How To Specify Microbiological Class II Cabinets For Tissue Engineering

Performance is critical in any microbiological Class II cabinet – especially in tissue engineering experiments. Contamination caused by cabinet failure can destroy hours of work and set back vital projects.

Absolute safety for the cabinet operator and protection for the tissue cells have always been key requirements and will always remain so.

They are fundamental but they represent just the start: there is always much more to consider when specifying microbiological class II cabinets…

Specify Cabinets With Real Laminar Flow

True laminar airflow is essential. It ensures that all parts of the cabinet have a sterilised air current passing over them – preventing bacteria or other germs from gathering.

The air particles should flow in a smooth layer with little or no mixing. There should be no eddies in the air flow – otherwise you risk compromising protection for the user. Turbulent air risks carrying particles out of the cabinet…and on to the end user.

Think of a waterfall that is smooth and flows in one predictable direction (like true laminar airflow). Add a rock into the middle of the waterfall and you get spray that goes in unpredictable directions (like turbulent air).

True laminar airflow is critical but not every cabinet manufacturer is able to provide it. Why not? The answer is simple: many manufacturers offer cabinets with sloping glass fronts for easier viewing – but this can impact on airflow if the rear of the cabinets is not angled slightly as well.

So always specify cabinets with angled fronts and backs to ensure true laminar airflow. By having the sloping sash and sloping back panel, you will prevent cross currents – so you won’t get eddies or swirls of air in the cabinets.

Why Low-Noise Cabinets Are So Important

Operators performing tissue engineering experiments will be working at their cabinets for extended periods of time. They will not thank you for specifying noisy units.

Noise is at best an irritation. At worst it can lead to distractions, mistakes and a frustrated and discontented scientific workforce less able to perform at optimum level on demanding projects of vital importance.

Class II cabinets such as Faster Air’s SafeFAST Premium operate at just 42 dB. That is barely audible – slightly noisier than the average library (40 dB). SafeFAST cabinets are also the lowest energy models on the market: their running costs and carbon emissions are just one-third of some competitors’ cabinets.

Why An Electronic Sash Window Matters So Much

Consistency matters when it comes to sash window opening. It must be the same height every time – your airflow certification depends on it.

Electronically controlled sashes ensure that consistency. So choose a manufacturer that offers electric sashes and a choice of opening heights.

Also, it is important to ensure that the glass is easily accessible for deep cleaning and decontamination. Specify a hinged framework (with hydraulic arms) that gives full access to the glass.

SafeFAST cabinets offer an added safety feature: closing the glass involves pressing two buttons. This means that both hands must be outside the cabinet before the glass can be closed.

Ensure Your UV Decontamination Is Effective

Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) is essential for disinfecting cabinets. But its effectiveness diminishes as the range increases.

Fixed position UV lights may not be fully effective in decontaminating every area within your cabinet. This can jeopardise cleanliness and certification.

Choose UV lighting which can be moved anywhere inside for optimum disinfection performance. And specify a cabinet with an anti-bacterial coating for added protection.


How Will The Long Term Costs Impact My Budget?

Be careful! It is very easy to be tempted by manufacturers’ offers of low-cost cabinets. But some manufacturers will claw back those savings (and much more) by imposing high servicing costs further down the line.

Saving a few thousand pounds on the purchase price can be a false and ultimately very expensive ‘economy’. Look for a premium cabinet that needs a new HEPA filter only every 20,000 hours, instead of one that needs changing every 7,000-10,000 hours (increasing the lifetime cost of the unit). Thicker filters last longer. Certified ‘low-pressure-drop’ H14 HEPA/ULPA filters can also offer savings of up to 30% on power consumption.

The savings are considerable – between £3,000 and £5,000 over the lifespan of the cabinet, compared with units that have thinner HEPA filters.

High servicing costs are bad enough on one cabinet – but multiply them by every cabinet in your laboratory and the extra expense does not bear thinking about, even if it is spread over time.

Think also about the downtime. Servicing a cabinet means it will be out of action for two or three days. Halving the servicing reduces that wasted time – again, a key factor for labs with large numbers of cabinets.

