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A Guide to Choosing Modular Cleanrooms for Startups

A Guide to Choosing Modular Cleanrooms for Startups

Numerous manufacturing processes require extremely stringent conditions that only a cleanroom can offer. Cleanrooms require meticulous design due to their complex mechanical systems and high construction, operation, and energy expenses.

Many firms employ industrial cleanrooms, which are constructed in accordance with international standards, to produce products devoid of dirt and bacteria. Industries that work with pharmaceuticals, food processing, chemicals, electronics, airplanes, and missile equipment benefit greatly from cleanrooms.

Choosing a cleanroom for a new business or product is easy. There are many things to think about and options to choose from, but focusing first on needs will make it easier to decide.

How To Choose A Cleanroom

The first thing to consider when choosing the right cleanroom is government rules, ISO guidelines, or customer needs. You need to go through different cleanroom classifications to choose what suits your needs.

Examples include government regulations USP 797, ISO 14644-5:2004, and guidelines for cleanroom operating standards. USP 797 describes precise requirements for manufacturing pharmaceutical items.

The classifications will often state the required level or quality of cleanliness. This provides a fantastic starting point when hunting for the ideal cleanroom. Cost is a crucial factor to consider when launching a new product line or business.

Prices can differ for custom-built cleanrooms with fixed walls, free-standing, modular, hard-wall, or soft-wall prefabricated cleanroom systems, and systems with soft walls. Most of the time, rooms with fixed walls are the most expensive, and clean rooms with soft walls are the least expensive. The cost will also depend on the size, shape, configuration, and accessories.

The size and shape of the room will depend on where the cleanroom is located in the building and how many processes and workers will be using it.

In addition to meeting performance needs, many companies place a lot of importance on how a cleanroom looks. They want a high-tech image that looks appealing to draw in new customers.

Advantages Of Modular Cleanrooms

The first ever cleanrooms were made in 1962 by an American physicist, Willis Whitfield, in  Sandia National Laboratories. Back then, cleanrooms were not feasible, environment-friendly, or easy to use.

After years of transformation, manufacturers came up with the concept of modular cleanrooms, which fixed all the previous issues. Cleanrooms that are made of modules and can stand on their own have many advantages over cleanrooms with fixed walls.

Using modular rooms reduces the time it takes to design, engineer, and build, lowering costs. Modular rooms can be taken apart and moved to other places or even sold as an asset because they are not part of a larger building. Cleanrooms with fixed walls don’t have this kind of freedom. To make a modular cleanroom bigger, you can just take down a wall and add another module.

The room’s prefabricated design lets it be moved to a different location, changed into a different shape, or split into several smaller rooms. All of the modules for handling air and filtering it are built into the ceiling of a modular room. As part of the design, hookups for electricity and plumbing are built in.

It takes a lot less time to build a modular room than it does to build a room with permanent walls. Due to the amount of planning, engineering, and different trades that go into building a fixed-wall cleanroom can take several months.

But you can build a pretty sophisticated modular room in a week or two. When a modular cleanroom is put together on-site, it causes less disruption to work around it than a cleanroom with fixed walls.

Businesses may save money on taxes by using modular cleanroom systems. Most of the time, they are not considered to be part of the building, so they can be diminished faster than built-in cleanrooms with fixed walls. Tax consultants can tell you about specific tax breaks.

Construction Considerations For Modular, Solid Wall Cleanrooms

There are two main kinds of modular, solid-wall cleanrooms: those that recycle air and those that don’t. The best type of room for a company will depend on what it needs to do with its products and processes.

Class 10,000 cleanrooms let 10,000 particles for every cubic foot into the room.

These cleanrooms recycle the old air and pump in newly filtered air between 40 and 60 times an hour.

Recirculating cleanrooms keeps the air inside the room from mixing with air from outside. This lets the temperature and humidity be better controlled. The air is sent back to the high-efficiency particulate absorbing (HEPA) filters on the ceiling of the cleanroom.

This is done by putting air return chambers in the walls of the room or running pipes through the walls of the building. Since the air in the recirculating cleanrooms has already been cleaned, the HEPA filters will have less dirt to deal with. If there is less dirt on the filters, they will last longer and work better.

Non-recirculating rooms, sometimes called “single pass” rooms, pull air from the room’s ceiling into the HEPA filters. The air is then blown into the cleanroom through a space about two inches wide under the walls or through wall grills that can be moved. Since there is no return air ductwork in a non-recirculating cleanroom, it costs less to build than a recirculating room.

Maintenance Considerations

Regular cleanroom maintenance is simple and is needed to ensure that the room works well and is certified. A solution of deionized water and 10% alcohol is used to clean the inside of the building every day or before each shift. The floors of clean rooms are also mopped regularly.

Depending on what the product needs, vertical surfaces like walls can be cleaned less often. All contact points, like door handles and equipment that people use, should also be wiped down daily or every shift, depending on the process’s needs.

The pre-filter in HEPA filters must be changed every so often, depending on how much dust is in the air. The HEPA filter modules don’t need much maintenance, but they do need to be tested and approved every year. The airflow and leaks are also checked as part of a cleanroom’s regular certification. Dust-spot ratings for air filters should be between 35% and 80%, or they should have a Minimum Efficiency Rating Value (MERV) between 8 and 13. The better the defense for both the hardware and the people inside, the higher the rating.

A cleanroom can be certified by either its own employees or by a company from the outside. Most companies would rather have a third-party company do the certification because it gives them an impartial analysis. Depending on the needs of the customer or the product, independent certification may be needed.

Finding the right cleanroom for a new product or business requires balancing a lot of different factors, such as process requirements, cost, performance, and building. The decision-making process is not hard, but you will find it easier to specify and design a cleanroom if you understand the requirements, rules, operation, and options.