How to Decide on the Right Wall Material for Your Cleanroom

How to Decide on the Right Wall Material for Your Cleanroom

If you’re working on a technical specification for your new cleanroom design, you’ve likely noticed different types of cleanroom wall materials in the market. Unless you have experience with all the different types of cleanrooms, you might not yet know which cleanroom envelope system is suitable for your project.

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, what essential elements do you need for a successful cleanroom wall that upholds your application’s standards?

When it comes to cleanroom walls, you’re looking for two things: smooth, dust-free surfaces. But finding the perfect surface type for your operation is easier said than done. Here are some considerations to determine what wall material type is best for you:

 

FLEXIBILITY

One of the biggest concerns for any new cleanroom is deciding how flexible your cleanroom should be. If you plan on housing it in the same building for a decade or more, you can probably get by with cheaper wall options.

Drywall coated with epoxy paint was a popular way to create cleanroom walls. You would take your building’s existing walls and paint them with an epoxy coating rated for cleanrooms. But one of the main problems 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 minimal scope for rearranging or expanding the space you started with, and providing the required extraction levels is challenging.

If you think your cleanroom is likely to expand once operations get underway, then a modular cleanroom with moveable wall panels would be a much better option. 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 scratch and damage-resistant materials. 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 arrange for a replacement panel to be easily fit into your existing system in no time.

 

STANDARDS

SoftWall cleanroom walls are the most economical type of modular cleanroom wall construction. Clear and flexible panels are mounted onto a robust steel frame, enclosing the clean area. As the panels overlap, the walls remain an effective barrier to create an ISO class 7-8 cleanroom, but with a higher volume of air required to achieve a higher level of cleanliness, you may need a solid wall panel.

RigidWall cleanroom construction can withstand the high airflow required for ultra-clean environments such as ISO class 5-6 clean zones. But the bright and durable finish makes them an attractive option for ISO class 7-8 cleanrooms.

HardWall cleanroom panels create a flush finish to a cleanroom wall. They are perfect for high-performance cleanroom applications with a range of proprietary features, such as raceway trunking to supply services, flush glazing, doors, and wall and ceiling panels.

 

CLEANING AGENTS

Once you’ve decided on 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 cleaning and disinfection. Pharmaceutical cleanrooms, for example, must be disinfected regularly with very harsh chemicals to prevent microbial buildup. In this situation, you need a HardWall cleanroom wall finish that can hold up to those chemicals without warping, corroding, or melting. Walls made from stainless steel with a cleanroom-specific coating are typically suitable for applications that use super-strong cleaning materials.

On the other side of the coin, if you plan on cleaning your cleanroom regularly but don’t need to use the highest-grade disinfectants, RigidWall cleanrooms wall options like acrylic, static dissipative PVC, or polycarbonate wall panels are a more cost-effective choice. When using lower-grade cleaning materials, you need a wall panel that prevents bacteria and particulate from sticking to it. You won’t have to worry about harsh chemicals eating through coatings and materials, causing a lot of particulate buildup within your cleanroom.

 

DURABILITY

As mentioned before, durability can play a significant role in choosing 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 easily scratch. When the protective coating is breached, the material underneath is exposed and can give off dangerous particulate that can interfere with your processes. Moreover, some wall materials not certified for cleanroom use could outgas or start to give off particulate as they age.

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.

 

COST

Perhaps the most significant consideration for your cleanroom wall material decision is that you have to stick to a specific budget. With cleanrooms, particulate control is the most critical factor, so it stands to reason that a large part of the investment goes into the airflow, the expensive filtration systems, and the energy you use to keep your cleanroom functioning correctly. Because of this, many cleanrooms don’t look as expensive as they are.

Your cleanroom walls can be one of the least costly aspects of your cleanroom as they are relatively low-tech. So, if you’re looking for an area of the project where you can save money, this could be it.

That said, a few companies want their cleanrooms to reflect the expense put into them, so they spend more on their walls. A high cosmetic finish can be achieved if you have extra room in the budget and want to build a cleanroom that looks like a high-tech, cutting-edge facility. But know that you don’t have to have the highest specification of walls to meet your cleanroom standards.

