Automatic Doors in cleanroom environments

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As a crucial space for a number of industries such as pharmaceutical, bioengineering, electronics and micro-mechanics, a cleanroom environment has stringent requirements such as pressure, temperature control and separation from the outside environment. These environments require regular inspection to ensure they comply with standards and cleanroom classifications.

Manufacturers who use controlled environments continuously search for new methods to help with eliminating waste, improving efficiencies, and maximizing employee convenience. As the entry point for possible contaminants, your entrance systems play an important role in controlling factors that could affect your cleanroom's performance. It is important to make sure your cleanroom entrance has all the right features to keep containments out and minimize particulate transference.

 Airtightness – your doors need to be well sealed

 Effective doors should be as airtight as possible. In almost all cleanroom design, the doors are interconnected to create an airlock system where only one door can be opened at a time to control conditioned air loss. Constant air movement around the room occurs to filter out any airborne particulate with a laminar flow process. Even though most applications aren’t required to be completely airtight, the door system plays a major role in the effectiveness of the complete cleanroom solution. 

 All cleanroom doors incorporate non-shedding vinyl perimeter seals. Non-shedding perimeter seals on your automatic doors don’t release out gas or hold onto particles. Special vinyl seals allow for the necessary compression and required sealing capability to control air infiltration when the doors are closed. All perimeter seals must be easy to clean and be resistant to most disinfecting solutions used for cleaning. The leading edge of the door encounters heavy traffic which could lead to seal damage. Perimeter seals need to be easily replaceable to minimize the end user's cost of ownership. 

Door Speed – the faster the better

 Doors with fast opening and closing speeds regulate air exchange and reduce containments such as drafts, moisture, and particulates through the doorway. The less time a door is open, the easier it is to maintain air pressure. Because the sliding door movement is gradual and doesn’t create turbulence during the open-close cycle, large openings with high ISO ratings are attainable. 

Glass choices – prevent particle accumulation

All cleanroom doors are required to incorporate a smooth surface design or implement a sloped glass system to prevent particulate accumulation. Glass make-up for the doors can vary greatly between end-user requirements. Standard (entry-level) configuration incorporates ¼” tempered glass. From there a laminated glass configuration can be used to prevent particulate release into the cleanroom if breakage occurs and also yield the benefit of continued use of the door should the glass be broken. Aluminum or stainless steel panels can be used or a combination of the glass/panel configuration per the room's intended use.

 Door activation – open only when needed

How and when your door opens is important to think about, since every time the door opens there is a cost associated with air filtration and re-pressurization of the room. Best practice is to have all automatic cleanroom doors function with “knowing act” activation vs sensor activation (non-knowing act) to prevent a needless false activation or keep the door open longer than it needs to because a person or object is located within the door operational sensor zone. False activation is something that could compromise the cleanroom environment. Interfacing doors together (interlocked or air-locked) so only one door is open at a time also allows for less contamination and better control of room pressure. Surface-mounted sensors should also be avoided as they add another particle ledge into the cleanroom environment. 

 All users must be educated on the proper use of the door to ensure their safety and knowledge of the operational parameters. Cleanroom doors should never be installed in public areas or where potential access by pedestrians might occur. Make sure end-user safety and daily safety checks are performed on your cleanroom doors by your staff to reduce potential injury and reduce liability implications. 

 Our specialized cleanroom automatic doors systems can be a major factor in avoiding expensive cross-contamination and maintenance problems as well as ensuring overall operational efficiency and safety in the cleanroom environment. 

 We’ve helped others see the benefits of proper cleanroom entrances and have a controlled environment specialist ready to help you too – contact us today.