleanrooms most often, but they can also be incorporated into the cleanroom design for any other application that requires them. 

Get the Cleanroom Design Features You Need at Angstrom Technology

Does your cleanroom require a glove box, or some other additional feature or technology? We can help! With years of proven experience, our team at Angstrom Technology is able to design a cleanroom that meets all of your facility’s specifications. Talk to one of our design engineers to get started today.

4 Key Considerations for Cleanroom Design

4 Key Considerations for Cleanroom Design

Installing a new cleanroom in your facility can be an exciting undertaking, but it also comes with a lot of decisions. From creating a design to coordinating the installation, you’ll want to ensure no part of the process goes unnoticed.

Not sure where to start? We can help! Here are a few simple, yet critical factors to consider when designing your cleanroom, so you can set yourself up for a smooth design and installation process and get the most out of your investment. 

4 Key Considerations for Effective Cleanroom Design

While there are many factors to consider when designing your cleanroom, these are the four that our experts at Angstrom Technology have deemed most important to a successful, rewarding project: 

1. Determine Your Project Budget Early

There’s nothing that derails a project quite like paying more than you wanted to. As with any other construction project, determining your budget early on can help you avoid financial stress or hardship later on. It’s important that you work with your cleanroom manufacturer to understand how much your cleanroom may cost based on your unique specifications. In most cases, the following five factors will have the most effect on cleanroom cost:

  • Size – The bigger, the more budget you’ll want to allocate. 
  • TypeHardWall, SoftWall, and RigidWall cleanrooms all have unique features and cost varying amounts. In most cases, you’ll spend more on a HardWall or RigidWall cleanroom than you will a SoftWall cleanroom.
  • Classification – The more stringent your ISO classification, the more fan filter units (FFUs) and equipment it will require, and the more it will cost you. 
  • Design complexity and additional features – If your cleanroom requires extra features like process piping, furniture, static control, or gowning rooms, it will need to accommodate specific design complexities that come at an additional cost. 

2. Consider a Modular Cleanroom for Greater Design Flexibility

Modular cleanrooms are cleanrooms that are constructed with prefabricated components. They perform just like traditionally built cleanrooms, but with labeled components that are precisely pre-cut and pre-finished, they’re faster and easier to install — and require less routine maintenance.

Another big advantage of modular cleanrooms is their unparalleled versatility. They’re built “backward compatible,” which means they can be minimized, expanded, or reconfigured to meet the changing needs of your facility’s operations. This feature makes modular cleanrooms extremely rewarding long-term investments. 

3. Choose the Right ISO Classification for Your Application

Your cleanroom’s ISO classification refers to the maximum acceptable number of particles (by size) in the air, per cubic meter. That said, in order to figure out which classification your application requires, you’ll want to have a good understanding of the particle size you need to filter out. 

Building a cleanroom for a pharmaceutical production line? You’ll likely need to meet more stringent classification standards and filter out even the smallest of particles. Manufacturing basic automotive parts? Your automotive cleanroom is probably better suited for a lower classification standard, but still one that’ll filter out large particles. 

Keep in mind, however, that the more stringent your classification is, the more your cleanroom costs will be. So while building a cleanroom with a higher classification than you actually need won’t do any harm production-wise, it usually doesn’t make financial sense. Find the sweet spot, and stick to the lowest possible cleanroom classification that still meets your application’s requirements. 

4. Understand Your Process Flow

The final consideration you should make while designing a cleanroom that works for you is your process flow. It’s important to understand how your personnel and products will go about entering the room, exiting the room, and everything in between. Establishing this operational protocol will help you decide where the best placements may be for certain work surfaces, equipment, and filtration units, in addition to understanding the space needed for access around these items. 

Perhaps the best way to do this is to create a conceptual drawing of your cleanroom design, insert your intended furniture and equipment, then draw arrows along the intended paths your personnel and products will take. Seeing these things drawn out visually can give you a better idea of how they’ll actually play out once the design is brought to life — and nailing down this operational flow can help accomplish so much in terms of meeting the requirements for optimal cleanroom performance. 

Trust Angstrom Technology to Help with Cleanroom Design

Planning the design for your new cleanroom or redesigning an existing one? Let the experts at Angstrom Technology help. Our design engineers can help you make the tough choices and ensure you receive a cleanroom that’s perfect for your application. Contact us today to learn more. 

