SPONSORED CONTENT: The adoption of clean rooms has allowed for some of the most important and complex experimentation, testing and manufacturing being done today. Without the stringent parameters that clean rooms operate under, it would literally be impossible to for many medical breakthroughs, and technological advances to have been achieved. At the center of much of what occurs in many industries including aerospace, technology, biotechnology, and medicine today is the work that goes on in the highly controlled environments.
Clean room systems are designed and maintained to be fully controlled settings and where specific room elements are manipulated. Specifically, clean rooms allow for the control of the air quality, air pressure, and humidity, to very exacting standards.
In terms of air quality, clean rooms are designed to achieve the lowest levels of environmental pollutants particularly dust, airborne microbes, aerosol particles, and chemical vapors creating a “clean environment” for the desired processes to occur. Regarding air pressure and humidity, both of these variables are also controlled within a clean room, utilizing equipment that is specifically designed for this purpose.
This is accomplished by tightly controlling all of the air entering and circulating in a clean room. Air is continuously recirculated through high-efficiency or ultra-low particulate air filters to remove internally generated contaminants and condition the air to the desired quality.
Clean room systems consist of a mix of specially designed and manufactured components that work together to create the clean room environment. Some of the key components include:
Clean room doors and windows – All doors and windows are made of stainless steel, aluminum and/or PVC and designed to be both efficient and effective at minimizing contaminant creation. They are typically laid flush with cleanroom walls.
Hard and Soft Walls – Clean rooms may contain hard walls that are constructed of stainless steel, glass, acrylic, and polypropylene. Hard wall clean rooms provide a rigid wall structure and a completely enclosed clean room with air vents to exhaust air. These clean rooms hold higher pressure differentials, which is important to provide differing cleanliness levels in different areas.
Soft wall clean rooms use a simpler steel frame structure to support flexible PVC curtains cut a few inches above the floor to provide an exhaust vent. Soft wall clean rooms provide only the lowest of positive pressures. Because these clean rooms offer less control over air flows, temperature and humidity control are normally not provided. Soft wall clean rooms are generally not suitable for complex, multi-room designs and long spans.
Pass-Through Chambers – Avoiding contamination while moving materials in and out of a clean room is challenging and critical. Clean rooms use pass-through chambers for this purpose because they simplify the contamination-free transfer of materials.
Pass through chambers are typically built into a wall in the clean room or may be an entire room itself connected to the clean room containing two sets of doors or hatches on either end of the chamber that cannot be opened at the same time. There is an option and sometimes a necessity to have materials decontaminated and this occurs in the pass-through chamber. Similarly, if a worker needs to be decontaminated, this will also occur in the pass-through chamber.
The clean room is only part of the equation for a successful clean operation. Specific clean room furniture, appliances, and equipment must also be used. Additionally, garments such as frocks, coveralls, gloves, face masks, booties and head covers need to be worn by anyone entering the clean room because people are a major source of contamination.