Protecting a controlled environment requires a better understanding of cleanroom design
Commercial architects who are designing buildings that integrate cleanroom technologies have a significant responsibility to the safety of the building’s inhabitants, its air quality and the integrity of materials that may reside within. The stakes are high when it comes to a perfect and efficient cleanroom, especially because a flaw in the design can render the cleanroom non-viable. Here are some insights for maximizing the performance of cleanrooms within your next project.
Who Needs a Cleanroom?
A cleanroom is a controlled environment that filters out airborne particulates, such as dust, microbes and aerosols. Additionally, cleanrooms feature carefully controlled temperatures, humidity levels and air pressures.
Typically, these can be found in facilities such as hospitals and clinics, pharmaceutical plants, electronics labs and medical labs. Other applications include cleanroom air showers, semiconductor labs, metrology rooms, testing and infection control rooms, and chemical mixing and packaging centers.
Architects and building professionals who work at any stage of the design, engineering or building of these spaces are tasked with ensuring that the cleanrooms are completely effective.
One of the things you can’t afford to disregard is the decision-making process regarding automatic doors. The automatic door, which allows passage into and out of the cleanroom and is vital in contamination control, is one of the most important parts of the design.
Things to Consider While Designing a Cleanroom
Let’s break down some of the most important factors to take into consideration when choosing a medical or industrial cleanroom door.
Every time the door opens and closes, there is a risk of contamination. Many of the decisions you are making in the door-selection process are about reducing that risk as much as possible.
One way to reduce risk is to control when and how the doors open. You definitely don’t want staff members or technicians to unintentionally open the door by accidentally activating it. You also want the doors to close quickly, as soon as the worker has moved through them.
Cleanroom doors operated largely by handles are typically avoided because they create a lot of opportunities for cross-contamination.
The two standard automatic options are “knowing act” activation, where an individual pushes a button or interacts with a “switch” to open the door, or sensor activation. Sensor activation means that the door opens as soon as a person stands or enters a specific area, triggering the opening (or closing) mechanism.
The ISO classification standards rank cleanrooms at different levels from ISO 1 to ISO 9. The “cleanest” class is ISO 1, and the “least stringent” is ISO 9. That said, even ISO 9 cleanliness standards are much higher than a regular room. Most industries require a cleanroom classification of ISO 7 or ISO 8, although some industries require far higher standards.
Cleanroom doors used in the food and drug industries need to be compliant with the FDA’s Current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP). If a door isn’t compliant with these guidelines, it’s not going to pass inspection. Horton will be able to provide you with information about cGMP compliance on each of their cleanroom doors.
A Quality Seal
When in the closed position, cleanroom doors need to be as airtight as possible. Although total airtightness is not possible with any doorway, a good automatic door will create as much protection as possible.
The specialized seals on quality cleanroom doors allow for effective and easy cleaning. After all, disinfection is often a vital part of cleanroom maintenance.
Typically, the faster a door closes, the better off the cleanroom is going to be. If the door closes quickly, then there is less of a chance of air exchange between the cleanroom and the surrounding environment. It’s also much easier to maintain consistent air pressure when the fast, gliding movement of the door doesn’t create a lot of turbulence.
But not every cleanroom application is the same. Required door speeds can fluctuate. For that reason, Horton cleanroom doors offer adjustable speeds to accommodate specific needs.
Select the Right Material
Because it is the easiest to keep clean, glass is the go-to panel surface, particularly for more restrictive cleanroom environments. Additional material options include stainless steel clad, custom paint or anodized.
Glass and stainless steel are easier to clean and maintain, and they don’t harbor bacteria and dust as easily as other surfaces. You should be on the lookout for doors that minimize cracks, crevices and other surfaces where bacteria, dust and dirt can accumulate and create problems for cleanroom integrity.
For added cleanliness, antimicrobial hardware and paint is available from some door manufacturers, such as Horton Automatics.
Your Door Options with Horton
To meet demanding ISO 3 and ISO 5 classification standards, Horton offers the UltraClean™ Atmospheric I & II automatic sliding door systems for medical and manufacturing cleanroom environments.
These high-performance doors play a critical role in the protection of electronics, patients, visitors and healthcare professionals. Available in custom configurations, these heavy-duty doors are tested to 1,000,000 cycles and are backed by a 2-year warranty. They have a specifiable height of up to 7’ 6” and are available in surface- or transom-mounted.
UltraClean™ Atmospheric I (ISO 3)
- Meets ISO 14644-3 Class 3 Cleanroom applications
- Single slide
- Non- and partial-breakout available
UltraClean™ Atmospheric II (ISO 5)
- Meets ISO 14644 Class 5 Cleanroom applications
- Single and bi-parting slider options
- Non- and partial-breakout available
Shared Features of both the Atmospheric I & II
- Custom paint, anodized or stainless steel clad
- Custom width (Single slide: 7' to 9' or Biparting slide: 8' to 16')
- Specifiable height up to 7' 6"
- Specifiable activation and lock options
- Exclusive mortise-style corner block construction for all door panels
To learn more about UltraClean Atmospheric I & II door systems, find a distributor near you today.