Starrco Publishes Infographic Detailing History of the Modern Clean Room

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Modular clean room company, Starrco, has published a new infographic on the inventor and history of the modern clean room.

Starrco Modular Clean Room History

A cleanroom, or clean room, is an enclosed environment that has low levels of environmental pollutants such as dust, airborne microbes, aerosol particles, and chemical vapors. It is used mainly by a variety of manufacturing, pharmaceutical, and technology related industries.

The modern clean room was first created by American physicist Willis Whitfield (December 6, 1919 – November 12, 2012), earning him the nickname “Mr. Clean,” from Time Magazine. He was born the son of a cotton farmer, but would go on to study electronics at Brantley-Draughans College and physics at Hardin-Simmons University. Not until Whitfield was an employee of the Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico, did he lay out his initial plans in 1960 for the first clean room.

One of the main reasons clean rooms were becoming increasingly in demand during the mid-century was because of increased manufacturing. Smaller mechanical and electrical components were being manufactured in addition to an increasing number of pharmaceutical products across the globe. These new components and products required a “clean” environment for successful production. A “clean” environment has a controlled level of dust, germs, and a regulated air flow through the use of an air particle filtration system.

Earlier versions of clean rooms existed before Whitfield’s invention, but none avoided having unpredictable airflows and too many pollutant particles. The first clean rooms may have been early hospital rooms, like the ones used by British surgeon Dr. Joseph Lister, a leader in developing sterile surgery environments.

Whitfield’s development of the modern clean room was a revelation for the modern world that not many consumers know or think about. His invention greatly impacted how many everyday items used by consumers such as cell phones and daily medications are now manufactured.

“His (Willis Whitfield) clean room blew air in from the ceiling and sucked it out from the floor. Filters scrubbed the air before it entered the room…The process could completely replace the air in the room 10 times a minute,” according to a New York Times obituary, “Willis Whitfield, Inventor of Clean Room That Purges Tiny Particles, Dies at 92.”

Within a few years of his invention, Whitfield’s modern version of the clean room generated more than $50 billion sales worldwide. Whitfield retired from Sandia in 1984 and died in Albuquerque, NM, at the age of 92 in 2012.

Modular clean rooms today:

With today’s modular building technology, clean rooms can be constructed for a specific purpose, space, and class specifications including class 100 to class 100,000. Modular clean room construction means that installation is completed at a fraction of the time that traditional construction takes leading to less mess and interruption time for the business. Starrco’s modular clean room materials are pre-cut, mitered, and completely finished, with no taping, sanding, or painting. A variety of wall finishes are available including steel, aluminum, FRP, vinyl covered gypsum, and hardboard. Contact Starrco today for a quote or more information on modular clean rooms by clicking here.


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Daryl Carlson
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