Laminar flow hoods are high quality cabinets designed to prevent contamination of semiconductor wafers, biological samples, or any particle sensitive device. They are also known as laminar flow cabinets, laminar flow closets, tissue culture hood or clean benches. Basically they produce a clean air area where work can be carried out. Many manufacturers throughout the world produce many different styles and configurations to meet the many different requirements.
Some of the uses of a laminar flow hood are protecting biological samples from impurities, ensuring a clean air environment for circuit board manufacture, shielding in vitro cultures from contaminants and preventing contamination within a forensic laboratory. The role of laminar flow hoods is to ensure that a workspace is devoid of contaminants, microbial or particulate.
How does a Laminar Flow Hood work?
As with any specialist equipment, the unit has to be matched to the requirements of its usage. With laminar flow hoods it is no different, because of this there are many different models on the market. Laminar flow hoods are manufactured in both horizontal and vertical configurations and in many different sizes. A common style of operation of laminar flow hoods is to continually flush the work area by a unidirectional, intelligent and ultrafiltered air flow, thus assuring full product protection. The ultrafiltering is carried out using HEPA (high efficiency particulates) filters or the superior ULPA (ultra low penetration air) filters (per IEST-RP-CC-001.3) tested to a typical efficiency of >99.999% for 0.1 to 0.3 micron particles. The intelligent air flow means that air flow patterns can also be set up to individual needs. It should be noted though that the aim is to keep an area clean to work in, that does not mean the operative is protected. Laminar flow hoods are not designed to protect operatives. If operator protection is required then protective equipment must be used.
Who uses Laminar Flow Hoods?
Microbiological safety cabinets and associated clean air products, of which laminar flow hoods is a component, are part of a global industry which continues to grow. These products are sold to the pharmaceutical, research, defence, education, food control, optics, horticulture, micromechanics, plastics and healthcare markets amongst others. In fact to anyone who needs a clean work area that is particle-free and bacteria-free. All of these markets remain robust and continue to expand ensuring growth for the successful manufacturers within the industry.
Experimentation in sterile areas
Many chemical experiments require a sterilised area for researchers to keep materials and equipment free from environmental contamination during the preparation and execution of the experiment. Contamination means a flawed experiment. This situation increases costs to the company and delays any product launch which may be expected from these experiments. Laminar flow hoods, with correct usage, ensure a sterile environment for experimentation.
Aseptic processing stage of sterile drug preparation
During the manufacture of sterile drugs the handling of sterile materials must be carried out in a controlled environment. This includes, but is not limited to, air supplies, material, equipment and operatives. Microbial and particulate contamination must be avoided. Again, laminar flow hoods can ensure that contaminants are eliminated. This is also the case during any intravenous preparation. Because Laminar flow hoods come in many sizes, they are easily available in hospital wards where IV treatment is likely.
Horticultural research and plant growth
Plant biologists must have controlled conditions for plants to grow. In such conditions, it is possible that plants with mutations can be used in further studies. Tissue cultures are grown, but these require a sterile working environment to ensure no external contamination. This is where Laminar flow hoods come in to there own. Even small laboratories or nurseries can afford one and the amount of room needed is about the same size as a table.
Laminar flow hoods can be bought as microscope enclosures. These enclosures can protect the operator from exposure to chemical fumes, vapours or particulate. Each enclosure is designed to work with a range of microscopes. The microscope access port allows for easy access of the eyepiece and viewing platform.
In this case, the laminar flow hoods can be used to house robotic equipment used within the manufacturing process for electronics components which are required to be made in a clean air situation. Components for satellites or space vehicles are routinely manufactured this way. Optical components can also be manufactured in the same way.
So now that you are better informed about the uses of a laminar flow hood why not take a look at our product range and the specials we have to offer on these laminar units.