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, firstname.lastname@example.org or Northern Clean Air Specialist Dougie Scott, 07539 256628, email@example.com