In our experience, university researchers on three-year contracts do not always look beyond the length of their term when it comes to specifying cabinets. This is a missed opportunity to save their universities significant sums over at least 10 years.

For smarter purchasing and real savings, we recommend following the example of the big pharma companies that take a much longer term view when it comes to whole-of-life costs for each cabinet.

How Soon Can I Get My New Cabinets?

Choosing the right partner can make all the difference between getting your cabinets within days or waiting weeks for them.

This is particularly important if you are replacing an existing cabinet that has failed during an urgent project.

Make sure your chosen manufacturer always has plenty of stock in the UK. This has never been more important with the increased demand due to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Furthermore, ensure that the cabinet manufacturer is happy to work with your existing servicing engineers (especially if you have a site-wide contract). You don’t have to lose a trusted partner – you can gain another.

Get Expert Technical Support

Faster Air sells SafeFAST Class II microbiological safety cabinets through its official UK distributor Biopharma Group.


Get expert technical advice from Biopharma Group Airflow Product Sales Executive Stephen Pygott, 07467 941522, or Northern Clean Air Specialist Dougie Scott, 07539 256628,

Microbiological Safety Cabinets used in Gene Therapy

Gene Therapy is a rapidly expanding market within the global biotechnology industry. Using techniques such as CRIPSR, a gene editing technology, the aim is to treat and prevent diseases. By inserting or altering harmful genes in a patient cell, it can reduce the need for surgeries or drugs.

The UK is at the forefront of advancing Gene Therapy technology accounting for 12% of global gene and cell trials*. Innovation hubs such as those in White City, London and Stevenage have spearheaded this development.

To carry out this experimental work, companies require specialist systems and infrastructure. Biopharma recently installed 10 Premium 212 Microbiological Safety cabinets to a Gene Therapy company based in white City, London. This is now the second company within the emerging hub of innovative life sciences start-ups to install Faster safety cabinets.

A Microbiological safety cabinet provides product, personnel and environmental protection while handling biological samples such as in tissue culture, biological testing and pathogenic samples.

The ambient air is drawn in from the slots at the stainless-steel base of the front opening and it then passes under the work surface, from where it is drawn up and blown into the plenum of the re-circulating and exhaust fan(s).


The “bio-dynamic sealing system” of the negative pressure plenum ensures that all contaminated particles are kept inside the system and are automatically drawn to the plenum or pressure chamber to be captured by the main re-circulating and exhaust H 14 HEPA/ULPA filters, thus protecting the user, product and environment.


70% of the filtered air is re-circulated (after passing through a H14 HEPA/ULPA filter) in an air cleanliness in Class ISO 3, according to ISO 14644-1 laminar flow pattern downwards into the work chamber and the remaining 30% is exhausted to atmosphere through another H14 HEPA/ULPA filter.

Features that should be considered when purchasing a Class II cabinet are safety, cost (both upfront and energy cost) as well as noise and location. The Premium 212 is one of the most energy efficient cabinets in the market with an annual running cost of 0.084kWh meaning a running cost of £17.40 per year! It is also one of the quietest at 42dB meaning a lab with several cabinets side by side can be a relaxing and suitable work area for any kind of experiment. Other features include dimmable LED lighting, magnetic and removable UV sterilizing lamp, electronic angled sliding sash and work surface in stainless steel AISI 316L.

At Biopharma we will always provide advise on your requirements. We regularly visit sites to help decisions such as locations and carry out site surveys. Oh and did someone say we also keep stock of most Class II cabinets!


Biopharma Group awarded 4 year exclusive agreement with The University of Bristol

We are pleased to announce the award of a 4 year exclusive framework agreement, to supply Faster Class II Microbiological Safety Cabinets into The University of Bristol. The agreement comes via our best performing distributor Wolflabs.

Wolflabs has an excellent presence within the LUPC framework and this, combined with our Biopharma Group product expertise, ensure customers receive competitive pricing – as well as direct access to all the relevant technical information.

Matt Stubbs, Clean Air Sales Manager at Biopharma Group said, “being awarded a framework agreement, by one of the top red brick universities in the UK, is a great achievement for us. It demonstrates how working to our distributors key strengths and supporting them with technical expertise, is recognised by our customers as something that sets us apart from the competition. We are looking forward to repeating this magic combination with other Universities across the country”.

