Cleanroom Environments

What is a cleanroom?

Research fields and industries that require a very clean environment to conduct lab experiments and manufacture products use cleanrooms. They are enclosed spaces that minimise the amount of contaminants like bacteria and particles in the air and on surfaces, and can control temperature, humidity, and air pressure. These contaminants would otherwise compromise testing or the quality of manufactured goods. Sources of contamination include people and the equipment and processes used in the facility itself. Producing pharmaceutical drugs and microelectronics, or growing bacteria cultures in Petri dishes, all require cleanroom environments to varying degrees.

These types of rooms are classified depending on the amount and size of particles per cubic metre (m3) of air. The ISO 14644-1 cleanroom classification system accounts for particles from 0.1 µm to 5 µm per m3 and has 9 different classes. The British BS 5295 classification system, on the other hand, measures the amount of particles 0.5 µm to 25 µm in size per m3 and has 4 classes. These classes determine which equipment regulations and codes of conduct are required.

How cleanrooms minimise contamination

Goddard Space Flight Center

Exploring the world’s largest cleanroom

These rooms are used in plenty of industries, from micro-technology to aerospace engineering. The High Bay Cleanroom at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre is the world’s largest, however, and is where the sensitive instruments for the Hubble Space Telescope are assembled, housed, and tested. A speck of dust or fingerprint could result in a failed mission, so workers must follow strict cleanroom guidelines. They must wear a specialised garment system and pass through a number of chambers that rid them of as many particles as possible: one with a sticky floor to remove dirt from shoes, as well as an air shower. The High Bay Cleanroom also uses an entire wall of special high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters, which circulate one million cubic feet of air every minute.

The High Bay Cleanroom has a classification of ISO-7, meaning no more than 352,000 airborne particles sized 0.5 µm or larger can be in a cubic metre of air (human hair is 75-100 µm in diameter). High Bay Cleanroom’s excellent filtration systems and careful guidelines all work to ensure that missions to service the Hubble Space Telescope are a success.

More interesting topics to read about

Two Engineers in Sterile Cleanroom Suits Control Manufacturing Machinery Work

Which products are right for which cleanroom classes?

The equipment used in these rooms is an important source of contamination and using normal everyday items can spell disaster. Different classes require different levels of strictness, so it is important to know which products are allowed.

edding 8011 cleanroom marker black

edding 8011 cleanroom marker

This marker is certified for use in ISO-2 and 3 class cleanrooms. With its metal and label-free design and 0.6mm round nib, the edding 8011 releases a minimal particulate matter such as dust, is water and smudge-proof, and comes with a convenient cap with clip.