The Value of Cleanrooms for Semiconductor Applications

The Value of Cleanrooms for Semiconductor Applications

Semiconductors are a vital component of almost every electronic item we rely on in a modern world: cell phones, vehicles, microwaves, computers, televisions — the list goes on. When there are shortages due to a lack of materials or slow production, that delay is felt up the supply chain by every consumer who is buying a new phone or computer, or even renting a vehicle. 

Safe and efficient manufacturing of semiconductors is essential for life to continue unchanged. To keep customers happy and companies profitable, the manufacturing of semiconductors needs to happen in an environment where contamination can be strictly controlled, reducing the risk of product failures and losses.

The solution? Semiconductor cleanrooms. To illustrate why this piece of equipment is so valuable to the semiconductor industry, let’s first understand the purpose of cleanrooms and how that can help safeguard sensitive applications.

What is a Cleanroom?

A cleanroom is a controlled environment where pollutants like dust, airborne microbes, and aerosol particles are filtered out in order to provide the cleanest area possible. 

For manufactured products that are easily affected by contaminants or airborne particles, like semiconductors for example, a cleanroom can provide the necessary control over environmental factors like air quality, temperature, humidity, static electricity, and more.

Cleanroom classifications, designated by the International Standards Organization (ISO), define the minimal level of cleanliness required for cleanrooms in document 14644-1. 

For semiconductor cleanrooms, the required control over environmental conditions is especially strict: Generally, semiconductor applications, including wafer fab and semiconductor assembly, require cleanrooms to comply with ISO Class 3 or cleaner standards.

The Value of Semiconductor Cleanrooms 

For better results in semiconductor manufacturing and assembly, cleanrooms can provide the best environment for productive, efficient, and safe work to take place. Here are a few of the advantages cleanrooms can offer semiconductor applications:

Reliable Control

Cleanrooms are designed to establish strict control over the environment and maintain that control at all times. With powerful filtration and HVAC systems working to replace the air with clean, treated, and virtually particle-free air, you can trust the environment to remain stable while employees are completing their sensitive work.

All materials used in cleanroom construction are specifically sourced to be non-particle shedding and non outgassing. They’re chosen for durability and performance in any conditions. They won’t degrade or corrode due to cleaning, impact, or regular use.

Consistent Product Quality

Silicon wafers are extremely vulnerable, where even a single particle of dust can corrupt an entire chip or device. When you can rely on steady temperature, relative humidity, and air quality levels, product quality can also remain steady, even increase. 

Repeatable Results

Better quality products and increased production in a controlled environment is a repeatable process. Scaling production is a matter of replicating the conditions required to produce excellent quality semiconductors.

Safer Working Conditions

A cleanroom and its classification standards protect the products being manufactured from failure due to contamination, but they also create a safer environment for workers to perform tasks in semiconductor cleanrooms, which can involve handling toxic materials and highly sensitive processes.

Cost Savings

Ultimately, fewer product failures and consistent quality pays off. With the risk of losses and injury reduced, your company can enjoy significant savings. 

Semiconductor cleanrooms are not cheap to implement and operate, but they can secure profitability in ways you can’t replicate with other control methods. A high-quality cleanroom can streamline semiconductor manufacturing. 

To learn more about semiconductor cleanrooms and get help designing your own, contact the cleanroom experts at Angstrom Technology. We design, build, and install cleanrooms for a wide variety of industries to meet any classification standard. Our cleanrooms are the turnkey solution you’ve been looking for. Get a free quote for your project today.

Turnkey vs Non-Turnkey Cleanroom Construction

Turnkey vs Non-Turnkey Cleanroom Construction

Building a new cleanroom is a highly individual process, as it must be tailored to each facility’s needs and cleanroom classification. And this process of customization takes time. While modular construction with prefabricated panels can shorten the lead time of your project, the more “custom” your cleanroom is, generally the more time and money that must go into it.

If you need a complete and custom cleanroom that’s ready for immediate use, a turnkey cleanroom may be the ideal solution for you. Let’s explore the differences between the turnkey vs. non-turnkey cleanroom construction process to see which may serve your project needs better, be produced faster, and offer better value for your investment.

What’s the Difference Between Turnkey vs. Non-Turnkey Cleanroom Construction?

The way you move through this process of designing and installing the ideal cleanroom is significantly different if you choose a turnkey vs. non-turnkey cleanroom construction.

Non-turnkey construction refers to the practice of building a cleanroom step by step, where every component is installed separately, often by different contractors and experts, until the finished cleanroom takes shape.