How to Choose a Fan Filter Unit for your Cleanroom

How to Choose a Fan Filter Unit for your Cleanroom

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

What Is a Fan Filter Unit?

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

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

How Does a Fan Filter Unit Work?

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

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

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

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

Types of Fan Filter Units: PSC vs. ECM

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

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

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

The Benefits of an ECM Fan Filter Unit

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

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

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

5 Ways to Improve Efficiency in Aerospace Cleanroom Design

5 Ways to Improve Efficiency in Aerospace Cleanroom Design

In the aerospace industry, we’re always looking for ways to improve efficiency in your cleanroom facility. Strategies that help you achieve the same or better results at a lower cost, boost efficiency, either by reducing energy expenditures, lowering operating costs, or improving the working environment for employees to increase productivity. 

Let’s explore 5 ways to accomplish efficiency in aerospace cleanroom design.

#1 Use Adaptable, Modular Cleanroom Construction

If you’re building a new aerospace cleanroom from scratch, modular construction is the most efficient way to get the new, custom cleanroom you need. Modular cleanrooms are prefabricated off-site with all of the features and systems incorporated within your cleanroom design. Each panel arrives prewired and pre-insulated so it can be easily assembled with the rest of the cleanroom, and up and running when you’re ready to use your completed facility.

The best part about modular cleanroom construction is that your space can be reconfigured or modified as your project evolves, or expanded, condensed, or disassembled and moved easily for a cleanroom redesign on a larger scale. This ability makes modular construction much more efficient than building a new cleanroom for every project.

#2 Optimize Your Efficiency: Aerospace Cleanroom Layout

If your cleanroom layout is inefficient, it can hamper productivity, and generate more particles for your cleanroom to remove. By redesigning your aerospace cleanroom and making your layout more efficient, you can improve the environment for your workers and cleanroom classification.

Try to only use as much space as strictly needed so your cleanroom is as compact as possible, while still maintaining room for personnel, equipment, products, and air to move around. With a smaller volume of air to treat and filter, your cleanroom will run more efficiently.

When designing the ideal cleanroom layout, plan out traffic patterns as well as access to storage to ensure frequently used equipment and supplies are located where they can be easily accessed by personnel. This effectively limits unnecessary movement and reduces air turbulence.

#3 Streamline the Airflow Pattern in Your Cleanroom Design

The airflow pattern is one of the most crucial elements of aerospace cleanroom efficiency. It works with your cleanroom layout to ensure there are no spaces of “dead” air or turbulent air that could deposit contaminants or where particles could settle. Once airflow uniformity has been established, you can trust that your cleanroom is always working to keep the environment as clean as possible. 

An expertly-designed airflow pattern will allow your cleanroom filtration system to work most efficiently. It should evenly distribute air from input to exhaust to promote even loading of filters, which not only cleans the air in your space more effectively, but also extends the life of expensive HEPA filters.

#4 Maintain Energy Efficient Cleanroom Systems

One of the best ways to improve efficiency in your aerospace cleanroom design is to choose systems that reduce energy consumption. Finding the right lighting for your facility can help you achieve this goal. Lighting in aerospace cleanrooms needs to provide plenty of illumination for detail-oriented tasks, while conserving energy where possible. LED lighting is not only more efficient than incandescent lighting, but it’s also brighter, more durable, and requires less maintenance. 

Cleanroom filtration is another area where efficiency is key. HEPA and ULPA filters are designed to thoroughly clean the air, but they are made more efficient by hardworking pre filters that remove most of the larger particles before air even reaches the HEPA filter. Because of their increased use, pre filters must be inspected and replaced according to a regular schedule to ensure they are working at peak efficiency.

Another way to maintain efficient cleanroom systems is to monitor your aerospace cleanroom HVAC. Are temperature and humidity levels optimal for your cleanroom classification and comfort? Even slight changes to temperature can make a big difference for efficiency and operational costs. Turning the thermostat up or down a degree can have a significant impact over time.

#5 Schedule Environmental Controls to Conserve Energy

Running your cleanroom at its highest levels all the time may be necessary for critical applications or facilities that conduct work on a constant schedule. But, for facilities that maintain at rest periods, adjusting environmental controls to meet a lower classification level can conserve energy and reduce operational costs.

