Changing Demand For Modular Cleanrooms

Dec 01, 2011
Volume 23, Issue 12

A modular cleanroom construction is typically a freestanding, solid and robust structure that is suitable for use within an existing cleanroom, laboratory, manufacturing area or warehouse. A modular cleanroom uses off-the-shelf proprietary components that can be used to build a facility that meets the customer’s exact requirements, such as size, classification, lighting and hard or soft wall.

The demand for modular cleanrooms is increasing and more processes are benefiting from a cleanroom environment. However, cleanrooms can be expensive. With the recent years of cutbacks that many industries have felt, organisations have had to rethink their business strategies and become leaner in the way they manage processes. Modular cleanrooms are part of that leaner way of thinking. With traditional cleanrooms, retrospective modifications can be difficult and costly so future demands must be accounted for in the initial specification. Modular solutions are more flexible as expansions and relocations can be accommodated much more easily. Dramatic design improvements have also led to an increased demand for modular cleanrooms; for instance, the use solid, clear wall panels have improved perception. They are no longer seen as the temporary, low budget option and now offer a reliable alternative to traditional cleanrooms.

The benefits and drawbacks

Modular cleanrooms are bespoke in nature. If you think back to the days when you may have played with Lego, you were building with bricks what, in effect, could have been off the shelf. You could build any shape and size of building, space rocket, car or whatever your imagination wanted whether large or small. Modular cleanrooms also use off-the-shelf proprietary components and when combined they create a customised cleanroom. A traditional cleanroom will typically require some form of alteration to a building, which in turn could involve planning permission (causing time delays and costs) whereas a modular cleanroom can be built within an existing area and made to fit.

One of the other principal advantages of a modular cleanroom is that it means a first step into a cleanroom environment does not necessarily have to be a costly exercise. You can buy a modular cleanroom to accommodate immediate needs and then expand it (as long as you have the space) as contracts grow and production develops. In cases of relocation, modular cleanroom can also easily be dismantled and then rebuilt and validated in new premises.

Small modular cleanrooms can be built and fully functional within 30 minutes (for example - 1.8 x 1.8 x 2.3m, 1 x fan filter unit to ISO Class 7) and larger modular cleanroom (for example 14 x 14 x 2.55, 35m x fan filter unit to ISO Class7) take about three days, which includes CAD drawing sign off, installation and validation.

Modular cleanrooms also offer benefits in airflow as they have a gap all the way around the bottom of the room, which ensures even airflow right and minimal turbulence. It also means there are no corners or areas where particles can be retained. The positive airflow prevents airborne particles from re-entering the room through the gap. This simple design element means that ventilation units are not necessary, which is a potential cost saving.

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