Turnkey cleanroom solutions are facilitated by one party. The entire project is managed in-house, from planning and design through cleanroom construction and installation. You order the specialized cleanroom you need, and the complete solution is delivered and ready to use.

To break this down a bit further, let’s look into what you can expect with turnkey cleanroom construction vs. non-turnkey construction.

Turnkey vs. Non-Turnkey Cleanroom Construction

Turnkey solutions are a great way to get a highly specialized cleanroom — and save your company money and time. Non-turnkey cleanrooms require you to be more involved in the design and implementation, which has its own pros and cons. 

Here’s what you can expect from turnkey vs. non-turnkey cleanroom construction:

Turnkey Cleanroom Solutions

You can save more than just time by finding a turnkey cleanroom solution versus going the traditional route.

Simplified Cleanroom Construction

Turnkey cleanrooms are an end-to-end solution. A thorough planning stage ensures the finished product will be perfectly suited to your project needs. One facilitator for your project, a cleanroom expert, will take time to understand your project goals, cleanroom classification standard, and any wants and needs you may have for your cleanroom.

Highly Customized Cleanroom Solution

Experts handle the entire project from start to finish. They’ll use the highest quality materials for durability and performance, using subcontractors they trust to ensure a seamless finished project that includes all the trades and features you need. 

Expert Advice and Service

Even though your project is managed by someone else, it’s easy to customize your cleanroom to be exactly what you need. Cleanroom experts will take you through the process so you can be as involved with as many design decisions as you want.

Since these experts will understand your cleanroom inside and out, they’ll be the best resource if there’s ever a problem. For regular maintenance to repair, your turnkey cleanroom provider will be able to help you figure out what you need and solve any problems quickly and efficiently.

Accurate Budget and Timeline Estimate

Part of the project plan will be to estimate the budget and timeline of your project, and you can trust your cleanroom engineer to stick to it. This means a turnkey cleanroom can often be completed faster than in the non-turnkey cleanroom construction process.

When you choose a turnkey solution, you can entrust the process to experts and expect the complete cleanroom delivered exactly how and when you need it.

Non-Turnkey Cleanroom Construction

Non-turnkey cleanroom construction may take time, but if you’d prefer to handle all of the details yourself, it offers you more control over the final product.

Burden of Responsibility

With non-turnkey cleanroom construction, the party responsible for understanding the project inside and out — is you. If you know a lot about cleanroom design already, you may feel prepared to make all of the decisions for what materials to use and how to install them. 

You’ll likely gather great advice from the contractors and designers you work with, but this could also lead to differing opinions and an overwhelm of information.

Complete and Manual Customization

One advantage of non-turnkey construction is that all the customizations are entirely in your hands, but you’ll be responsible for doing thorough research to find out what’s possible and cost-effective. You’ll be in charge of locating experts for each component of the cleanroom, and have to trust they can integrate each system with other parts of the project. 

Complicated Maintenance and Repair

If something goes wrong with your cleanroom, you’ll have to track down the right person for the job — and if you don’t fully understand the problem, it could take more time and money to find a technician with the right experience.

Extended Timeline and Budget

Non-turnkey cleanroom construction has a tendency to extend longer than expected because it requires coordination across many schedules, waiting time for material availability, and additional time for product research. 

For these reasons, non-turnkey construction is more challenging to confine to a strict budget — both monetarily and temporally — as working with different contractors, products, and vendors are variables not easily defined.

Is a Turnkey Cleanroom Solution Right for You?

Whether you’re starting from scratch with a brand new cleanroom or need to upgrade or redesign an existing one, a turnkey cleanroom could offer your facility some serious advantages. A turnkey cleanroom solution may be right for you if:

  • You need a ready-to-use cleanroom for your project on an accelerated timeline
  • You need a cleanroom that is easily adaptable for future projects
  • You need a highly specialized cleanroom to meet ISO Class 5 or cleaner standards
  • You need to redesign a cleanroom to meet more stringent ISO standards
  • You need a cleanroom designed and built to meet specific budget requirements

Angstrom Technology is a leader in the modular cleanroom industry. Whatever the size and classification of your project, we can deliver the turnkey cleanroom that fits your specifications and exceeds your expectations. Reach out to our team to get started today.

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Where Should I Install My Cleanroom?

Where Should I Install My Cleanroom?

Cleanroom installation requires as much careful planning as cleanroom design. When deciding on the best place to install your cleanroom, you’ll need to consider a few factors. First, take a look at your classification. Your cleanroom classification will determine what type of cleanroom you can build, how it should be built, and even what materials you can use in cleanroom construction. 