If you schedule your environmental controls to function at a lower capacity during off times, don’t make the difference between operating levels too drastic. If your cleanroom has to expend more energy to reach a high level of cleanliness again, the practice won’t prove to be more efficient. Instead, opt for an incremental change. This will ensure that your cleanroom is conserving energy, not wasting it.

Looking to make some changes to your cleanroom design to increase efficiency? Call the experts at Angstrom Technology. Our cleanroom engineers will help you find solutions that streamline your operations and save you money.

5 Considerations for Your Plastics Injection Cleanroom Design

5 Considerations for Your Plastics Injection Cleanroom Design

Your new plastics injection cleanroom needs to be a highly efficient machine. Every component should be considered in the design to work together to help you achieve your goals. This includes your cleanroom classification requirements and other needs and wants for your team to be successful.

Let’s explore everything you’ll need to consider when designing your plastics injection cleanroom. Then, you’ll be ready to begin cleanroom construction with the help of a qualified cleanroom engineer and supplier.

#1 Understand Your Plastics Injection Cleanroom Requirements

Before you can design the ideal plastics injection cleanroom, you need to have a thorough understanding of your classification standards and the basic requirements for your project.

Your plastics injection cleanroom classification will inform your cleanroom design in essential ways like: defining the percentage of ceiling coverage of fan filter units required to reach air particle count requirements, dictating the ideal range for temperature and humidity in your cleanroom while in operation, specifying materials that are acceptable for plastics injection cleanroom construction, and more.

Also make note of any industry-specific requirements for your cleanroom, such as the type of equipment and mounting requirements as well as the energy dependencies for the equipment you’ll be using. 

#2 Compare Different Types of Cleanrooms 

For plastics injection cleanrooms, modular construction can deliver the ultimate versatility for any application. There are three main types of modular cleanrooms. While all can reach the classification requirements of plastics injection cleanrooms, you may find that one type better serves your specific project needs.

  • SoftWall Cleanrooms have an extremely flexible design makes them a great choice for many plastics industry applications, particularly those that need room to grow
  • HardWall Cleanrooms allow a high level of control over pressure, static, humidity, and of course, contamination
  • RigidWall Cleanrooms offer more flexibility than HardWall cleanrooms and come in clear, minimalist panels

#3 Determine the Ideal Plastics Injection Cleanroom Layout 

When designing your cleanroom layout, you’ll need to determine the best flow of materials and personnel around mounted equipment and features of the facility that you can’t change. If you’re building your cleanroom in your existing structure, you may need to design your cleanroom layout around structural details, incorporate HVAC inlets and outlets, and utilize light from existing windows, etc.

Your cleanroom layout should be just large enough to accommodate equipment, personnel, air, and paths for them to move, but not too large to create extra space and air you’ll need to pay to filter, heat, and treat. 

Plastics injection molding cleanrooms also typically require extra overhead space to accommodate large equipment such as overhead cranes to service molds and machinery. Extra high ceilings, nonstandard height doors and pass throughs, and a reinforced ceiling grid to support mounted equipment are all considerations for your plastics injection cleanroom design. 

#4 Airflow Pattern Design Matters

Your airflow pattern design is essential to an efficient and effective cleanroom. When clean, filtered air is pumped into the controlled space, it needs a clear path to flow through the room until it is removed. Obstructions and incongruencies can impede airflow uniformity, make your cleanroom inefficient, and risk contamination.

Air balance and positive pressurization can also be considered when designing your airflow pattern, by adding more air into the room than is taken out. 

#5 Work with Cleanroom Engineering Experts Can Design the Ideal Plastics Injection Facility

To design, build, and install the best plastics injection cleanroom, it’s a good idea to seek out the expertise of cleanroom engineers. Working with your cleanroom classification information and your project goals, they can help you get the highest-performing, most efficient cleanroom for your investment. 

For a turnkey cleanroom that checks all of your boxes, trust the experts at Angstrom Technology. Whether you’re updating your current cleanroom, or starting from scratch, we can work with you to develop the cleanroom solution that meets your needs and your budget. Request your free project quote to get started.

The Value of Starting Small: Designing a Cleanroom to Grow With You

The Value of Starting Small: Designing a Cleanroom to Grow With You

If your project needs are subject to change, how do you design a cleanroom that can meet your current and future needs? While it might seem like a good idea to build the most advanced cleanroom right away, it’s generally wiser to start small and upgrade your cleanroom over time if you need to reach a higher level of cleanliness later on. This cleanroom design approach can save energy and lower operational costs — making your work more sustainable and profitable.

