If you’re working on putting together a design for your cleanroom, you’ve likely noticed that there isn’t a ton of helpful information out there. That’s because up until recently, most buyers just hired a contractor they felt they could trust, and left it at that. But if you’re here, it’s likely because you’re a part of the newer generation of buyer: the savvy, researching buyer who wants all the information before you even head to a cleanroom manufacturing pro.
Well, we’re here to help you out as best we can. We know it can be tough to find the info you’re looking for when it comes to cleanroom components, so we put together this blog to help you figure out your options for cleanroom walls. First things first, what are the most basic components you need for a successful cleanroom wall that upholds your application’s standards?
When it comes to cleanroom walls, you’re really looking for two things: smooth, dust-free surfaces. But finding the type of surface that’s perfect for your operation is a bit easier said than done. To determine what wall material type is best for you, there are a couple of considerations to keep in mind:
One of the biggest concerns for any new cleanroom, you need to decide how flexible your cleanroom should be. If you plan on housing it in the same building for a decade or more, then you can probably get by with cheaper wall options. Drywall coated with epoxy paint is, at first glance, the easiest way to go about cleanroom walls. You literally just take your building’s existing walls and paint them with an epoxy coating that’s rated for cleanrooms. The only problem with painted drywall is that those will be the walls you’re stuck with now and forever. When it comes to stick-built cleanrooms, there’s very little option for rearranging or expanding the space you started with.
If you think your cleanroom is likely to expand once business gets underway, then a modular cleanroom with moveable wall panels might be the better option. It’s true that the materials might cost a bit more upfront, but you’ll also want to consider what you’d be getting for that additional fee. Modular cleanroom wall panels are typically manufactured out of materials that are scratch and damage resistant. This is helpful because if something runs into one of your modular wall panels, you don’t have to worry about drywall particulate below an epoxy coating seeping out and contaminating your cleanroom. If a modular wall panel gets a scratch, there’s very little cause for concern, and in most cases, you can return to business as usual. Worst case scenario: if the damage is substantial, you can simply call for one replacement panel, which is easily fitted into your existing system in no time at all.
Once you’ve decided whether you’ll be going with fixed or modular cleanroom walls, it’s time to consider the cleaning agents you’ll be using on those walls. Every cleanroom classification is different and requires different levels of sterilization. Pharmaceutical cleanrooms, for example, have to be sterilized with very harsh chemicals multiple times a day. In this situation, you need a wall exterior material that can hold up to those chemicals without warping, corroding, or melting. Applications that use super-strong cleaning materials typically need walls made from stainless steel, which are then coated with a cleanroom specific paint or coating.
On the other side of the coin, if you plan on cleaning your cleanroom regularly, but don’t need to be using the highest grade cleaning supplies on the market, options like vinyl or fiberglass panels are a more cost effective choice. When you’re using lower grade cleaning materials, then you really just need a wall panel that’s going to prevent bacteria and particulate from sticking to it. You won’t have to worry about harsh chemicals eating through coatings and materials, and causing a lot of particulate buildup within your cleanroom.
As we mentioned before, durability can play a big role in your choice of cleanroom wall material. Depending on your application, you’ll need varying levels of material durability. Some materials, like lightweight vinyl modular wall panels, or epoxy coated drywall, can be easy to scratch. When the protective coatings of these types of walls are scratched, the material underneath is exposed and can give off dangerous particulate that can interfere with your processes.
What’s more, some wall materials just start to give off particulate as they age. For example, wood core wall panels are a fairly popular choice for many mid-class cleanrooms, because they’re very sturdy, affordable, and provide decent insulation. They’re an unacceptable choice for sub-Class 1 cleanrooms, however, because as wood ages, it gives off particulate in flakes and splinters. Cleanrooms with more intensive standards are typically best served by walls made primarily of aluminum structure. Aluminum is lightweight, durable, and best of all, doesn’t give off particulate as it ages. That said, it is a more costly option. So if your cleanroom doesn’t need quite that level of cleanliness, you might choose a less expensive option.
