Cleanrooms: What They Are and How to Build One

Across most major industries, there are applications that warrant the cleanroom, a controlled workspace environment where pathogens, dust, vapors, chemicals, and other contaminants are excluded through a combination of filtration systems and SOPs. Although a military cleanroom will look different than a translational medicine facility, the same basic principles apply and result in common elements that must be accommodated when the space is furnished.

Walking through the anatomy of a cleanroom will help you remember which components are most important, and whose placement must be respected in order for optimal operation. Each of the following components may be adapted; and so even if they don't look precisely like what is detailed below, they will likely be represented in some modified form tailored to your specific application.

HVAC and Air Filtration

ISO standards actually designate eight different tiers of air filtration hinging on the smallest size of particles that are not to pass through. HEPA filtration contributes here, with regular upkeep required as well as no physical obstructions to the filters.

Air Flow

The other component that works in parallel to air filtration is air flow. Cleanrooms have an ideal rate of air turnover, known as the air change rate (ACR). This value tells you how many times per hour the air in a specific space is completely replaced. The average room in a residential room has an ACR of 2, while a cleanroom may have an ACR in the 700s. Depending on traffic, the ACR may need to be increased further in order for the cleanroom to remain effective.

Components such as windows and doors must be integrated seamlessly into the walls to maintain effective containment and optimal airflow.Coving of the room corners removes edges in which contaminants may get stuck and that might interrupt airflow.

PPE

Personal protective equipment is another component of maintaining a cleanroom as well as protecting its users. Cleanrooms will have stations set up for the placement of PPE as well as its removal, although these may be just outside the cleanroom itself.

Hoods and Contained Spaces

Even within the cleanroom, there may be segmentation to create "cleaner" workspaces, such as in a tissue culture hood. Alternatively, hoods may be used to protect the cleanroom when toxic chemicals are being used. These often have removable components that may be autoclaved or otherwise sterilized.

Disposal

The containment of refuse is important, not just for daily operations but also in the event of a spill or other accident. Disposal of the incident is vital to maintaining the cleanroom space. Covered waste units, sharps containers, and other specialized bins to hold the room's waste are the easiest to implement.

Pass-Through Chambers

May be used to transfer materials into or out of the cleanroom without needing to increase foot traffic.

Internet of Things

Using electronic connectivity, networks, and even digital panels, it is now possible to closely monitor and control conditions within spaces. Probes used for these measurements as well as any instruments used for adjustments must be respected, while the electrical power supply must be connected to ensure steady ongoing operation.

Our products are designed not just to withstand the needs of laboratory and other professional settings, but also to be fully customizable and adaptable to real-world needs. In this way, spatial constraints may be defining but never limiting.