 

When designing a new cleanroom, deciding which cleanroom wall material will work best for your application and convey the image you’re looking for can be difficult. If you have more questions about choosing a suitable wall material for your cleanroom, call the experts at Angstrom! We’re here to help you, and we’d love to provide you with any cleanroom information you want to make the best, informed choice for your company. Call our office at 888-768-6900, or request a quote online today!

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Should You Install Your Cleanroom Yourself or Hire A Pro?

Should You Install Your Cleanroom Yourself or Hire A Pro?

Once you’ve designed and ordered a cleanroom, then comes the good part: installing it and putting it to use. Unlike traditional construction, with modular cleanrooms, you have the option of installing it yourself or having a professional handle the installation. How do you know which cleanroom installation option is right for your organization? That depends on a variety of factors, including timeline, personnel, and complexity.

How much time do you have?

Modular cleanroom design means that cleanrooms can be assembled and installed quickly to meet business needs. But, this depends on your timeline. If your cleanroom installation isn’t an urgent priority, having your own employees handle the installation might work. If you’re on a tight deadline (and you probably are) having a professional installation crew install your cleanroom can get the job done faster and more efficiently.

How confident are you in your personnel?

Your employees are great—if they weren’t, you wouldn’t have hired them. And though they may have lots of experience in facilities maintenance and other operations, cleanrooms can be complicated and complex assembly projects, even with the best of instructions. If you want to ensure that the job is done right and that your employees aren’t overburdened, consider hiring an installation crew for your new cleanroom. 

How complex is your cleanroom design?

It follows that the more complex your cleanroom design, the more time, effort, and difficulty there will be in installing it. This is especially true if your design includes any delicate or specialized equipment. In the case of a complex design, it’s best to leave it to the professionals. 

A simple storage cleanroom, on the other hand, can be simple enough to be installed easily, without a professional installation crew.

Whether you want to install your own cleanroom or have it installed professionally, Angstrom Technology can help. We provide detailed instructions for installation with all of our cleanrooms in case you chose to DIY, but also offer installation services.

 

Cleanroom Terminology: BioSafety Hoods & Cabinets

Cleanroom Terminology: BioSafety Hoods & Cabinets

Anyone in quality assurance or testing who works in or has to design a cleanroom knows how confusing the terminology around cleanrooms can be. To demystify some of the cleanroom design processes, here is an explanation of two potentially confusing terms: biosafety hoods and biosafety cabinets.

What is a biosafety hood?

A biosafety hood is generally known as a fume hood. The purpose of a fume hood is to isolate fumes from materials that may be hazardous and filter those fumes out of your cleanroom space. An exhaust fan at the top of the cleanroom building pulls air, fumes, and airborne contaminants out of the fume hood and exhausts outside of the building.

What is biosafety cabinetry?

Biosafety cabinetry works very similarly to biosafety fume hoods. Biosafety cabinetry uses laminar airflow to filter airborne fumes and contaminants away from the cabinet area, which like a fume hood can be used as a work surface or storage area.

What are the classifications?

There are three classes of biological safety cabinets, Class I, Class II, and Class III. The classification determines the level of protection. Class I protects the user and the surrounding environment, but does not protect the sample. Class II and Class III protect the user, sample, and surrounding environment. Class II is divided into four subcategories, A1, A2, B1, and B2, based on exhaust system and minimum airflow. Class III is the highest level of protection and control. Class III cabinets are also known as “glove boxes” and are completely gas-tight with a double-door autoclave or dunk tank. 

 

Protection

User

Environment

Sample

Class I

Yes

Yes

No

Class II

Yes

Yes

Yes

Class III

Yes—highest 

Yes—highest 

Yes—highest 

 

Special considerations

If your cleanroom requires work with dangerous, hazardous, or toxic substances with airborne contaminants or fumes, your cleanroom likely requires some kind of biosafety cabinetry or hood. The level of protection necessary for your specific application, whether your application requires Class I, Class II, or Class III cabinetry, will depend on the specific operations and substances used in your cleanroom. 

