What is a Pass Box?
Design and Structure: Pass boxes are essentially enclosed boxes equipped with doors on two or more sides. The doors are designed to open alternately, preventing both doors from being open simultaneously and reducing the risk of contamination.
Types of Pass Boxes: There are two main types of pass boxes – Static and Dynamic. Static pass boxes are non-ventilated boxes used for less critical applications. In contrast, dynamic pass boxes have a built-in air shower to blow off particulate matter from items being passed through, making them suitable for more critical applications.
Advanced Features: Some pass boxes come with advanced features such as UV germicidal lamps for additional sterilization and interlocking mechanisms to prevent both doors from opening at the same time.
Materials Used: Pass boxes are typically made of stainless steel due to its durability and ease of cleaning, which are crucial for maintaining hygiene standards.
The Necessity of Pass Box
The primary function of pass boxes is to prevent the ingress of contaminants into the cleanroom. By providing a controlled interface for material transfer, they help to maintain the cleanliness level of the environment.
Efficient Material Transfer
Pass boxes enable the smooth and efficient transfer of materials in and out of a cleanroom or laboratory. This reduces the need for personnel movement, further minimizing the chances of contamination.
With different types available, such as static and dynamic pass boxes, these devices can be tailored to specific industry requirements. For instance, dynamic pass boxes with air showers are ideal for highly sensitive environments where even minute contaminants can have significant impacts.
By minimizing contamination and the associated cleaning or decontamination processes, pass boxes can contribute to cost savings in the long run. They also reduce the need for personal protective equipment as fewer staff are required to enter the cleanroom
Door Opening Direction
Working Principle of Pass Box
Pass boxes are designed with two doors – one opening into the cleanroom and the other opening into the less clean area outside the cleanroom. Both doors are interlocked, which means only one door can be opened at a time. This prevents simultaneous opening and ensures that the cleanroom environment is not compromised.
When a material needs to be transferred, it is placed inside the pass box from the outside door. After the outside door is closed, the inside door can be opened to retrieve the material. This process ensures the cleanroom stays isolated from external contaminants during the material transfer.
The interlock system can be either mechanical or electrical. Mechanical interlocks are simple and reliable, usually involving a mechanical catch that prevents both doors from opening simultaneously. Electrical interlocks use sensors and circuits to control the door opening and may include features like alarms or indicators.
In some advanced models, the pass box includes an air shower that blows high-speed air to remove particulate matter from the material surface. The air is filtered through a HEPA or ULPA filter to ensure it is clean.
Certain pass boxes may also have built-in UV lamps for sterilization purposes. When the box is not in use, the UV lamp can be turned on to kill any bacteria or microorganisms that may be present.
Benefits and Usage of Pass Box
Controlled Environment: Pass boxes help maintain the cleanliness of a controlled environment like a cleanroom by reducing the amount of particulate contamination entering the space. This makes them an essential component in industries like pharmaceuticals, life sciences, semiconductor manufacturing, and more.
Minimize Traffic: They minimize the need for people to enter and leave the cleanroom, thus reducing the potential for contamination and enhancing the overall workflow efficiency.
Versatile Applications: Pass boxes can be used in various applications, from laboratories to manufacturing units, hospitals, and food processing units. They’re especially beneficial in places where maintaining a sterile or particle-free environment is paramount.
Cost Savings: By reducing the need for additional air showers and gowning protocol for personnel entering the cleanroom, pass boxes can contribute to significant cost savings.
Customizable: Pass boxes can be customized to fit the specific needs of an application. They can include features like UV lighting for sterilization, intercom systems for communication, and different materials to suit the environment.
Enhanced Safety: For hazardous materials, pass boxes can provide a safe transfer point, reducing the risk of exposure.
Time Efficiency: The use of pass boxes can significantly speed up the process of material transfer, especially in larger facilities where cleanrooms might be far apart.
Selecting the Right Pass Box
Depending on the volume of material transfers, the size and design of the pass box should be carefully considered. This involves the internal dimensions for the material to be passed, as well as the external dimensions to ensure it fits into the available space. The design can also include interlocking doors to prevent both doors from being open simultaneously and maintaining the integrity of the controlled environment.
The materials used for construction should be robust, easy to clean, and able to withstand the cleaning chemicals used in your specific application. Stainless steel is commonly used due to its durability and resistance to a variety of chemicals.
Some pass boxes come equipped with filters like HEPA or ULPA filters to further reduce particulate contamination. The choice depends on the cleanliness level required in your cleanroom.
Depending on the needs of your specific application, there might be a need for additional features like UV sterilization for enhanced disinfection, or intercom systems for better communication between operators.
Depending on the industry and the specific application, there might be additional standards and regulations that the pass box needs to comply with.
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