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Cleanroom Wall Systems Comparison
Performance, Installation, and Code Compliance

florida cleanroom systems 081   Cleanroom wall systems, both modular and conventional construction, can vary greatly in thickness, composition, core material, and final finish surfaces. The cost factors of any cleanroom project have the highest cost components typically being process equipment, HVAC mechanical equipment then the structural components, i.e., walls, ceilings, flooring systems. Selecting the right wall systems whether modular or conventional must be decided by several factors such as fire rating classification, waterproofness, sound deadening characteristics, gap tolerances, air leakage, surface finishes, finish thickness, and insulation values.

    Cleanroom wall systems if modular construction can vary in thickness from 1/2" liner panels for assembly over existing conventional construction up to 8" thick free standing panels specifically designed for insulation values, sound deadening, and tall wall applications. Available heights for a single panel can vary from 8' tall with 40' tall probably the total maximum height available in a single piece panel with no horizontal splices.

Cleanroom Modular Wall Systems Selection:

   Several factors influence the selection of a modular cleanroom wall system. First and foremost the modular cleanroom wall system must meet NFPA and possibly FM Global fire codes compliance for fire and life safety codes. There are numerous characteristics that must be taken into account such as the fire rating classification , flame spread and smoke development. Most local building departments plans and review phases  will require independent test from a certified lab such as UL or FM  to validate this information to approve the systems installation.

   The next factors that will influence the selection of the cleanroom modular wall system will be the final finish surface. Final finish surfaces can vary greatly in thickness, finish coatings, impact and abrasion resistance. Special consideration should also be given to chemical resistance, UV resistance, and static control properties if required for the specific cleanroom process.

   The core materials composition of the panel may influence the selection of the panel as it supplies the bulk of structural integrity, fire rating and sound deadening characteristics and needs to accommodate the height of the panel to prevent flexing or distortion in the final finish surface. It will be the first item reviewed for code compliance issues.

   Few manufacturers offer UL or FM rated panels with the independent test data required for code compliance and this can severely restrict the choice of modular systems utilized for construction. If this becomes an issue during the plans and review process by a municipality or insuring agent there are systems in place to allow a workaround solution that will usually involve a local licensed engineering firm in conjunction with a specific testing laboratory to address the building department comments on specific  life safety issues. This can add cost to the construction and must be taken into consideration during final selection.

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Life Safety and Fire Code Compliant Wall Systems We Offer:
  • NFPA 287: Standard Test Methods for Measurement of Flammability of Materials in Cleanrooms Using a Fire Propagation Apparatus (FPA)
  • NFPA 318: Standard for the Protection of Semiconductor Fabrication Facilities
  • ANSI/FM 4910: Standard for Cleanroom Materials Flammability Test
  • ANSI / UL 263: Fire Tests of Building Construction and Materials
  • ASTM E119: Fire Endurance and Resistance test .
  • Florida Building Codes 2010

   Final finish surfaces and thicknesses of the final finish should also be taken into account as they will ultimately determine the impact resistance, corrosion, maintenance cost and requirements during the life cycle of the cleanroom wall systems. There are trade offs that must be made in the selection of the final finishes which may be budget or process driven.

   Steel panel systems offer the least cost, highest impact resistance but also the highest possibility of the introduction of rust particulates into the cleanroom environment. Once any field cuts or penetrations are made they must be quickly coated wherever the galvanizing is compromised as rust particulates will start to form almost immediately. This is true for all channels, post systems, panels, and ceiling systems manufactured with galvanized steel components.

   Aluminum panel systems are next on the cost schedule and offer low corrosion possibilities but care must be taken to pay attention the final finished thickness of the aluminum to assure impact resistance is not compromised by to thin of an aluminum skin. Care also must be taken that the aluminum panels are not supplied with steel channel systems which can cause corrosion when allowed to interact with each other. There will also be minor color differences between aluminum or steel components. Aluminum systems should have 100% aluminum components with the same final coating applied to all.

   Fiberglass reinforced plastics(FRP) can cost similar to aluminum panels and can be supplied with either steel or aluminum post and channel systems. They offer superior resistance to chemical solutions, impact resistance, bacteria growth and scratches but can have surface blemishes or minor color changes depending on the surface finish. Smooth FRP panels seem to suffer the greatest from surface blemishes or color fluctuations between panels.

   PVC, vinyl coated panels are available with specialty pvc or vinyl's which can inhibit bacteria growth, chemical damage or static properties of the panel system and are the most consistent in color, lack of blemishes or surface irregularities. Depending on the thickness of the film they can be either extremely durable or extremely susceptible to impact, nicking and tearing during the lifecycle of the cleanroom wall system. They are easily repaired in the field by simply applying another layer over the damaged panel with a vinyl to vinyl adhesive. Repairs can be costly with the labor required to reapply new vinyl.                     

   Anodized systems typically are the least thick of the coating utilized and can be highly susceptible to scratching and abrasions during the manufacturing and installation processes. Once installed they cannot be touched up to manufacturers original condition without the  replacement of the component.