Perhaps the biggest consideration that goes into your cleanroom wall material decision, you have to stick to a certain budget. What’s different about cleanrooms is that most of the money you put into them goes into the airflow, the expensive filtration systems, and the energy you have to use to keep your cleanroom functioning properly. Because of this, a lot of cleanrooms don’t look as expensive as they actually are. Your cleanroom walls can be one of the least costly aspects of your cleanroom as they are relatively low-tech. If you’re looking for some area of the project where you can save money, this is certainly it. At the end of the day, most companies’ cleanroom wall choice comes down to cosmetic preference. There are so many options for cleanroom walls, from epoxy coated drywall and panels to vinyl and fiberglass panels, that you shouldn’t have to worry about spending a high percentage of your budget on walls.
That said, know that there are quite a few companies who do spend more on their walls because they want their cleanrooms to reflect the expense put into them. Many laboratories and manufacturers will opt to spend more money on say, stainless steel walls, even when they don’t need them because it gives their cleanroom the look of a high-tech, cutting-edge facility. Know that you don’t have to have these impressive walls to meet your cleanroom standards. If you have extra room in the budget and are looking to build a cleanroom that looks as impressive as the technology behind it, then more streamlined, shiny, expensive options are perfect for you. But you don’t have to go that route if you don’t have the budget.
Cleanroom walls are often overlooked when it comes to designing a new cleanroom. There’s not a lot of information out there about them, and it can be difficult to decide which material will work best for your application, and convey the image you’re looking for. If you have more questions about choosing the right wall material for your cleanroom, be sure to give the experts at Angstrom a call! We’re here to help you, and we’d love to provide you with any cleanroom information you’re looking for to make the best, informed choice for your company. Give our office a call at 888-768-6900, or request a quote online today!
When you’re commissioning a new cleanroom, it can feel like a necessary evil. You need a cleanroom to start operations, but it costs a lot of money that you might not have available in the budget at the time. It’s a bit of a Catch-22. At this point, you’re probably looking for anything that will get you the cleanroom you need in the time frame you have. Luckily, there are a variety of design options that can solve some of the most common budget concerns. Here are a few cost-cutting design options to keep in mind when you’re looking for a cleanroom now:
One of the absolute quickest and easiest ways to save money on a cleanroom design is to opt for a modular cleanroom over a traditional cleanroom. In most cases, this is a perfectly valid solution, as modular cleanrooms can perform to almost all of the highest cleanroom standards. Additionally, modular cleanrooms can be modified to accommodate business expansions. And most importantly, they’re cheaper and quicker to build than your traditional cleanroom. When you opt for a modular cleanroom, you can get the cleanroom you can afford now without barring yourself from expanding to the larger cleanroom you really want in the future. If budget is an issue, modular cleanrooms are the way to save.
Make it Smaller
Sure, you want a cleanroom that’s big enough to handle the processes you plan on implementing in the future, but can you get by with something smaller for the time being? In the case of modular cleanrooms, there’s a lot you can do to get by with a smaller cleanroom. For example, you can use an existing wall and build your modular cleanroom off of that, which will reduce building and material costs. Remember, you can always build off of that existing cleanroom, or move it to a larger space down the road.
Additionally, by choosing a cleanroom design with a lower ceiling, you’ll also save money when it comes to energy and material costs. The smaller your cleanroom is, the less money it will cost to run it, and the less energy you’ll need to keep it to your ISO standard. If you can get by with a cleanroom with a lower ceiling and a more conservative size, and you need a cleanroom right now, then it’s not a bad idea to start small and expand later on. It’s good to note, though, that if you plan on expanding, to make sure you tell your cleanroom expert. They’ll be able to walk you through the best way to construct a cleanroom that works for you now, but will be compatible with additional processes when you do expand in the future.
Consider LED lighting
Cleanroom lighting makes up a large portion of the money spent on maintaining a cleanroom. Cleanrooms often require super-bright lighting options. While these lights are great at keeping the room well lit for employees, they’re often responsible for adding a surprising amount of additional heat to a cleanroom. This forces your AC unit to work even harder, which results in a spike in overall energy costs.
Today, there are a variety of LED cleanroom lighting options on the market that solve this problem. You can choose from a standard panel style to a strip style LED light that adheres to directly to the ceiling grid, without interfering with your cleanrooms’ laminar flow. LED lights produce little to no additional heat, and have an exceptionally long life, ensuring that you don’t have to constantly replace light bulbs and keeping your cleanroom cool.
