The laminar airflow system has made its name by controlling particulate contamination in the industrial and laboratory environment. These systems including laminar flow workstations, work by moving the air at the same speed in a linear direction. The framework of such workstations ensures that the air streams or lamina do not overlap each other. Providing an advantage over turbulent flow where the particles are deposited on the surface randomly. A laminar airflow hood ensures that the contaminants or particles are transferred in a uniform direction towards the filter face, and then to the exit area. The exit area is located along the back or bottom of the hood while the clean (germ-free) area is near the filter face. The working area is in the clean zone, away from the exit area.
The direction in which the air flows in the laminar hood determines its type. There are basically two types of laminar flow workstations—vertical and horizontal. When purchasing one of these systems, it’s important to remember to check their clearance requirements, work surface design, process location, and operator safety guides. HEPA filters are usually present in both styles of the systems, providing an extra layer of filtering of the contaminants.
Vertical Laminar Flow Hoods
In case of the vertical laminar flow workstations, the filter units are placed near the ceiling. The system directs the airflow downward such that the particles are swept out of the enclosure through a front access area due to the force of gravity. Lab technicians and their team members need to wear special clothing and gloves when working with these systems. Even though the micro-contaminants do not weigh much, the particles usually settle down on the work surface that can be easily cleaned later on. The vertical laminar flow workstation consists of a perforated work surface that allows the air to pass through the entrance with minimal obstruction. The vertical laminar airflow hood requires less floor space as the hood is not so deep.
Horizontal Laminar Flow Hoods
In the case of laminar flow hoods, the air is passed through the filter in a horizontal direction and maintains a sterile environment. Therefore, the technicians need not always wear a double set of gloves or a gown when using this style of workstation. The horizontal laminar flow workstations require additional depth to fit in the rear mount fan unit to allow air to enter the framework. The additional equipment in the horizontal laminar hood system necessitates a larger floor space than the vertical system requires. Also, horizontal laminar flow hoods are designed to sustain a clean environment where operations involve small parts or liquids. Thus a horizontal design ensures that it is easy to clean off after work.
Laminar airflow hoods have become an essential part of operating rooms, pharmaceutical labs, hospital rooms, and other industrial sectors due to their efficiency in nurturing a clean working environment.
Both the horizontal and vertical types of laminar airflow systems should be started at least 15 minutes before an operation, so that the particles are purged from the enclosure. It’s important to note that laminar flow hoods are manufactured and assembled to ensure that the end users are safe and remain unaffected by the contaminants. The vacuum tubes and cables can also be cleaned off easily, ensuring a secure environment. Mobile workstations with flow hoods as well as customized laminar flow workstations are also available in the markets that offer a secure, contaminant-free working environment.