   Baked on enamel coated systems suffer the same finish problems as anodized components due to the thinness of the coating allowing for scratches and abrasions to commonly be picked up during the manufacturing or installation process.

   Powdercoated epoxy or enamel coated surfaces are the thickest of the applied coating and offer the greatest durability during the manufacturing and installation cycles.

   Stainless steel finishes and components whether brushed or gloss can suffer the same irregularities as any of the finishes above and must be closely inspected and monitored during the installation phases to assure  a quality finish upon completion of the cleanroom construction.   
  All applied finishes can have finish quality concerns that must be checked and monitored during the manufacturing and installation cycles of any modular cleanroom system. Quality control inspections must be in place and implemented upon receiving and at various intervals of the cleanroom installation process to assure a high quality final finish at the completion of all construction stages.  

   Florida Cleanroom Systems offers modular cleanroom wall systems with specific independently tested and approved materials to meet all local requirements for code compliance with the specific fire ratings, flame spread, and smoke development testing. Our project managers also photo document any quality control issues upon product receiving, at all phases of the cleanroom construction.

   Modular cleanroom systems must also be sufficiently pre-fabricated to minimize field cutting and  offer cost saving on the installation phases that are comparable with conventional construction in non union labor market  when compared to conventional cleanroom  construction.  

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   Modular cleanroom wall selection must also meet criteria's for process specific requirements such as anti-fungal characteristics, anti-static characteristics, UV resistance, and chemical resistance when the process requirement arise.

   Florida Cleanroom Systems offers modular wall systems to compliment specific process requirements such as: 
  • Anti-Fungal Final Surface Finishes
  • UV Resistant Final Surface Finishes 
  • Anti-Static Final Surface Finishes
  • Chemical Resistant Final Surface Finishes

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Cleanroom Conventional Wall Systems Selection:

   Cleanroom walls may need to be constructed conventionally to satisfy process requirements for sterile aseptic processed pharmaceuticals or food products. Cleanrooms where sterility must be instituted by a high chemical pressure wash down may require seamless construction with waterproof surfaces, lights, airflow diffusers, and flooring systems.

   Seamless coved cleanroom construction techniques allow for all 6 planes of cleanroom surfaces to be bonded into a seamless box with no corners,  gaps or crevices for bioburden or chemical entrapment. Waterproof cleanroom light fixtures, flush window and door trims, and waterproof electrical and utility outlets are all seamlessly sealed to the wall and ceiling surfaces.

  Conventional cleanroom construction must satisfy the same life safety and fire compliant codes as stated earlier and can offer many of the same features and benefits except for relocation, depreciation and ease of reconfiguration. It can still host the same final surface finish qualities will always be a least cost method to meet 1 or 2 hour compliant cleanroom construction. 

  It is always a less risk solution when fast track construction must be instituted for the  cleanroom environments where actual work may be preformed before drawings or materials are through the plans and review stages. With the advantages that some municipalities offer with early start permits all work that will not cover previous work may be completed before issuance of the primary permit or initial inspections.

 Cleanroom Wall Systems Comparison:

Modular Cleanroom Walls                Conventional Cleanroom Walls
  • Depreciation 7 years if qualified as equipment
  • Equipment purchase
  • Relocatable
  • Requires lead time for design, approvals and manufacturing
  • Clean build pre-fabricated installations   
  • Gap tolerances and fit
  • Corrosion of finish materials
  • Higher field repair cost with lead time for parts
  • Easily reconfigurable
  • High Risk Fast Track Solution
  • Closed or construction must be approved by building departments before initial purchase
  • No cost effective code compliant solutions for 1 hour and 2 hour fire rated construction requirements
  • Not tolerant to field changes with parts lead time
  • Few validations by independent testing laboratories
  •  Ability to accept code compliant electrical boxes for flush mount installation
  • Flush mounting of utility piping and process piping chases
  • High labor cost required to field cut and trim to existing conditions
  • Depreciation 32 years as capital improvements
  • Capital improvement
  • One time use
  • Immediate construction start times upon design approvals
  • Site fabricated additional clean build phases
  • Seamless construction
  • Cure out gassing of finish materials
  • Lower field repair cost with on hand materials
  • One time use
  • Low Risk Fast Track Solution
  • Open Construction can be inspected after partial erection and rough in of process utility services
  • Offers cost effective code compliant solutions for 1 and 2 hour fire rated construction requirements
  • Highly tolerant to field changes with on hand parts
  • Most components have full validations and testing by independent laboratories
  • Accepts code compliant electrical boxes for flush mount installation
  • Utility and process piping chases concealed within wall cavity
  • Can be field trimmed and cut to meet field conditions easily
    Both modular and conventional cleanroom construction have a host of advantages and disadvantageous features and benefits to take into consideration when planning your cleanroom construction. You must weigh the advantages of each construction system to the process requirements and advantages realized by your specific construction requirements.

   Florida Cleanroom Systems having vast experiences with both methods of construction can offer an unbiased consultation and recommendation of the construction method best benefitting your process requirements.
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