Modular Cleanroom FAQs

Our experts answer some of the most common questions we receive about cleanrooms

Modular Cleanroom Frequently Asked Questions

Looking for more information on modular cleanrooms? You’re in the right place. Below, we’ve answered some of Starrco’s frequently asked questions regarding modular cleanroom design, construction, classification, and more.

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Modular Cleanroom FAQs

1. What Is a Modular Cleanroom?

A modular cleanroom is a cleanroom that is quickly and easily constructed from prefabricated components to meet any classification requirements necessary. While it can be just as permanent as a cleanroom built with studs and drywall, a modular cleanroom can also be easily reconfigured to meet your facility’s changing needs.

2. How Versatile Is a Modular Cleanroom?

A modular cleanroom can be used for a wide range of industrial applications, including pharmaceutical manufacturing, semiconductor manufacturing, meteorology labs, medical device assembly areas, and more. With optimal reconfiguration abilities, various wall finish options, and a number of additional features and technologies, a modular cleanroom can accommodate whatever specifications your application requires.

3. How Much Does a Modular Cleanroom Cost?

It depends. In many cases, the cost of a modular cleanroom is considerably less than that of a traditionally constructed one, simply because of the faster and easier construction and installation process. That said, modular cleanroom cost can vary based on a number of factors, including (but not limited to): 

  • Size
  • Type (SoftWall, HardWall, RigidWall)
  • Classification
  • Design complexity
  • Additional features and technologies
4. Do Modular Cleanroom Systems Meet Class 100 Conditions?

Yes. Modular cleanroom systems are engineered to meet even the most stringent environmental conditions. Their various components work together to keep constant control of airflow, filtration, pressure, temperature, and humidity.

5. What Are the Advantages of Modular Cleanrooms Over Traditionally Constructed Ones?

When it comes to modular vs. traditional cleanroom construction, modular cleanrooms are quicker, cleaner, and more convenient to install. And, because installations are so quick, you’ll experience minimal interruption to your workflow. Traditionally constructed cleanrooms can hold up your production process for months, while modular cleanrooms can be installed in just days. Modular cleanrooms are also more versatile, with the ability to be constructed anywhere (even in an existing facility) and reconfigured to meet an application or production line’s changing needs.

6. What Is the Modular Cleanroom Installation Process Like?

The modular cleanroom installation process is quick. Depending on the size of the modular cleanroom, many can be installed in just days. With individually labeled components that are pre-cut, pre-mitered, and pre-finished, the process is streamlined for efficiency. All modular cleanroom components are designed according to detailed CAD drawings for ensured precision and hassle-free installation. 

For more information on what the modular cleanroom installation process might involve, check out our blog on Understanding the Modular Cleanroom Construction Process.

7. How Do You Decide Which Cleanroom Classification You Need?

A cleanroom’s classification or classification standard refers to the maximum acceptable number of particles (by size) in the air, per cubic meter. So, when choosing your cleanroom’s classification, the most important thing to consider is what size particle you need to filter out. 

For example, if you’re working with microelectronics, even the smallest particle sizes can affect your products and you’ll need to meet strict cleanroom classification standards. But if you’re working with traditionally manufactured automotive parts, you probably just need to limit larger particles from affecting things like sensor performance. While you still need to adhere to some level of filtration and cleanliness, you won’t need to meet the most stringent of them. 

When it comes to deciding on cleanroom classification, it’s always best to talk to the experts.

8. Is It Bad to Build a Higher Classification Cleanroom Than You Need?

Production-wise, not really. Financially, yes. Every time you move to a more stringent classification, you need to push twice as much air through the cleanroom. And when the cost of moving and filtering air is one of your most substantial operating costs, it’s going to translate to much larger payments. For this reason, it’s best to stick to the lowest cleanroom classification needed to meet the needs of your application.

9. How Does Cleanroom Classification Affect Cost?

Simply put, the stricter your cleanroom classification, the higher your upfront and operational costs. The more filtered your cleanroom’s air needs to be, the more fan filter units you need, and the more air movement you need. That, on top of the cost of any additional features and technologies (e.g. gowning rooms, air showers, etc.) you need, adds up.

