Clean Room Architecture: Designing for a Specialized Purpose

Source: SCOPE

The architects of SCOPE dive into the requirements and restraints of clean room design.

What types of industries require clean room space?
The quick response to this question is any industry as required by a governmental authority or by an organization with industry oversight. But these sci/fi looking spaces, that can vary in size from a single room to entire factory floors, are used in a variety of industries from pharmaceutical companies to microelectronics manufacturers. You’ll also find clean rooms in medical device production, the defense industry, university laboratories, telecommunications, food processing, and more.

When designing clean room space, what do you first take into consideration?
There are three things that matter most initially. First, what level of cleanliness does the process require? Second, what equipment will be housed in the clean room space? And third, what is the flow of product and people into and out of the clean room area? Getting the architect and engineer working together from the start is key since their collaboration brings about an informed result that successfully addresses the interface between the equipment and those who work with it.  People can make mistakes. Knowing how to design space that actually encourages best practices can avoid a lot of headaches down the road.

Elaborate on what is meant by the level of cleanliness of a clean room space.
For every cubic foot of air contained in a clean room area, there is a corresponding allowable particulate count based on a required level of cleanliness. The ISO Rating system is used to identify the maximum allowable amount of particulate in a given clean room space. To ensure proper air quality, different air filtration systems can be employed such as a laminar airflow system. It’s important to understand from the start how these filtration systems work since any one of them could impact the functionality of other equipment in the room.

How do clean room operators and product enter and exit a clean room space without causing contamination?
This is a great question and important to the successful operation of a clean room space because contamination can shut down an operation and repairs can be expensive. To your question, clean rooms are designed to create positive air pressure which forces clean-room grade filtered air out of the clean room space. This positive air pressure ensures a controlled level of particulate in the air. In nearly all cases, a clean room’s ceiling grid is constructed with gaskets to create an air-tight system. The HEPA filter system might be designed to be accessible through a cat walk installed above the ceiling plane for ease of access though other designs are possible. Additionally, windows may be installed with a talk-through system allowing voice communication without air transfer.

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