Use your existing AC unit
Another great way to save money is to design a cleanroom that will function on your building’s existing HVAC or heating and cooling unit. This is an efficient way to control the temperature of your cleanroom, so long as your building’s unit can handle the extra load that your new cleanroom will add. Consult with your building’s heating and cooling expert to ensure the unit can handle that much energy, and if it can, you’re in luck!
It is good to note that some cleanroom class standards do require a cleanroom have its own AC module, in case the central unit fails. In this case, or in the case that your central unit is already overworked, you’ll need to ensure your cleanroom is properly ventilated to the outside. Though it’s usually cheaper to ventilate a cleanroom into the larger building, this puts a lot of additional stress on both your cleanrooms AC unit and the HVAC unit in the building. Avoid this if possible, to keep both units working in top condition for their intended lifespan.
We get a lot of questions from clients wondering if pre-filters are an acceptable option to use in conjunction with heavy duty HEPA and ULPA filters. The answer is definitely yes! Pre-filters are put in front of the larger filters and can be up to 80% efficient at capturing larger dust particles before they reach the HEPA and ULPA filters. This keeps your larger, more important filters cleaner for longer. Pre-filters are relatively inexpensive and easily cleaned and reused. By using pre-filters in addition to your HEPA or ULPA filters, you extend those more expensive filters’ lifetime and save yourself quite a bit of money.
Pass-thru chambers are another sneaky way to save money on your cleanroom. They’re a lot smaller than an access door, and they allow employees to transfer supplies or materials without having to gown up. This saves both money and time: money because in using a pass-thru chamber instead of a full door, you eliminate the possibility of contamination from foot-traffic and maintain a stable pressure during the interaction; and time because your employees won’t have to properly gown up to enter the cleanroom via the access door. In installing a pass-thru chamber as part of your new cleanroom design, you’ll save money by lowering energy costs and increasing employee productivity.
We hope that this list helps you find a cleanroom that works both for your application and your budget. If you have more questions regarding a cleanroom design that works for you, make sure to give the experts at Angstrom a call! We’re always here to help answer any cleanroom questions you can throw at us, so get in touch with our office at 888-768-6900, or request a cleanroom quote online today!
Updating your cleanroom can be daunting. After all, there are so many factors that need to be considered when it comes to any change to the cleanroom environment. You have to consider the specification you need to meet, cost, durability, and maintenance requirements of additions or replacements. But investing in some smart upgrades can really improve the cleanliness, ease of maintenance, efficiency, and ergonomics of your cleanroom space.
LED lighting is a no-brainer when it comes to upgrading your cleanroom. When compared with fluorescent lighting it’s easy to see why: LED lights are very efficient, emit little heat, and require little maintenance, whereas fluorescent lights are fragile and need replacing often. LEDs have the longest lifespan of any commercially available light source, which makes them worth investing in.
LED lighting also beats fluorescent lighting in system efficiency (greater than 50 lumens/watt for LEDs, less than 30 lumens/watt for fluorescents). This is because fluorescent lighting is omnidirectional, emitting light for 360°. Fixture housings are required to redirect fluorescent light to the desired area. LEDs emit light for only 180°, which makes it easy to target light over the desired area–more light actually reaches it.
If your cleanroom wall panels are damaged, it can be costly to replace them. If the damage isn’t too extensive, it’s possible that panels can be repaired instead of replaced. Repairing damaged panels will improve the aesthetic of your space, but most importantly, it will help maintain the integrity of the cleanroom. Damaged panels could give off particulate matter or allow contaminants to breach the cleanroom.
Vinyl Walls and Ceilings
Vinyl is a smart upgrade for two reasons: cleaning and surface resistance. Vinyl is easy to clean and allows complete removal of particles, in addition to its low particulate emission. Vinyl can also have dissipative or conductive levels of static resistance, making it ESD safe, if that’s something your cleanroom requires.
Due to a variety of factors (gravity, for example), floors are often the dirtiest part of a cleanroom. Just like walls and ceilings, vinyl is also a good flooring choice for the same reasons: chemical resistance, static dissipative or conductive resistance, low particulate emission, and easy cleaning. There are also a variety of other flooring types such as rubber, epoxy coating, urethane, etc., with different characteristics to meet specific purposes. Cleanrooms with heavy vehicle and wear traffic may benefit from ultra-durable rubber flooring, whereas cleanrooms with the need for chemical and stain resistance might require urethane.