 

Looking for a cleanroom that incorporates biosafety cabinetry? Angstrom Technology can design a cleanroom to accommodate any kind of cabinetry or other equipment necessary for your application.

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Do You Need A Soundproof Cleanroom?

Do You Need A Soundproof Cleanroom?

A cleanroom can be designed to meet the needs of almost any application with any requirements, from controlling static and humidity to even controlling sound. You probably know whether your application requires control for things like humidity and static, but what about sound. Do you need a soundproof cleanroom? Here are some conditions where you might.

Loud Manufacturing Environments

If your facility is a manufacturing environment that requires protective hearing equipment like earplugs ear, soundproofing your cleanroom is a good idea, especially if hearing protection isn’t necessary for your cleanroom processes. Hearing protection might even hinder those processes, as foam from earplugs and earmuffs can hold and shed particles.

If your cleanroom contains the loud equipment and the rest of your processes outside the cleanroom don’t require hearing protection, it can be worthwhile to soundproof your cleanroom so that hearing protection is only required inside. This can greatly reduce hearing-related injuries to your personnel and reduce the cost of hearing protection for your company.

Loud Equipment Containment

If you have a piece of equipment or pieces of equipment that are particularly loud, rather than creating a soundproof cleanroom, a more efficient solution might be creating a soundproof containment room for that equipment. A modular soundproof room can be created around a loud piece of equipment. The benefit to this is reduced noise and need for ear protection in your facility. Additionally, modular containment rooms can be freestanding or can incorporate your existing structure, so no matter where a piece of equipment is housed, it can be soundproofed.

Sensitive Processes

If your cleanroom operation is a particularly sensitive process, a soundproof cleanroom may also be beneficial. Sound is vibration, and delicate operations may be affected by loud noises and strong vibrations, which a soundproof cleanroom can reduce.

Proprietary Information

If your cleanroom operations are top secret or deal with proprietary information which should not leave the walls of the cleanroom, a soundproof cleanroom can also prevent the unplanned and unwanted spread of information by containing sound within the cleanroom.

 

Angstrom Technology’s modular cleanrooms and in-plantinplant buildings can be customized to control sound, if your application requires. Get in touch with one of our design engineers to discuss your project.

 

Cleanroom Terminology: Air Showers

Cleanroom Terminology: Air Showers

Early in the cleanroom design process, all of the cleanroom terminology and jargon can be confusing, especially when designing a controlled environment is a complex process with many factors to take into account. Here’s an explainer on one of those terms, air showers, that may help you determine whether your cleanroom requires an air shower.

What are air showers?

Air showers are enclosed spaces that use high-velocity air jets to remove contaminants from people and items entering the controlled environment. They are placed at all entrances to the cleanroom and are connected to a HEPA or ULPA filtration system. Air showers can be used to prevent contaminants from entering the cleanroom, but they can also be used to remove contaminants from people and objects exiting a quarantine or other controlled environment to prevent cross contamination.

Air showers are particularly useful for cleanrooms requiring a high level of control, such as ISO Classes 1-5. Industries that commonly use air showers include pharmaceuticals, biotech, hospitals, aerospace, and semiconductor manufacturing.

Air Shower Specifics

All air showers function in the same way—air blows onto the person or object in the air shower, blowing loose contaminants off before the person or object enters the cleanroom space. The differences are really in size, materials, and filtration system.

Size

The size of your air shower will depend on what needs to pass through it. If only people will be passing through your air shower, then you won’t need a large one (depending on the number of people). However, if carts with product need to enter your cleanroom, your air shower will need to accommodate the person pushing the cart as well as the cart.

Materials

Air showers are generally constructed from either steel, aluminum, stainless steel, or plastics. The material used may depend on your budget as well as the application and requirements of the air shower.

Filtration system

Air showers can use HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters or ULPA (ultra-low particulate air) filters, depending on your needs. HEPA filters remove particles greater than or equal to 0.3 µm with 99.99 percent efficiency; ULPA filters remove particles greater than or equal to 0.12 µm with 99.9995 percent efficiency.

Angstrom Technology designs cleanrooms that can incorporate a variety of design features, including air showers. Talk to an engineer today to get started designing your cleanroom.