What Makes a Cleanroom a Cleanroom?
Everything must be considered in order to make the environment in a cleanroom as easy to maintain as possible.
A cleanroom is a controlled environment where various types of products are manufactured. Cleanroom facilities are used in several industries where even the smallest amount of contamination can affect the quality of the end product, such as with pharmaceutical and semiconductor production.
In every cleanroom the concentration of airborne particles must be controlled to specific limits, which are usually determined by the type of product(s) being manufactured. Contaminants in the air can be generated by people, manufacturing processes, facilities and equipment. In order to maintain the required low levels of contaminants in the air, these microscopic particles must be constantly removed through a process of air circulation and filtration.
1000 Times Cleaner Than Office Air
We can compare the air quality of a common office environment and that of a cleanroom environment to help illustrate the extreme difference between the two. In a typical office space, there are anywhere from 500,000 to 1,000,000 particles with a size of .5 microns or larger in every cubic foot of air. A cleanroom may require that these particles be reduced to 10,000, 1,000 or 100 particles per cubic foot. Some facilities may require the contaminant level to be even less.
A particle .5 microns in size is roughly 200 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair. As small as that is, just one of these invisible particles can cause disastrous results in a cleanroom manufacturing environment. A perfect example of this is the Hubble Space Telescope built by NASA. The billion-dollar project did not function as expected and nearly failed because of a single stray particle that was even smaller than .5 microns.
That main challenge in a cleanroom is maintaining the ultraclean environment once it has been created. Even though cleaning and air filtration is nearly constant, new particles are constantly being introduced into the environment in many different ways.
The materials that make up the facility itself are constantly breaking down and releasing particles into the air. New contaminants can come from paints and coatings, construction materials such as sheetrock or sawdust, air conditioning debris, or spills and leaks.
Every person within a cleanroom is another source of contaminants. Vapors in breath, perfumes and cosmetics, shed skin cells, hair, and debris such as lint from clothing are all potential contaminants that must constantly be removed from the air and the environment.
Tools and Equipment
Necessary equipment used within the cleanroom will also release their share of particles and contaminants into the environment. Particles can be generated from friction and wear on tools, use of lubricants, and use of cleaning equipment like brooms, mops or dusters. Even vibrations caused by normal processes can shake new particulate matter loose from any number of places within the room.
There are three main elements that make up the overall system used to maintain a cleanroom environment.
Cleanroom Architecture - Cleanrooms are designed with their purpose in mind. From the materials used in construction, to the airflow patterns produced by room layout and ventilation system configurations, everything must be considered in order to make the environment as easy to maintain as possible.
Advanced Air Filtration - Effective air filtration is an absolute necessity for maintaining the environment. In most cases, HEPA filters that are specifically designed to remove sub-micron size particles are necessary. Additional filters may also be needed to remove gas and liquid particles that would cause contamination problems.
Cleaning - Regular cleaning procedures must be devised and implemented that will effectively clean the area while also minimizing the amount of new contaminants released into the air through the cleaning process itself.
Camfil Products Make a Difference
In cleanrooms where extremely sensitive production processes require a laminar air flow, where the air moves in parallel streams, Camfil’s patented high-tech filters are the perfect solution, allowing air to pass through the filters at controlled face-velocity.
With more than 50 years of experience and innovation in the air filtration industry, Camfil has the professional expertise to help you analyze and specify your requirements. We have a complete range of filter solutions to satisfy every need. Our high efficiency products are designed to achieve maximum filtrations results, reduce energy consumption, and provide the lowest total cost of ownership in the industry.
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