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Cleanroom production – modular, flexible solutions

There are many situations in which it is vital to exclude the possibility of contamination from even the tiniest particles – not least in (university) research and production in a wide range of sectors. 

For many industries, there is thus no way round the use of a cleanroom – including in semiconductor production, medicine and pharmaceuticals, aerospace engineering and optics. Cleanrooms are categorised in different classes according to the DIN EN ISO 14644-1 standard, which defines the number of particles of a specific size permissible per cubic metre. Current developments are making cleanroom issues more relevant than ever. “Quality standards are rising all the time. We are seeing a growing market interest in cleanroom-compatible products,” says Kevin Haas, Product Manager for “Clean production” at item. While there are many solutions available for equipping cleanrooms, standard systems quickly hit the limits of their usefulness when it comes to meeting the diverse requirements of cleanroom production. There is therefore a demand for suitable components that make it possible to create customised working and production areas. item has a wide range of systems that use a modular building kit principle and are ideal for this purpose, as they can be adapted to clean production with only a few modifications.

An overview of item solutions for cleanrooms

Whether you are looking for specialist machine cabins with integrated Filter Fan Units and air recirculation or work benches for clean production, you will find what you are looking for in the range of products for cleanroom production from item.
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Special work benches for use in cleanrooms

One of the systems suitable for installation in cleanrooms is the Work Bench System. This not only forms the basis for ergonomic and ESD-compliant work benches, but can also serve as the basis for cleanroom solutions. Just a few changes are all that is required to convert a work bench for cleanroom production. For example, the grooves of the aluminium profiles used can be sealed with matching covers to make them suitable for use in a cleanroom. Cables are routed through the profiles. This results in smooth surfaces that are particularly easy to clean. In addition, there is an HPL (high pressure laminate) table top adapted to these specific requirements and a storage surface with a Perforated Sheet in the handling area. Lights are attached to the sides to prevent problems and dust accumulation above the working surface. A height-adjustable table column set that can be certified up to ISO class 5 ensures optimum ergonomic adjustment. Using an ESD table top and a wide range of other components, it is also possible to create comprehensive ESD protection. The Work Bench System is therefore also able to offer solutions that will help protect sensitive products from electrostatic discharge.

With Pre-Filter M5 and HEPA Filter H14, the Filter Fan Unit (FFU) removes 99.995 percent of all particles from the ambient air.

In addition, the item portfolio has been expanded to include special components for the customised design of laminar flow boxes. You can see a sample solution in the application gallery of the item website. A Filter Fan Unit (FFU), suitable lighting and height-adjustable table columns are integrated as standard. The combination of filter and centrifugal fan creates a clean, low-turbulence airflow across the working surface, providing the conditions for cleanroom production. With Pre-Filter M5 and HEPA Filter H14, the system removes 99.995 percent of all particles from the ambient air. Its filtration efficiency has been tested to DIN EN 1822. A half-height, fold-away panel at the front ensures that the air above the table top does not get swirled around. Staff can reach under the panel to carry out the necessary work. The aluminium profile frame with sealed grooves is also available as a table-top unit or with an integral base frame. This means it can be certified up to ISO class 5 to DIN EN ISO 14644-1.

This laminar flow box with height-adjustable work bench demonstrates the effectiveness of the Filter Fan Unit (FFU).

Using machine cabins in cleanroom production

Process enclosures from item are ideal for production facilities that have to meet the highest requirements in terms of cleanliness. Cleanroom-compatible machine cabins with targeted air recirculation can be created using Line X and XMS profiles. An application example of this can also be ordered. It can be certified for ISO class 2 to DIN EN ISO 14644-1. Two FFUs are integrated into the upper part of the service section. This is where the air is filtered, before being routed into the process room. The air then flows through a perforated floor into the lower part. From there, the air is recirculated to the upper part via a double wall. One advantage of recirculating the air in this way is that it increases the service life of the filter. For example, if the machine enclosure is in a heavily contaminated environment, the filter does not degrade so quickly as it would otherwise. This is because air is only drawn in from the surrounding area at the beginning. After that, only air that has already been cleaned is circulated. As a result, there is no reason for regular interruptions for filter changes, which is the ideal situation for cleanroom production.

The application example for cleanroom-compatible machine cabins has two FFUs. It can be adapted to a range of requirements and extended as necessary. Air is recirculated via the rear double wall.

Customised design for cleanroom production solutions

Another advantage comes from the cable conduits integrated into the supporting profiles. These enable safe and straightforward cable routing. Thanks to Cover Profiles and a new Fixing System, these aesthetic constructions are ideal for use in cleanroom production settings with the most stringent demands. The building kit principle makes it possible to customise work benches. The modular components are all compatible with each other and can be combined with each other, providing the perfect basis for making modifications easily. “Our components can be used to create solutions for cleanrooms in various dimensions. They can also be reconfigured at any time, and additional tools, holder systems, special magnifying glasses and other materials can be incorporated. We are not selling an off-the-peg system, we are offering maximum flexibility,” says Kevin Haas.

The new components mean users who are looking to design customised cleanroom solutions can now also benefit from the strengths of the item Building Kit System.

Alongside the FFU, there is one other new item product specially for cleanrooms – Fixing System X 8 for creating flush surfaces, that is to say, walls and ceilings. Panels of 4-5 mm thickness, 36 mm-thick Compound Material and thin, 3-mm Perforated Sheet can be securely fastened using this, creating a range of wall and ceiling structures with easy-to-clean joins. When fixed horizontally, the Perforated Sheet can serve as a working surface or storage shelf. Since it has a high holding force, the Fixing System can also be used to hold the FFU in place. The new components mean users who are looking to design customised cleanroom solutions can now also benefit from the strengths of the item Building Kit System. The modular system can be used as a basis for creating working and production areas that are cleanroom-compatible, ESD-safe and ergonomic. Valuable support is also available in the form of comprehensive assembly guides, technical information, numerous example applications and personalised advice.

Components such as Fixing System X 8, Filter Fan Unit 1200×600 (FFU) and Perforated Sheet St 3mm are installed in this machine cabin for clean production. 

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