You may have heard of a type of industrial furniture called a laminar flow workbench, but you might not be sure of exactly what it is or if you need one for your business.
Laminar flow benches were designed as a low-cost alternative to clean rooms. They provide a way for businesses to protect their work from contamination.
Basically, it is a workbench with a specialized hood on it. Air is drawn through a HEPA ( High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter in the hood and blown away from the parts or materials on the bench in a unidirectional manner, either vertically or horizontally across the worksurface. There are different classes of filters available, depending on the level of cleanliness needed.
So, if part of your business involves any process where it is important to prevent dust particles or contaminants from attaching to or getting into your parts, products, samples or materials, a laminar flow bench might be a good choice for you.
Common Uses For A Laminar Flow Workbench
Laminar flow workbenches are a great alternative to a clean room when money and/or space is limited, and building a clean room is not an option.
Here are some typical applications where using a laminar flow bench makes sense:
Medical and Research Laboratories - These types of laboratories often require sterile environments to prevent airborne contamination of experiments and samples. In some cases, a UV germicidal lamp is used to sterilize the interior and contents before usage to prevent contamination of experiments from bacteria, viruses and protozoa. The lamp is then turned off while the laminar flow hood is turned on to prevent the worker from being exposed to stray ultraviolet light emissions.
Medical Equipment and Implant Assembly - Every piece of medical equipment and implant device or part has to be sterile. Laminar flow workbenches are used in the manufacturing, assembly and packaging processes to keep dust particles off and contamination from happening.
Electronic Parts Assembly and Testing - Electronic parts are very sensitive to surfaces being soiled by contaminants. These contaminants can create a defect that can “kill” a miniature circuit. Dust on the surface coating of a wafer or chip can create contact resistance and prevent a relay from working. In the electronic world, a tiny speck of dust on a microchip can be as damaging as a huge boulder and costs companies millions of dollars every year. A laminar flow bench can be used in both the assembly or testing processes.
Pharmaceutical Production - Before a drug can be manufactured, much work goes into the actual formulation of the drug by scientists. Laminar flow benches are used for the experiments and tests that must be done in a contaminant-free environment.
Tissue Cultures - Tissue cultures are an important tool for the study of the biology of cells from multicellular organisms. They provide an in vitro model of the tissue in a well defined environment which can be easily manipulated and analysed. Laminar flow benches provide a contaminant- free environment for these cultures to be tested and analyzed.
Stem Cell Therapy Processes - Stem cell therapy involves extracting stem cells from bone marrow, blood or adipose tissue and injecting it back into a patient for treatment. For obvious reasons, it is important to keep the stems cells as contaminant free as possible.
Food Processing - Laminar flow benches are used for small-scale food processing and packaging. In addition, the formulation and testing labs in these businesses will often use them as well.
Data Recovery - Data recovery services use laminar flow benches files are recovered from hard drives, flash drives, RAID array or any other type of digital device. The engineers who work on these must keep them as contaminant free as possible.
Projection Lens Assembly - Any dust or particles that attach to a lens during assembly will create dark marks when they are in use. Think about old movies with all of the black marks from dust a particles.
A laminar flow workbench can be a very cost-effective way to to perform functions in a business that require a clean, contaminant-free process. For start-up or small companies, the investment is minimal and allows your business time to grow to a size where you will be able to afford the space and money for a cleanroom.