There are many ways to spend money while updating your cleanroom, but smart upgrades can help you make the most of your renovations, and your cleanroom. If you’re looking to upgrade your modular cleanroom, be sure to call Angstrom Technology at 888-768-6900 or request a quote online today!
One of the most difficult considerations when designing a cleanroom is determining how big or small it needs to be. The goal is to create a cleanroom that is big enough to house operations, but only just. If your cleanroom is considerably larger than you actually need it to be, then you end up wasting a lot of money by keeping that extra space clean as well. If your cleanroom is too small, you won’t reach required production levels and you may not have enough space for all of your machinery. So, how do you decide what your dimensions should be? Here are a few things to take into account:
Sure, maybe you have a warehouse with a ton of empty space, but that doesn’t mean you should use all of it for the cleanroom proper. You need to make space allowances for both big HEPA, ULPA, and pre-filters, and you have to consider the installation of the cleanroom itself. Regarding the ceiling, you’ll need at the absolute minimum 6 inches of clearance. Less than that, and you risk starving your filters for air, defeating the purpose of the cleanroom in the first place. We recommend you leave about three feet, if you have the room, to allow for hassle-free changing of your filters. They’re not small, and it will make the job much easier if your employee has a little room to move up there.
When it comes to the walls, we understand that most people like to build against existing walls to conserve space. While this is fine if you absolutely need the space, the installation, and any future maintenance, will be considerably easier if you leave a three-foot perimeter around your cleanroom. This gives you more room to work with, and it makes any future expansions, updates, and even the initial installation go a lot faster.
As a final point on clearance, if you do have a ton of space, it’s important to remember that your cleanroom doesn’t need to take up the entire room. In order to be cost-effective, your cleanroom should be the right size for your operations, and no larger. The more dead space, the more money you pay for no reason.
Another key consideration is to estimate exactly how much space any machinery or appliances will take up. If you already have the machinery, we suggest placing it on the floor of your existing area to get an idea of how much space the machines alone will take up, and how far apart they’ll need to be to provide employees safe and convenient access. Any kind of machinery is going to be your biggest factor in determining cleanroom size.
Once you figure out how much space your machines need, you’ll next have to decide how many workers your operation will require, and how much space they will need to function efficiently within the cleanroom. This should include any workspace required within the cleanroom. If they need to use a table, desk, computer, or chairs, these should all be taken into account when you’re thinking about your cleanroom size. Your employees should have enough room to access the machinery, and comfortably walk from point A to point B, without running into, or interrupting, other workers.
The final consideration regarding cleanroom space has to do with temperature. While the majority of cleanrooms are modular, any type of cleanroom structure you create will trap heat. This means that if you have a lot of machinery running within the cleanroom or a lot of employees, you may have to factor in a greater amount of space to keep the cleanroom from overheating. Since you can’t – like other rooms – just open a window or door, there has to be enough space built into the design to allow your air conditioner to keep the room at a stable temperature. This is imperative to the function of the cleanroom itself, as well as the productivity of your employees.
It’s also important to note that if you opt for a modular cleanroom, you can always expand along with your production. Modular cleanrooms are highly adjustable, which means you can add on to your existing cleanroom whenever you need the extra space, and if production slows for any reason, it’s relatively simple to bring your cleanroom in a bit. For optimal flexibility, we always advise those in search of a cleanroom to go for a modular option. This way, even if the cleanroom ends up the wrong size, it can easily and affordably be re-fitted for your current business operations.
We hope this helps you determine what size cleanroom you need! If you have any more questions regarding cleanrooms, from installations to maintenance, Angstrom Technology is happy to help. We’ve been in the industry for decades, so we’re confident that we can address any issue you’re having quickly and effectively. Whether you’re interested in a cleanroom, or you just have a few questions, make sure to get in touch. You can call our office at 888-768-6900, or contact us online today!
Cleanrooms can be expensive, there’s no doubt about it. A cleanroom is a highly technical system that has to be maintained to exact standards, and that maintenance can certainly be expensive. But since you can’t afford to not have a clean room, what are some steps you can take to make the costs a bit more manageable? To be the most efficient, it’s best to start thinking about your costs while you’re still in the planning phase of your cleanroom. Don’t worry if your cleanroom has already been built, because there are plenty of steps you can take to reduce your costs in an existing system as well.
