CleanRoom Particle Counters - Industry Expert
Reviews, Comparisons and Comments
Need a Particle Counter for a Particular Type of Cleanroom? Experts
Compare Clean Room Particle Counters From Leading
ParticleCounters.org has teamed
up with the best manufacturers of the Cleanroom Particle Counter
Industry. We take the many models of the various clean room
and put them into an easy to reference comparison chart. Our leading
industry experts have years of experience with the various particle
counter manufacturers and evaluate entry level to advanced cleanroom models.
Our team of industry professionals lay
all the cards on the table and will help you evaluate the positives
and negatives with respect to the various cleanroom air monitoring
systems. No matter what level of cleanroom classification you are
attempting to achieve; the years of experience our industry experts
have will benefit you with your decision making process. We compare
the top manufactures and list their strengths and weaknesses as well
as listing their unique features and applications.
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Counter for Your Cleanroom?
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your cleanroom needs?
overwhelmed. We have a panel of experts who know exactly what
you need for certification or verification in all classes of
cleanrooms or critical environments.
We carry most
major brands and can set you up with the best instruments for
your application ...at the best price.
Cleanroom Particle Counter Learning Area
Cleanroom particle counters have been
specifically engineered for quantifying the degree of airborne
particulate contamination in formats specified for federal and international classifications in the clean
Why do you need to test your
Semiconductor facilities and
pharmaceutical manufacturers are examples of environments that
require demanding air monitoring certification. An accurate
air monitoring and testing system is the only method for these
facilities to maintain that level of cleanliness needed during
environmentally sensitive production, packaging and transport. Some oom particle
counters can activate alarms when contamination poses immediate
threats to manufacturing processes. An integrated
facility monitoring system can even use a particle counter
to trigger building automation. Alternatively, these cleanroom
particle counters can document emerging contamination trends to
guide cleaning personnel in maintaining air quality in
As the manufacturing process becomes
more efficient with more products produced in the same space during
the same amount of time, the greater the monetary loss in the event
of contamination in a clean-room, mini-environment or critical
environment. The greatest threat used to be the human component of
the process. As the industry moves toward more robotic solutions for cleanrooms this does not completely solve the problem. In a minienvironment, numerous sources of contamination can exist
including fan filter failure (FFU), excess contamination build up on
the tool over time, improperly adjusted FFU speed, or mini-environment
For over the last 30 years, Dan Milholland has played in integral part in
writing the major cleanroom standards. He has
personally consulted NASA, presented to the FDA, served on
the Expert Council for U.S. ISO 14644-1.
The only way to prevent losses is to catch a
contamination event as it happens. As production evolves, so
must monitoring. It used to be that one particle counter with
a sequential sampling system was enough to monitor several cleanroom mini-environments. To keep up with manufacturing efficiencies, one
dedicated remote particle counter should be used to continuously
monitor each mini-environment. For more effective prevention, a
small sequential manifold can extend the coverage of each remote
particle counter to accurately and
continuously monitor several locations within each minienvironmnet
or process tool. To remedy clean room contamination, a highly
sensitive handheld particle counter can be used to locate the source
of particle emissions.
Cleanroom classifications are based on
national and international standards. The three that we use
are FS-209E, ISO-14644-1 and
EC GMP. In the United States, we
use Federal Standard 209E, which has been recently replaced with
ISO-146441. Both standards are still used as we slowly make
the transition. [More Cleanroom Standards Information...]
Cleanroom Particle Counter Reviews...
>Portable Particle Counters If you only own one particle counter, or you are looking to buy
your first particle counter for your cleanroom, a portable
particle counter is most likely to fulfill all your needs. Of
any configuration, portable is the most versatile. It is a
completely portable system with printer, data logging, PC
connectivity and multiple channels that can be easily carried to
locations for certifying or spot checking cleanrooms. Though
bigger, heavier and more expensive, it can easily do the job of a
handheld particle counter. In addition, many can run a circuit
of 4-20mA environmental sensors, giving you everything needed to
Now consider continuous monitoring.
A portable particle counter provides continuous, real time
monitoring with audible internal and external alarming, Modbus
communication to integrate into a large facility monitoring system,
NIST traceable and just about anything else that can go into a
particle counter. The portable particle counters will do an
excellent job monitoring one contained area, but for continuous
monitoring of large areas or multiple areas, consider a systems of
remote particle counters.
• Lighthouse SOLAIR 1100 PLUS
• Lighthouse SOLAIR 3100
• Lighthouse SOLAIR 3100 PLUS
• Lighthouse SOLAIR 3100 PLUS Black
• Lighthouse SOLAIR 3200 PLUS
• Lighthouse SOLAIR 5100
• Lighthouse SOLAIR 5100 PLUS
• Lighthouse SOLAIR 5200 PLUS
• Climet CI-200
• Climet MicroPro 400
• Climet MicroPro 500
>Handheld Particle Counters The second cleanroom particle counter to consider is a handheld
particle counter. Inexpensive and easy to carry around,
handheld particle counters are ideal for spot checking. This
capability is important for tracking down a source of contamination,
testing filters, and generally verifying your cleanroom is working
within specified parameters. Available with a range of
capabilities, from something that flashes the particle count across
the screen, or spend a little more for NIST traceable calibration,
data logging, facility monitoring system integration, multiple size
channels, fully programmable and more.
