Cleanrooms are rooms that are to be kept clean. They are mostly used in the medical device, pharmaceutical, aeronautical, and manufacturing industries, where the slightest contamination can lead to someone getting sick or even dying.
The electrostatic discharge environment refers to the static electricity in a room that can cause damage to sensitive electronics. It can cause damage to medical devices too, which can be hazardous later.
According to Grand View Research, the global market size of cleanroom technology was $4.0 billion in 2020. It is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 5.4% between 2021-2028. The rise in the demand for medical devices with regulatory standards is the major factor in the growth.
You must understand how a cleanroom works to create an effective ESD design plan for your facility. A cleanroom must provide a safe environment for areas with a high risk of ESD or airborne particles due to human activity.
This article discusses how these cleanrooms can be effective in ESD environments.
Minimizing Air Flow
Supply air to the cleanroom should be filtered and cleaned. Supply air should be HEPA filtered before it enters the cleanroom to remove particles larger than 0.3 microns in diameter. When the airflow in the clean rooms is minimized, the ESD effect also reduces.
The importance of keeping the cleanrooms ESD-free becomes even more important when they are meant to manufacture medical devices. It is why medical device cleanrooms are somewhat different and are meant specifically for medical devices.
These medical cleanrooms should be free from ESD, or they will affect the medical devices and cause errors. Even a slight alteration in medical devices due to ESD can be hazardous because it would generate false results and erroneous reports.
Dust entry must be minimized to minimize the ESD effect. To minimize dust, you can use HEPA filters. HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate air, a filter designed to remove tiny particles from the air. The best way to get a good cleanroom is with a HEPA filter.
Just make sure your HEPA filter has a high-efficiency rating and will effectively remove dust from the air. If you don’t have access to one, try using something else, like coffee grounds or sandpaper, so that there is less dust floating around your workspace.
Fortune Business Insights states HEPA filters have low maintenance costs and a 99.995% retention rate. The pharmaceutical industry has the highest use of HEPA filters where sterile preparations are manufactured. In addition, when HEPA filters are used in an ESD environment, they tend to reduce the ESD effect by reducing the dust particles.
Minimizing the ESD Risk
To minimize your risk of ESD, you should:
- Use antistatic floor mats.
- Use antistatic wristbands.
- Wear antistatic gloves when handling sensitive equipment.
- Wear an antistatic apron over your clothing to protect it from static electricity build-up.
- Wear static dissipative footwear wherever there is potential for ESD generation.
Ensure Worker Safety
Ensuring worker safety in an ESD environment is incredibly important, as the risks associated with working in such areas can be severe. Indeed, workers must be aware of these dangers and take care when performing any task that may put them at risk for electrical shock or injury. Follow the steps below to ensure your employees’ safety.
- Wear latex gloves when handling parts or materials susceptible to ESD damage
- Wear insulating footwear while walking on floors that have been cleaned with and exposed to static electricity
- Use caution when working around electronic equipment susceptible to ESD damage
Eliminate Potential Fire Hazards
According to Statista, there were 3800 deaths in the US due to fire. There was an increase in the number of deaths from the previous year, 2020, in which there were 3500 deaths. One of the most common potential hazards in electrostatic discharge environments is fire. It is why it’s so important to have a clean room designed specifically for ESD.
Cleanrooms must be constructed with fire-resistant walls and floors, fire-resistant ceilings, and even doors. The thickness should be at least 20 minutes per inch to withstand up to an hour before allowing smoke or heat from a fire into the room itself.
All electric wiring must comply with UL 486 standards for flame retardance when installed within your cleanroom space. They must also be resistant to short circuits and open flames from nearby sources, such as torches or welding equipment used in other areas of your facility.
Minimize Service Interruptions
One of the biggest challenges for cleanroom maintenance is keeping the cleanroom up and running. To do this, it’s important to minimize service interruptions by regularly inspecting and testing your cleanroom.
If you have a small ESD environment, then cleaning can be done with a mop or vacuum cleaner once every few weeks. However, if you have larger areas with hard floors like carpets or tile, it may require more frequent cleaning,
You must get all the leaks repaired immediately so that water doesn’t damage anything inside the walls of your facility or laboratory area. It could cause serious problems when trying to repair them later.
Reduce Maintenance Expenses
The ESD design of the ISO Class 5 to 8 cleanrooms makes them ideal for assembling delicate and sensitive electronics. Proper care and cleaning allow these rooms to last for years without requiring major repairs. In addition, their ease of operation is another reason why they are so popular among their users.
Cleanrooms can be an excellent choice for ESD environments. Cleanrooms are designed to prevent contaminants from entering and leaving the room and to protect medical devices against contamination during every step of their assembly process.
Cleanrooms are also designed with materials that can withstand static electricity discharges while keeping your products safe from static electricity damage. For example, the walls and ceilings of a cleanroom must be made out of materials like glass or polycarbonate because they’re non-conductive.
The floors can be hardwood or other solid material. These floors need special flooring systems that do not allow charges to build up on them over time if they aren’t properly grounded.