Allied Cleanrooms Blog

Cleanrooms have become vital workspaces over the years in numerous industries that require sealed and controlled work environments. The contaminant-free conditions in a cleanroom will significantly reduce the risk of a product being altered from outside particles through filtration systems that purify the environment. This gives greater product and quality control to various industry users that can span from electronic manufacturers to pharmaceutical drug companies. However, cleanrooms haven’t been around as long as you might think because the first modern cleanroom wasn’t developed until 1960.

The Beginning

ISOMain1-530x530Prior to the modern day cleanroom, controlled workspaces weren’t as efficient as they are today because they used to have problems with air filtration. When particles would infiltrate the sealed environment through the air filters, they would disrupt whatever product was being worked on at the time. This could be anything from a pharmaceutical drug to an electronic processor in which both would be ruined from the foreign exposure. On top of this, the airflow of old cleanrooms was unpredictable which would disrupt the entire environment as a whole.

It wasn’t until 1960 when the modern cleanroom was invented by an American physicist from New Mexico, Willis Whitfield. His development of the improved cleanroom gave manufacturers and researchers a better work environment that lessened the chances of product contamination. Since, cleanrooms have continued to improve with even better filtration technology, air flow and features!

With that said, there are plenty of cleanroom solutions that can give companies the ultimate flexibility when it comes to sealed work environments. For instance, cleanrooms can be manufactured with energy efficiency in mind to reduce energy costs by integrating them with special HVAC systems, eco-friendly lighting and more. On top of that, the construction of cleanrooms has dramatically improved because they can be built off-site, delivered to a facility and then installed without disrupting normal working operations. All in all, cleanrooms have transformed into extremely valuable work environments.

Depending on what industry you’re in, you may find yourself needing to purchase or make use of a cleanroom. A cleanroom is a sealed, controlled space where work can be carried out in controlled, contaminant-free conditions. But how do cleanrooms work? Let’s take a look.

Cleanrooms are used in two main applications:

Electronics manufacturing – Since silicon chips and other electronics components are extremely sensitive, and must conduct electricity perfectly through very small and elaborate systems, dust and other contaminants can ruin them. All computers contain parts made in cleanrooms.

Pharmaceuticals – The production of drugs, as well as other bio science research and manufacturing, must be done in totally contaminant-free environments. This ensures the purity of the substances, as well as patient safety.

Other forms of scientific research and engineering may also use cleanrooms, but these are the most common.

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In order to meet the strict requirements of these industries, cleanrooms make use of a variety of technologies:

Filters for outside air – All air coming into a cleanroom must be thoroughly filtered so that it does not pass contaminants into the protected space. “Contaminants” in this context include dust and tiny particles that are common and completely safe in normal air. At a minimum, HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters are used; in some cases ULPA (ultra-low particulate air) filters are also used to attain the highest level of purity.

Internal recirculation filters – Air within a cleanroom can still pick up particles created by work processes, as well as from tools and furniture/fixtures. Thus, the filtered air within the room is continuously circulated through additional filters to scrub it of internal contaminants.

Climate control – Temperature and (especially) humidity can affect sensitive materials and must be controlled. Air within a cleanroom is kept at a constant temperature and normally at very low humidity levels. Ionic dehumidifiers can be used to avoid contamination from conventional dehumidifiers.

Air pressure – Some processes require positive or negative air pressure, so the pressure within the room can be controlled if needed. Additionally, positive air pressure means that particles in the entrances tend to blow away from the cleanroom and not come in with personnel.

Airlocks – All personnel enter through airlocks, multi-stage airtight sally ports. This allows unfiltered outside air to be drained from the airlock chamber and replaced with filtered “clean” air before they enter. Some airlocks use high-pressure air showers to blast particles off of personnel as they enter.

What does your company use cleanrooms for?

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In the controlled environment of a cleanroom, there is a constant battle against particulates. Specialized clothing and detailed cleaning procedures are put in place to help keep this environment in check. NASA cleanrooms are working on a unique way to keep things clean, and it involves snow.

Using liquid CO2 in a pressurized container, the liquid turns into snow as it is exposed to the air and is used to gently clean surfaces. This snow method is being used in conjunction with the James Webb Telescope to gently clean the delicate lens in the telescope. Want to learn more about this amazing snow? Check out the article over at Smithsonian Magazine.

Cleanrooms aren’t just for satellites, electronics, or medical devices; they are also being used by the E-Liquids industry. The “vaping” industry is growing in leaps and bounds, and it is suspected that FDA regulations regarding the production of e-liquids, or vape juice, are expected to go into effect soon.

In order to be ready for when these FDA regulations are in place, many e-liquids manufacturers are turning towards cleanrooms. This allows a superior product to be created and provide a means to batch and track the e-liquids. Check out this video regarding an Indiana legislative bill that is looking to make cleanrooms law for e-liquids:
WDRB 41 Louisville News

Visit our e-liquids page to learn more about our cleanrooms.