For many different types of production a cleanroom is required. Cleanrooms provide environments with low, almost NO levels of contaminants, helping to ensure that certain standards are met. Once just the bivouac of larger companies, cleanrooms are now available to anyone and you might be surprised as how low the cost and maintenance can be. In this article we are going to talk about a common example: the softwall cleanroom. We’ll talk about some of the benefits, provide you with some examples, and in the end you’ll have a great idea at how accessible this technology has become. Let’s start with a few basics.
What exactly is a softwall cleanroom?
A softwall cleanroom is a type of cleanroom that has soft walls, typically vinyl, and generally supported with a sturdy, steel frame. They are a type of ‘modular cleanroom’, which is a family of portable cleanrooms that vary in form and function. While this sounds a bit simple, these cleanrooms may be outfitted much as a standard cleanroom, including HEPA compliant FFUs for decontaminating the air, UV lighting to further kill bacteria, and more. Now, you might think that these are completely inferior to a ‘wall and tile’ unit painstakingly installed in a small complex but you might be pleasantly surprised to find that these smaller units have some great benefits of their own.
The benefits of a softwall cleanroom and other modular cleanrooms
So, what can get you get from these miniature, personal cleanrooms? Quite a lot, actually. We will go into some examples of actual units but first let’s discuss the overall benefits. A softwall cleanroom comes with a score of pluses, such as:
- Overall Cost efficiency – These portable cleanrooms are not only affordable to purchase, but also quite efficient when it comes to energy consumption. With larger cleanrooms you have much higher energy requirements but these cleanrooms are tiny. Many have optional add-ons that make them even cheaper to run, such as energy-conservation control panels that let you set them so that they run at reduced energy levels during off times to maintain cleanliness standards while saving on your electric bill.
- Ready to go quickly – These units can be put together and put into production with speed and ease. A standard cleanroom can take months to set up and prepare it to be operation but a modular, softwall cleanroom can be set up and ready to go in hours or days.
- Easy maintenance – With a standard cleanroom any damage to a wall can have a huge hit on production, as the section in question must be compliant for production use. With a softwall cleanroom you can simply replace the damaged panel and it is ready for use quickly with very little impact on your production deadlines and requirements.
- High performance – With the high number of upgrades available you can really customize a unit to streamline it for your specific needs. Pressure and temperature control (with hardwall versions), HEPA filters with .3 micron rating, UV lighting, and more. Backup energy units can even be installed to ensure that the cleanroom doesn’t become compromised in the event of a power outage. It’s a lot of options in a tiny package.
Valuline Preconfigured softwall cleanroom
Our first example is a basic, efficient cleanroom that you can upgrade as required. The units sport a powder steel frame with static-dissipating vinyl paneling. Entry to the unit is accomplished through vinyl strip-shielding and these units come preconfigured with the exceptions of the fans (in the standard
“Units which already include HEPA compliant fans are available. “
models, though units which already include HEPA compliant fans are available). Lighting is accomplished with energy-efficient LEDS and more may be added if required. These units are excellent for sensitive equipment as well as material uses (processing, packaging, and testing). Setting one up only takes a matter of hours and tools for assembly are included with these units. Casters may be purchased optionally for easy repositioning or relocation of your softwall cleanroom if desired.
Softwall Explosion-proof cleanroom
If you think that a softwall cleanroom is a fragile thing, then think again. This particular softwall cleanroom is designed so that potted fittings (compliant with NEC Class 1, Division 1) isolate each component via means of expanding cement to isolate components from any accidental ignition scenarios. Other aspects of the design are specially designed to isolate or immunize various components from accidental ignition or damage. Examples of these features are as follows:
- Explosive proof 40W LED lighting – Compliant with NEC Class 1/Division 1 as well as Groups C and D standards, this LED lighting is rated to perform at 3600 lumens
- Explosion proof power module – NEC Class 1 and Division 1 for hazardous locations rated.
- Explosion proof power control switches – Utilizes 2 UL listed switches.
- Explosion proof HEPA fan unit – NEC Class 1/Division 1 for hazardous locations compliant, this fan has sealed and non-sparking components, a grounded filter, and a potted conduit to help minimize or avoid damage.
- Quick disconnect conduits – When threaded together these conduits form a seal allowing for the easy setup of potted conduits for your softwall cleanroom.
- Optional upgrade – For added peace of mind, an LED light set and power backup supply are available as preparation in the event of a power failure.
Some final words on softwall cleanrooms
While we have listed a few examples, many more variations of the softwall cleanroom are out there to help you to customize the cost-efficient cleanroom that will meet your requirements. If air pressure concerns exist, we recommend employing a ‘hardwall cleanroom’, as pressurization management is one caveat of employing a softwall model. Aside from this, there are many functions which you may employ your cleanroom for, just check the specific requirements for your manufacturing or equipment needs and the individual listings for the cleanrooms which you review will let you know immediately if they meet the required standards. Your new cleanroom is quite affordable and can be ready to use in hours, so what are you waiting for?!