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All About Cleanroom Walls

January 12, 2023
cleanroom job site, modular cleanroom walls partially erected
Figure 1. Cleanroom modular walls

Users have multiple choices when determining what type of cleanroom wall they will use in their hard wall cleanroom. Choices include modular wall systems and traditional stick built gyp-board walls.

Modular wall systems are a very popular choice for hardwall cleanroom walls due to the excellent variety of surface choices, economical cost, durability, and fast installation. The panels are prefabricated in the factory then transported to the job site and erected using anodized aluminum extrusions (base channel, connecting posts, corner posts, and cap channel) to create modular cleanroom walls.

four construction workers, assembling cleanroom walls
Figure 2. Cleanroom modular walls being installed
modular cleanroom interior, white cleanroom walls, vinyl floor
Figure 3. Modular cleanroom walls
modular wall cross sections, melamine/honeycomb, gypboard/foam, FRP/aluminum honeycomb
Figure 4. Cleanroom modular wall material options

Modular cleanrooms walls offer a wide range of choices for both the surface and core of a wall panel to meet customer’s hardwall cleanroom technical needs. Wall surfaces include vinyl, melamine FRP, painted aluminum and many others. Other modular wall advantages are durability, fast on-site installation, and easy to modify in future.

Standard Modular Cleanroom Wall Panel Options:

  • Most economical – melamine or vinyl on honeycomb core
  • Chemical resistance – FRP on aluminum honeycomb core
  • Electronics - Painted aluminum on honeycomb core

Special Cleanroom Wall Options:

  • Static Dissipative Painted Aluminum – this option helps reduce ESD product loss in electronic cleanrooms
  • Insulating - vinyl coated gyp-board with foam core, painted aluminum with polyiso-urethane core for when cleanroom is in non-conditioned space or is a refrigerator cleanroom
  • Durability - stainless steel
  • High Visibility – floor to ceiling cleanroom glass windows
  • Branding – colored cleanroom wall panels to make distinctive appearance
  • Security Cleanroom Modular Walls – cannot be disassembled from exterior
red modular cleanroom exterior, floor to ceiling glass windows
Figure 5. Floor to ceiling glass windows
white epoxy paint on gypboard cleanroom walls
Figure 6. Epoxy painted gypboard cleanroom walls
Figure 7. Modular cleanroom wall video

Older Cleanroom Wall Options:

  • Epoxy painted gypboard walls
    • Epoxy paint provides smooth non particulating cleanroom wall surface
    • Advantage – can be built by same carpenters and painters doing office space
    • Disadvantage – epoxy paint will peel and gypboard soften under repeated chemical cleaning
    • Disadvantage – difficult /messy to make cleanroom modifications in future
  • FRP screwed or glued on gypboard walls
    • FRP provides smooth non particulating cleanroom wall surface
    • Advantage – more chemically resistant than epoxy paint
    • Disadvantage - difficult / messy to make cleanroom modifications in future.
softwall cleanroom, clear vinyl curtain walls
Figure 8. Clear Vinyl Walls - Softwall Cleanroom

Modular and stick-built cleanrooms are called “hardwall” cleanrooms. A non hardwall option is the softwall cleanrooms which use clear vinyl curtain walls to prevent contamination from entering the cleanroom space. You can push and the vinyl curtain will move hence the name softwall. The vinyl walls are hung from aluminum or painted steel frame (similar to a shower curtain).

  • The cost of a softwall cleanroom is comparable to that of same size and class modular cleanroom.
  • Door entrances are created by strip curtain walls which personnel can push thru to enter
  • Small size softwall cleanrooms are often mounted on casters so they can be moved around a factory
  • Softwall cleanrooms are typically one pass and do not have air conditioning
  • Disadvantage: It is very difficult to clean vinyl curtains since they are not rigid and any soap / cleaner residue is hard to remove.

Summary

Customer choices for their cleanroom walls include modular walls, traditional stick built gyp-board walls and vinyl soft-wall. Modular cleanroom walls are very popular due to the wide variety of wall surfaces, economical cost, fast installation, durability, and easy modifications.   

Property American Cleanroom Systems 2023

The author Anthony Chien has worked at American Cleanroom Systems for past 10 years. He has more than 40 years of cleanroom experience. Anthony has a BS and MS in Electrical Engineering specializing in semiconductor manufacturing from the University of Illinois. American Cleanroom Systems is a design build modular cleanroom manufacturer based in Rancho Santa Margarita CA. It is expert in ISO-5 thru ISO-8 (class 100 to class 100k) modular cleanrooms for pharmaceutical cleanrooms, medical device cleanrooms, and industrial cleanrooms.
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