• Fluke 983 Handheld
• Kanomax Handheld 3887
• Kanomax Handheld 3886 GEO-Alpha
• Kanomax 3800 Condensation Particle
• Lighthouse Handheld 2016
• Lighthouse Handheld 3016
• Lighthouse Handheld 3016 Black
• Lighthouse Handheld 5016
• IQAir ParticleScan CR\
• IQAir ParticleScan PRO
• Met One GT-321
• Met One GT-521
• Met One Aerocet GT-531 Aerosol
Particle Counters Remote particle counters are appropriate for large cleanrooms or
critical environments. Sometimes called a dedicated particle
counter, the remote particle counter is a very basic sensor that
focuses on providing data on a few particle size channels to a
remote terminal unit or control computer. Most have no
internal pump, data logging, limited controls or displays, just the
bare essentials packaged into the smallest box possible. Using
a system of remote particle counters maximizes the number of points
where data is collected, providing higher resolution and more
coverage than using one portable unit.
To expand coverage
further, a sequencing manifold can be used to place multiple probes
in different areas feeding air samples into one particle counter.
The downside of multiplex manifold sampling is the time interval
between samples. The manifold collects air from one probe for
a minute or so, before switching to the next probe. Depending
on how many locations are being sequenced, it may take an hour
before the manifold makes its way back around to the first location,
leaving you blind to each area for up to an hour at a time.
The trick is to balance your use of remote particle counters and
manifolds as well as carefully choosing probe locations and order of
sampling throughout the sequence.
Surface Particle Counters Over the years, there have been several methods of testing
cleanroom surfaces for cleanliness. A very common machine for
testing surfaces is the surface scanner particle counter. But
we have excluded these devices from our list because they are
customized to only test a particular wafer, panel or disk once every
24 hours, and cannot directly test surfaces of products, transport
boxes, cassettes, or handling equipment.
Liquid particle counters can also
be used, but can only test a part that can be transported to a
station where it is emerged in liquid. Optical and airborne
particle counters can use a
special suction head with pressurized air jets that blow across the
surface and suck particles into a vacuum inlet, but this method is
not necessarily accurate either do to environmental factors or
simply whether particles stick to the surface or release and fly
down the vacuum. An effective, yet labor intensive surface
test method is using a microscope to visually inspect a surface and
manually count particles.
we have included on this site,
are a few surface particle
counters that are accurate,
repeatable, give quick results and are cost effective. These
include the Particle Guard Surface Particle Counter which uses
glancing light, digital photography, and counting optics to provide
immediate data & analysis without disturbing the surface, as well as
the 2014 In-Process Wafer Pod Particle Counter. The 2014-IP
replaces microchip wafers, fits in standard SMIF and FOUP enclosures
and counts particles in real time, providing immediate alarming and
other features common to remote or handheld particle counters.
• Lighthouse Wafer Pod 2014IP
In-Process Particle Counter
Cleanroom Particle Counter Background (cont'd)... ISO 14644-1 has replaced standards
worldwide, though it is similar to Federal Standard 209E. The
major changes are as follows:
ISO creates 0.1um as the "Standard" Diameter
Air volume is measured in metric units
ISO establishes three new cleanliness
Two "Cleaner" classes (ISO class 1 and
ISO class 2) than Federal Standard 209E
One "Dirtier" Class (ISO Class 9) which
is allows more particulate than Fed Standard 209E class 100,000
Allows for discarding of "Outliers" -
Federal Standard 209E did not. This is explained below.
> or = Size Shown
Discarding of Outliers...
You may base your certification or verification on one of the
particle size counts listed in the table above, but the size you
choose to monitor must provide a numerically stable count. In
other words, if you have an ISO class 1 cleanroom, the chart gives
you maximum particle counts 10 particles of size 0.1 micron and a
maximum of 2 particles of size 0.2 micron. What if your count
is off by a few particles? Monitoring a room for 2 particles
is less likely to be accurate than monitoring for 10 particles.
cleanroom classification, monitoring the micron size category with the
smallest concentration leaves you the smallest room for error.
Now look at ISO classes 6, 7, 8 and 9. The maximum
concentration of particles of size 5.0 microns are relatively large
numbers. In these cleanrooms or
critical environments, if your 5.0 micron count is off
by a few particles, it would not completely change your results
thus, these numbers are big enough to be stable.
Clean Room Particle Counter Product Reviews...
Akey Lighthouse Solair 3200 PLUS
Portable Cleanroom Particle Counter
Lighthouse Solair 5200 PLUS Portable Cleanroom Particle Counter
Double Your Money... By Cutting Your
Sample Time in Half!
The new Lighthouse Solair 3200+ / 5200+ (2.0 CFM) portable aerosol
particle counter provides twice the flow rate of standard particle
counters – reducing the mandatory sample time by 50%! The higher
flow rate is especially advantageous for
cleanroom certifiers, but
anyone required to monitor their
controlled environments regularly
would benefit from this reduced sampling time.
The Solair 5200+ is ideally suited for those in the Pharmaceutical
industry, as the FDA generally requires monitoring the 0.5-micron
and 5.0-micron sizes. For those required to scan their HEPA
filtration systems, the Solair 3200+ (0.3 – 10.0 microns) would be
the instrument of choice.
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