Here are our top suggestions to help you cut your cleanroom system costs, starting with construction, and ending with supply purchasing:
Have a plan: The best thing you can do when constructing a cleanroom that stays under budget is to have a strict, defined plan. Make sure you know exactly what’s happening, when it’s happening, and how it’s happening. If you’re building a brick and mortar cleanroom, know how long construction will take, and how long until you’ll be able to start your production. If you’re going with a modular cleanroom, installation shouldn’t be much of an issue, but you should know approximately how long it will take you to get it inspected before you can move in and get started. If you have a construction plan and stick to it, you’re less likely to have any surprises budget-wise.
Size: The size of your cleanroom will have the biggest effect on your budget. The bigger the cleanroom, the more air, filters, and equipment in general it will take to run to standard. That’s why it’s important to know exactly how much space you’ll need. Of course, your cleanroom needs to be comfortably large enough to house your operations, but it’s a good idea to check, and double check exactly how much space you’ll need, so that you don’t end up buying equipment for dead space.
HVAC system: A great way to save money on your cleanroom is to make use of your existing HVAC system. While you’ll have to talk to your contractor about its capabilities, if you can use your existing air for your cleanroom, you’ll save a lot on installation and overall energy costs. Do remember that if you plan on expanding your cleanroom operation over time, you’ll have to make sure your existing HVAC system will be able to support the increased load. Otherwise you’ll have to consider a costly remodel when you do decide to expand.
Pass-through chamber: Not only does this one save money, it’ll save your employees time as well. A pass-through chamber means fewer employees will have to gown to transfer materials and supplies in and out of the cleanroom, which first saves you money on expensive gowning supplies. In addition to that, the more employees in your cleanroom, the more contaminants, and the more times a door opens, the harder your cleanroom will have to work to restore proper air pressure. A pass-through chamber is considerably smaller than a door, and by design prevents your cleanroom from losing much pressure. Not only will a pass-through save your employees time, but your cleanroom will stay cleaner, and will be able to maintain pressure more easily, saving you money on energy costs.
Economical lighting options: Cleanrooms have to be well-lit. People are doing very technical work, sometimes on the tiniest parts. Good lighting does cost money, but you can certainly cut those costs by investing in energy efficient lighting that still suits your cleanroom. One option is installing LED panels. LED lights give off less heat, which reduces your energy cost, and they last five to eight times longer than regular fluorescent bulbs. If you’re worried about lighting panels interfering with laminar air flow, you might also consider LED strips, which are attached directly to the ceiling grid, in between filters so no air flow is interrupted. Since these lights give off less heat and last longer, you’ll save a lot on energy costs in no time.
Prefilters: If you were thinking that pre-filters were an unnecessary cost that would just add to your budget, think again! Prefilters are actually relatively inexpensive compared to HEPA and ULPA filters, and they really cut down on particulate. Since they are placed before HEPA and ULPA filters, they filter out a lot of primary contamination, and can prolong the life of those more expensive units. Though they do have to be replaced more often, you’ll save money in the long run by not having to replace the expensive HEPA/ULPA filters as much.
Training: The absolute best way to cut down on costs is to make sure that everyone that enters your cleanroom knows exactly what’s expected of them, what protocol is, and how the cleanroom needs to be treated. When everyone understands the process, knows how to gown properly, and how to keep the cleanroom clean, it will be much easier and less costly to keep your clean room running properly.
Buy in bulk: A final cost-cutting tip is to buy in bulk. While you may have already thought of it, distributers are coming out with new options all the time, so it’s a good idea to stay up on all the new products available. Any consumable good that your facility uses regularly can generally be bought in bulk, which is a lot cheaper for you, and much more convenient for your employees, as they’re less likely to run out of items that are important to your clean room’s cleanliness.
With more than 20 years experience in designing, installing, repairing and supplying cleanrooms, Angstrom is your first choice for any clean room question. We can design a cleanroom to your exact specifications, and we’re more than willing to make repairs as well. Give us a call at 888-768-6900 or contact us online today!
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Angstrom Technology 901 Northland Drive, NE Rockford, MI 49341 Phone: 888-768-6900 Fax: 616-866-0080