Earlier this month we were also presented with a special award at the 25th annual Distributor event, delivered by Faster S.r.l. The Milan based clean room equipment supplier is one of Biopharma Group’s best performing business sectors since a relationship was established in November 2018.

We look forward to continuing our success supplying the Faster brand of clean air equipment and working with Wolflabs.

Latest HSE Guidance on 3D Printers

Have you seen the latest guidance from the UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE)?

The report (number RR1146), entitled ‘Measuring and controlling emissions from polymer filament desktop 3D printers’ looked at the emissions of particulate from the process of 3D printing and assessed the effectiveness of control methods.

The research found that the process of 3D printing heated filaments which emitted large numbers of very small particles and volatile organic chemicals which could be breathed in. 3D printers are commonly used in schools, hence the increased priority to protect users!

Placing the printer inside an enclosure fitted with a suitable air filtration system will contain emitted particles and protect your users.

Biopharma Group is the UK’s number one distributor of Faster clean air products. Faster have had great success and much experience building bespoke and off the shelf enclosure to house all kinds of equipment which emit potentially harmful matter.

Contact us NOW for advice and pricing for a suitable air filtration system enclosure hood! 

Here’s a couple of examples of the enclosures we have previously manufactured.


What are our customers saying about us?

Our customers are great! They say such nice things about Biopharma and the Faster safety cabinets we sell. Sam from one of our key distributors Medline Scientific was talking to his customer and said:


“Faster cabinets are reliable and quiet and are favoured by service engineers as they are easy to take care of. Biopharma offer the full service of delivery, installation and commissioning and can also take away old cabinets if required.

Faster has been around since the 80’s, with their safety cabinets being marketed in the UK via various channels. Half of the safety cabinets in the new Francis Crick Institute in London are Faster units, so you can be confident in their quality and reliability.

Surprisingly, in many cases I’ve found that the prices of Faster cabinets aren’t much more and are sometimes better than many other brands on the market today!”


We couldn’t have said it better ourselves! Thanks Sam. Find out more about Medline Scientific here. See if they can beat your safety cabinet quote.


Recruitment Coup Strengthens Biopharma Group

All at Biopharma Group are delighted to welcome Doug Scott to the team. Doug has joined Matthew Stubbs in clean air equipment sales making for a formidable team with decades of experience between them!

Biopharma Group became the UK distributor of Faster clean air equipment in November 2018, and as a result of the success of this new product line, the sales team has expanded. Supporting this niche industry requires experience and knowledge to deliver the correct piece of equipment to the customer every time. Doug joins us with plenty of experience, specialising in the sale and ongoing support of safety cabinets, laminar flow clean benches, fume cupboards and other HEPA and carbon filtered devices.

Doug not only has a huge network of contacts in the North of the UK, but he also has great relationships with one of our key distributors Scientific Laboratory Supplies.

Please join us in congratulating Doug on his new role; get in touch with Doug today (


What does your perfect working environment sound like?

Absolute silence?

A little white noise?

The low twittering of a radio in the background?

Whatever your preference it’s nice to be able to hear yourself think when working, especially in a laboratory environment working with important samples or materials.

The modern laboratory is filled with equipment and people all emitting noise which can combine to reach an unbearable level. In fact, noise exposure above 55 dBA, which is similar to a spinning dishwasher or chatter in a restaurant, has been linked to depression. Researchers have proven that prolonged exposure to noise increases the bodies levels of the stress hormone cortisol which is not helpful when concentrating on your laboratory research.

The Faster Premium model of class II microbiological safety cabinet, is known to be the quietest in the market, with dBA of 49 (1.2m model)… and that’s not using clever noise testing equipment, that’s the result of noise testing in a real life lab!

Andrew Palfreeman, Laboratory Manager at Barts Cancer Institute, said “…your cabinets really are so quiet, it’s amazing”!

So how do we do it? Well there’s no trickery here either. We combine, low pressure drop filters with, textile plenum, deep back wall and DC motors to produce the quietest and most energy efficient safety cabinet in the market (and reliably so).

