Designing a Cleanroom: Key Considerations and Best Practices
01 July 2024

Designing a Cleanroom: Key Considerations and Best Practices

Designing a cleanroom is a meticulous and precise process that demands careful planning and attention to detail. The goal is to create an environment that meets specific purity standards essential for various industries, such as pharmaceuticals and aerospace.

The best practices for a cleanroom design involve optimizing the available space while incorporating modular elements that allow for future expansions. Likewise, it involves selecting appropriate materials for the walls, floor, and ceiling to ensure the cleanroom isn’t polluted.

This comprehensive guide highlights the considerations for a cleanroom design, including layout, materials and airflow patterns. We also discuss how these elements contribute to achieving the desired cleanliness levels.

How to Design a Cleanroom
Before diving into the design, it’s crucial to understand the standards that govern cleanrooms. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) provides a classification system (ISO 14644-1) that outlines specific requirements for particle concentration and air cleanliness.

The cleanroom’s intended use dictates its ISO class and, consequently, its design requirements. Here are some design requirements for a cleanroom.

Layout and Spatial Design
The layout of your cleanroom must allow for efficient use of space and future expansions.

Optimizing Space

  • Efficient Use of Space: The layout should maximize the usable area while minimizing the space that requires filtration and maintenance.
  • Zoning: Separate zones based on cleanliness levels to prevent cross-contamination. For instance, segregate gowning areas from the main cleanroom space.

Flexibility and Scalability

  • Modular Design: Incorporating modular elements allows for future expansions or modifications with minimal disruption.
  • Adaptability: Design spaces that can adapt to changing needs or technological advancements.

Material Selection
Another important consideration for a cleanroom design is the materials. Your selected materials must not shed so as not to contaminate the cleanroom.

Walls, Floors, and Ceilings

  • Non-Particulate Shedding Materials: Use materials that don’t release particles or fibres, like stainless steel or coated aluminum.
  • Easy-to-Clean Surfaces: Surfaces should be smooth and resistant to cleaning agents and disinfectants.

Windows and Pass-Throughs

  • Sealed Windows: Install windows flush with the wall surfaces and seal to prevent leakage.
  • Pass-through Chambers: Incorporate pass-throughs for material transfer to minimize door opening and closing.

Airflow Design and HVAC Considerations
One cleanroom design principle to always consider is the HVAC and airflow designs. The type of airflow you choose depends on your industry and your cleanroom’s ISO class.

Laminar vs. Turbulent Flow

  • Laminar Air Flow: Ideal for high-precision manufacturing, laminar flow directs filtered air downward in a constant stream, suitable for higher cleanliness classes.
  • Turbulent Air Flow: In less critical environments, turbulent or non-unidirectional flow provides adequate cleanliness for lower ISO class cleanrooms.

Temperature and Humidity Control

  • HVAC Systems: Design HVAC systems to control temperature and humidity levels precisely, which can significantly impact particle behaviour and contamination risks.

Contamination Control
You want to avoid contaminants in your cleanroom as much as possible. Adhere to these tips.

Entry and Exit Protocols

  • Airlocks and Gowning Rooms: Design entry and exit points with airlocks or gowning rooms to control contamination.
  • Personnel and Material Flow: Establish clear personnel and material movement protocols to minimize contamination risks.

Safety and Compliance
Your cleanroom must comply with your industry’s safety standards.

Regulatory Compliance

  • Ensure the design complies with relevant industry standards and regulations, including ISO and local codes.
  • Documentation and Validation: Maintain thorough documentation for design, installation, and validation processes.

Safety Features

  • Emergency Exits: Clearly marked and easily accessible emergency exits.
  • Fire Safety: Incorporate fire-resistant materials and fire suppression systems.

Future-Proofing and Sustainability
As much as possible, ensure your cleanroom is energy efficient by using only energy-efficient systems.

Energy Efficiency

  • Sustainable Materials: Choose energy-efficient materials and systems with a lower environmental impact.
  • Energy Recovery Systems: Consider incorporating energy recovery ventilators or other systems to reduce energy consumption.

 Technological Integration

  • Smart Monitoring Systems: Install sensors and controls for real-time monitoring of cleanliness, temperature, and humidity.
  • Automation: Consider automation where feasible to reduce human intervention and potential contamination.