Let’s discuss why starting your cleanroom design small can help you meet your current cleanroom classification, easily reach future project goals, and save your facility money in the long run.

Why Start Your Cleanroom Design Small?

If you know your cleanroom will need to meet a more stringent classification standard than required for your current project, you might be wondering, why not build a cleanroom that meets the lowest ISO level I’ll need? 

The extra cushion can ensure that you’re always meeting your cleanliness requirements — but it might not be the smartest choice for your facility, or your budget. Here are three reasons to why starting your cleanroom design small, with the least stringent ISO level, is the smarter choice:

You Can Always Upgrade to a New Cleanroom Classification 

By designing your cleanroom to meet the less stringent requirements, your space will be particularly suited to your initial project. When it’s time to change gears, a cleanroom redesign gives you the chance to assess each system and cleanroom component to see if it’s working for the new purpose of the room. So, while you’re adding more filtration, you can also assess if the layout, equipment, and other special features of your cleanroom are ideally suited for your new project and purpose.

Keeping your cleanroom running at the lower level of cleanliness saves energy and puts less stress on your cleanroom systems, so they can continue to work effectively — and last longer.

Modular Cleanroom Construction is Easily Adaptable

Modular cleanrooms are easy to adapt to fit new project needs. You can expand, condense, or reconfigure wall panels to meet new requirements, accommodate new equipment or a new cleanroom layout.

When it’s eventually time to upgrade, just add more wall panels, modular FFUs, and lighting, and update your airflow pattern to treat the increased volume of air. An experienced cleanroom engineer can help you do this by utilizing your existing space and systems, saving your facility money.

Energy Efficient Cleanroom Design Can Save Your Facility Money

The most important reason you may want to start your cleanroom design small is to reign in your energy usage to make the cleanroom more efficient.

An ISO Class 5 cleanroom requires significantly more power to maintain a controlled environment than an ISO 7 or 8 cleanroom — from the filtering power of your fan filter units to the constant treatment of air by the cleanroom HVAC system, to the flow-through lighting used to illuminate every inch of the space.

By designing your cleanroom to meet the least stringent standard (highest ISO class) you need, you can use less energy and your cleanroom systems don’t need to work as hard to meet air quality requirements, which can save your facility a significant amount of money in daily operating costs.

How to Design a Cleanroom that Grows With You

Start with the basics. Design your cleanroom to meet your needs now, and it will be easy to adapt it in the future if your needs change.

Always Start with Your Cleanroom Classification

Your first priority is always to meet your cleanroom classification requirements. Examine your cleanroom classification for the current project, paying special attention to these three areas. 

  • Allowed particles by number and size
  • Air changes per hour or airflow velocity
  • Percentage of ceiling coverage of fan filter units

From there, you can add and adjust systems in your cleanroom that will effectively reach these levels. If you need to reach more stringent requirements down the road, you’ll want to consider how these three areas can be adjusted by adding more FFUs, upgrading your HVAC system, and so on.

Design a Cleanroom Layout That Can Be Expanded

When designing your cleanroom layout, consider starting with a smaller space to save energy in treating the air for temperature, humidity, and filtration. With less cleanroom to deal with, it will be easier to maintain your cleanroom classification. There’s also less to keep clean — which means less work and maintenance for your staff and systems.

Design your cleanroom in a way that it’s easy to expand. Note areas where you can easily add filtration support or extend walls to create space for more furniture or equipment.

Adapt Your Cleanroom Systems As Needed

Be aware that, if you upgrade your cleanroom, your cleanroom systems may need to adapt to meet a new ISO classification. This could mean a more powerful HVAC to offset the heating of the space from additional equipment, more FFUs to deliver filtered air uniformly throughout the space, or powerful but efficient lighting systems to reach expanded areas.

Every part of your current cleanroom design should be able to serve any new projects — or, be easily upgraded to meet your new requirements with optimal efficiency.

Work with Cleanroom Engineering Experts 

The best way to ensure your cleanroom design can grow with you, is to work with cleanroom experts. Angstrom Technology has the experience to handle your initial cleanroom design and any redesign projects with ease. Our experts will assess your current cleanroom needs and discuss your project goals to help you get the exact cleanroom you need — that works for your new requirements and your budget now, and in the future.

Ready to design an efficient cleanroom that will grow with you? Give Angstrom Technology a call.