10. How Do Temperature and Humidity Control Affect Cleanroom Operation Costs?

Temperature and humidity control in your cleanroom should be paid close attention to when it comes to cost. It’s important to remember that humidity is relative to the temperature it’s at. Driving lower temperatures or lower humidities means increasing efforts to dry or chill air, which all leads to paying more for operating costs.

11. What Are the Advantages of Modular Cleanroom Construction When Leasing or Renting a Building?

The versatility of modular cleanrooms is extremely advantageous when it comes to installing in a leased or rented facility. If you’re operating in a rented facility, you don’t know where you’ll be 5-10 years from now — but, just like any other piece of equipment, you can pick up your modular cleanroom, move it to another facility, and reconfigure it to meet the specific needs of that space. This is a huge benefit that many clients don’t realize at first, but could save them a lot of time and money in the long run. 

12. Are There Tax Breaks for Modular Cleanrooms?

Yes. If you’re planning to build a modular cleanroom, you may receive significant tax relief when compared to traditional construction. This is because modular cleanrooms are classified as tangible personal property, which means you may be able to accelerate your depreciation under Section 179 of the Internal Revenue Code; and, you may be able to fully depreciate your modular cleanroom the year you buy it, instead of that process taking 39 years like it does with traditional construction.

13. What’s the Difference Between a Cleanroom and a Controlled Environment?

Cleanrooms and controlled environments are different. Generally, controlled environments meet some of the same requirements as a cleanroom — they just don’t go as far, or in-depth. Controlled environments require temperature control, segregation, and pressurization. Cleanrooms require those components, and much more (think humidity control, filtration, additional features and technologies, etc.).

14. What’s the Difference Between a Single Pass and a Recirculating Cleanroom?

All cleanrooms have a process where air is pushed into the room through fan filter units, then transferred out of the room. The difference between single pass and recirculating cleanrooms is where the purged air is moved to. In single pass cleanrooms, the purged air is sent to the surrounding area outside of the cleanroom. In recirculating cleanrooms, the purged air is returned through a plenum to be refiltered and recirculated into the cleanroom.

15. What Are the Different Airflow Systems Used in Cleanroom Design?

There are three general airflow systems used in cleanrooms: pressurized plenum, ducted supply and ducted return, and ducted supply and open return. 

  • Pressurized plenum – Air is pumped into the plenum, then pushed through the filters into the cleanroom. 
  • Ducted supply and ducted return – Air is ducted into the cleanroom and ducted back out of the cleanroom.
  • Ducted supply and open return – Air is ducted into the cleanroom, then flows out into an open return, which is basically a return plenum.
16. What Determines the Type of Wall Surface That’s Best for a Modular Cleanroom?

There are three types of cleanroom wall surfaces: HardWall, Softwall, and RigidWall. They’re all made of different materials, which allows them to accommodate different needs and classifications. 

  • HardWall cleanrooms are made from solid material, like stainless steel, vinyl, plastic laminate, or fiberglass reinforced plastic. They’re best for applications requiring stringent cleanroom classifications because they’re secure and easy to clean. 
  • SoftWall cleanrooms are made from framework and clear vinyl sheets. They’re best used for applications that need to meet certain classification standards, but not the most stringent of them, especially in regards to temperature and humidity control.
  • RigidWall cleanrooms are made with the structure of a HardWall cleanroom and the visibility of a SoftWall cleanroom. They rely on clear, acrylic panels for security, easy cleaning, and transparency.
17. How Do You Decide Whether Your Modular Cleanroom Needs Additional Features (Air Lock, Air Shower, Gowning Room, etc.)?

Once you’ve decided on your modular cleanroom’s basic components (filters, walls, flooring, etc.), you can start to think about any additional features it may require. This decision all depends on your cleanroom classification and the potential risks that could harm it. 

It’s important to remember that the greatest threat to the cleanliness of your cleanroom is anyone entering and leaving it. That’s why air locks, air showers, gowning rooms, and pass-through chambers are extremely useful in cleanrooms that have to meet stringent classification standards.

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