Get in touch today for a chat with our clean air specialist to discover more.

Cell Therapy and Clean Air

Cell therapy and gene therapy are the buzz words most commonly heard in modern laboratories.

In yester year you would have entered a laboratory to find powder handlers and pill making machines along with fume cupboards and chemical storage devices and scientists creating pharmaceutical and performing microbiological testing.

The laboratories of today are tightly controlled and validated cleanroom facilities filled with state-of-the-art clean air technology in the form of class II microbiological safety cabinets, isolators all ensuring the air within the work space is clean of any particles.

Air coming into and out of the cleanroom is filtered as well as the air passing into and out of the equipment within. Laboratory personnel must pass through a rigorous entry process including wearing multiple layers of protective clothing and sometimes such lengths as wet showers. All to ensure the cleanliness of the facility.

Grade H14 HEPA filters are used to ‘clean’ the air entering and exiting controlled facilities as well as within work zones within
equipment such as class II microbiological safety cabinets. H14 HEPA filters are used to remove 99.995% of particles down to size 0.3 microns.

The air within a class II microbiological safety cabinet is pulled in via the front aperture/sash opening, passing below the work space and behind the back wall of the cabinet. The air is now within the engine of the cabinet and is pushed down through the main HEPA filter and into the work space by the main motor. This air now within the work space is clean and passes over the apparatus and samples within without causing contamination.

The air is now deemed as dirty, having passed over the materials within the cabinet and so the air is drawn down beneath the work surface to re-enter the pattern of air entering via the front aperture. In addition, 30% of air is expelled via the exhaust HEPA filter each time the air moves into the engine of the cabinet, thus allowing air to enter via the front aperture and maintain the cycle of cleaning the air within and only expelling clean air back into the laboratory.

The requirement to maintain acute cleanliness is due to the high-profile nature of the cell therapy being performed by the modern-day scientist.

CAR-T cell therapy is the process whereby T cells are extracted from a patient’s body and modified to seek and destroy cancer cells by implanting a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) in the cell.

T cells are a type of white blood cell which move round our bodies searching for abnormalities and infections. They play a huge part in our immune response to any infection or disease including cancer. There are two types of T cell ‘helper’ and ‘killer. Killer cells, seek out and destroy infected cells whereas helper cells stimulate our immune system to respond to the infection or disease.

These CAR-T cells are produced in the laboratory and multiplied before being transfused back into the patient’s body. The necessity to keep these cells ‘clean’ is paramount and rely on solid clean air technology to prevent patient infection during transfusion.

CAR-T cell therapy has been used by cancer research bodies throughout the world in ground-breaking work including that of the Cancer Research Institute who are leaders in the fight against paediatric cancers.

Controversially, stem cell research is also an increasingly common form of laboratory work today. Stem cells can be used to grow a ‘new’ trachea in progressive regenerative medicine.

We at Biopharma Process Systems (BPS) understand the stringent validation requirements of cleanroom facilities as well as clean air equipment which must be maintained to meet the expectations of MHRA. BPS are the ideal partner who understand and can support document preparation and execution to maintain a clean laboratory.

Leading UK Distributor of Clean Air Equipment

On November 1st 2018, Biopharma Group became the exclusive distributor of Italian brand, Faster S.r.l’s clean air and laboratory products within mainland UK.

Biopharma Group has established the perfect combination of network, industry knowledge and loyal installation base on which to offer continued service and expertise.

Faster offer a reliable range of clean air equipment including; safety cabinets, laminar flow work benches and fume cupboards to name a few, coupling a focus on energy efficiency with the flexibility to deliver bespoke product to those customers with more complex applications. Experience in specialist small scale installations is not all that is on offer, Faster has established a number of large-scale installations in the UK including The Francis Crick Institute and Health Services Laboratories.

The recent expansion of Faster’s product range into laboratory equipment, including Ultra Low Temperature Freezers and Ducted Fume Cupboards, offers Biopharma Group exciting opportunities to enter new markets.

Supported by a team of experienced UK based engineers, a sales and project team with decades of experience, Biopharma are committed to providing value and outstanding service to existing and prospective customers.

To discover more about Faster products, contact us via