Once you know what kind of cleanroom you can build, you can consider if it will be more efficient or cost effective to install your cleanroom in your existing building or build a freestanding cleanroom. Let’s go over this process in more detail.

 

Consider Your Cleanroom Classification

Your first stop on the road to a complete cleanroom installation is to look closely at your cleanroom classification. A cleanroom classification defines how “clean” your environment needs to be, specifically noting the allowances for particle sizes and air change rates within your cleanroom. 

Your cleanroom’s classification will determine a lot about how your cleanroom can be built and what materials can be used. Depending on the strictness of your cleanroom standards, there may be certain building practices more suited to your needs. For example, cleanrooms with higher cleanliness standards, like aerospace cleanrooms and medical cleanrooms, will have limited options for cleanroom types and materials in order to control airflow and particle size, and limit any potential contamination as much as possible. 

 

Cleanroom Classification and Cleanroom Installation

Higher cleanroom classifications will require more complete control over particle count with frequent air changes and fine adjustments to temperature, humidity, pressure, and static; and filter out not only airborne particulates but also control surface particulates. These types of cleanrooms will likely require the installation of separate, powerful HVAC and filtration systems, and will only use materials that are non-particle shedding and able to be thoroughly cleaned. 

If your requirements are less stringent, like in some automotive cleanrooms and plastics manufacturing industries, you will likely be less limited in your material choices and cleanroom types. If you have the room, you may be able to install your cleanroom right in your existing building, and adapt the existing HVAC to control your cleanroom environment.

Whether you can adapt your space for cleanroom installation or you need to construct a separate, freestanding unit, your cleanroom classification will be the guide for your cleanroom design and build. 

 

Where to Install Your Cleanroom

With a full understanding of your cleanroom classification requirements, consider the space and structural demands of your work. Your existing space or designated cleanroom area should leave plenty of room for necessary equipment, furniture, storage, and personnel. 

You should also consider your building’s location before your cleanroom installation. Is your building located in an area that experiences more traffic and pollution? Is it next to a manufacturing facility, highway, railway, or shipping terminal? While these might not discourage your location choice, keep in mind they might increase the demand on your cleanroom’s filters, requiring them to be replaced more frequently or the implementation of a strategic airflow pattern to manage contaminants.

 

Build in Your Space

If your cleanroom classification and available space permit it, you may be able to install your cleanroom in your existing building. Cleanrooms can be built in your manufacturing facility, warehouse, laboratory, or even within another cleanroom. If you’re building a cleanroom using your existing structure, make sure you have enough room for everything it needs to operate, as well as space to allow easy movement and accessibility. You can either build the cleanroom traditionally or complete the cleanroom installation conveniently and quickly using modular cleanroom panels. 

The advantages of modular cleanrooms are that they can be installed in less time and for a reduced cost. Fewer people are needed to install a modular cleanroom, which means a quicker lead time, so you can have your cleanroom up and running in just a few days. Modular panels can also be easily customized, repurposed, or modified as your projects and needs evolve.

 

Construct a Free-Standing Cleanroom

Using HardWall, SoftWall, or RigidWall panels, install your cleanroom in a convenient and accessible place in your facility. Your cleanroom will be designed with the ideal layout to accommodate all equipment, furniture, and employees. The cleanroom can be freestanding and attached to the floor, or suspended from a strong ceiling grid. 

When your cleanroom is installed, you’ll also be able to set up and install the HVAC and filtration systems to create your optimal airflow and air change rate, as well as control pressure, temperature, and humidity within the cleanroom environment. Standardized systems and fixtures like fan filter units, lighting modules, and cleanroom furniture make the installation quicker and simpler.

 

Remodel Your Space for Cleanroom Installation

Depending on the space you’re using to construct your cleanroom, it may require some preparation before the modular panels can be set up and installed. You may need to create more space, adapt existing systems for utilities, heating, and cooling, or hook up new units to connect to your building’s power and ducts. You may also need to add new flooring or insulation in order to meet requirements and prepare the space for cleanroom installation. Always consult your cleanroom classification for guidelines about what materials are acceptable in your cleanroom environment.

With detailed planning and a complete knowledge of your needs and cleanroom requirements, you can install your cleanroom in a place that is convenient, accessible, and compliant with your cleanroom classification. If you know you need a cleanroom, but you’re not sure where you should put it, seek out advice from professionals. The cleanroom design experts at Angstrom Technology can take a look at your needs and your facility, and offer you the perfect solution. To talk with our professional team, give us a call or reach out to us online

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.