When a world-class provider of industrial inkjet printheads Xaar expanded its Huntingdon facilities in late 2009, it turned to Norwood to develop its new state of the art modular clean room partition system.

The challenge was to design and deliver a continuous working environment, where maintenance could be conducted without compromising the integrity of the controlled environment critical for precision printhead manufacturing. Prior to project commencement Xaar set out a clear vision of what it wanted to achieve and took the decision to actively engage with modular cleanroom system manufacturer, Norwood, from the beginning of the design phase. The resulting modular partition design soon surpassed the expectations and ideas that were originally conceived.

Norwood began the process of designing the new 1,000m2 modular clean room environment by analysing Xaar’s operational requirements, allowing it to inject expertise and innovation into developing the modular clean room system at an early stage. Norwood’s director said,

“By taking an active interest in Xaar’s business needs, we were able to add significant innovation throughout the build process and help the client develop its new controlled environment alongside an existing fully operational modular clean room system.”

Xaar’s manufacturing group engineering manager Rob Welford added,

“Norwood, together with main contractor Holland Contracts, went to great lengths to detail our key strategic requirements. As one of the UK’s leading partition design and manufacturing companies, Norwood integrated its fully modular and demountable wall partition systems, walk on ceilings and door systems in the design and build of the modular clean room project.”

Working alongside Holland Contracts, Norwood used its expertise in integrating flush mounted services within the walls and ceilings to ensure that future maintenance could be carried out without affecting the integrity of Xaar’s clean modular room system environment.

The modular nature of Norwood’s steel partition clean room systems, together with a unique way of integrating services, practically eliminates on site disruption because manufacturing and construction is carried out off site. The Norwood proprietary Enviro partition system allows electric, gas, water and data supplies to be incorporated within the walls of the modular clean room partition system. This provides an aesthetically pleasing finish to the room, whilst adding to the overall functionality through provision of flush mounted sockets direct to the point of use.

A significant benefit of the Norwood system is the reduction in the need for on site mechanical and electrical contractor work, a philosophy that the director fully supports: 

“Focusing on the development of new manufacturing methodologies and critical tolerances allows Norwood to introduce new ways of creating controlled environment solutions throughout the design, manufacturing and installation phases of project management’. ‘With 80% of the Xaar clean room construction and finishing completed prior to delivery, on site disruption was reduced by up to 60%.”

The new Xaar clean room features a technically sophisticated mechanical solution within the walk on ceiling system. The Norwood long plank walk on ceiling was designed to bespoke specification and sealed under controlled conditions, with the mechanical and electrical equipment being supported on top of the modular clean room system. Each ceiling penetration was also designed and manufactured prior to delivery and sealed off site, removing the need for site cutting and reducing on site time.

The significant investment Norwood has made at its Manchester plant enables all manufacturing, plus much of the construction and finishing to be completed at the point of production. Specialist modular clean room glazing products have been developed through the collaboration of Norwood and 3M’s research and development engineers.

The new flush glazed panels which integrate precisely into the Enviro demountable clean room partition systems are manufactured under laboratory conditions at Norwood’s state of the art production plant. Incorporation of pre-coated anti-microbial surface finishes, together with a recessed base detail which is adapted to the differing clean room types, are just two examples of the level of expertise which Norwood has introduced its approach to developing modern controlled environment solutions. Another interesting feature of Norwood’s offer is the company’s ability to provide manufactured fully relocatable steel partition clean room interlocking door sets, complete with flush double glazed units which further minimise the need for surface mounted fittings. Manufactured off site, the doors and single piece fully welded door frame assemblies are constructed prior to delivery direct to site.

When asked about the materials used within the Xaar project, Holland Contracts managing director Martyn Smith said,

“Norwood has a complete understanding of the technical and material challenges required to design and build modular clean rooms. Holland Contracts needed to be convinced that the materials and fabric products were of the highest standards. Norwood is an ideal partner as the staff make sure that they fully understand the client needs prior to embarking upon a project. The Norwood approach is to deliver excellence and expertise from initial design through to aftersales. And, from our experience of working with Norwood, they also deliver strong value.”

Xaar’s rate of expansion meant that flexibility for future change also needed to be considered. Norwood’s long standing expertise in the design of modular demountable partition solutions, and its ability to design and construct every detail to exact specification, means that the client has the option to add on future developments in line with developing operational needs. The end result of Norwood’s approach was to successfully deliver an innovative fully functional modular clean room solution for Xaar, built alongside its existing clean room facility.

Like many previous clients, the level of value that Norwood brings to the table was clearly recognised by both the main contractor and client. Martyn Smith said,

“The key element to the success of this scheme was to include our system manufacturing company Norwood at the very early design stages. This allowed us to provide a turnkey package and along with our end user to detail our requirements fully and to openly discuss key matters from the outset. In turn, this allowed the design team from Norwood, with their vast knowledge of its partition system and manufacturing process, to help us achieve the level of quality and detail we were seeking.”

Martyn Smith further commented that,

‘‘Holland Contracts is a vastly experienced cleanroom contractor and we had already made the decision to install all components within the clean room system. As such we needed to be satisfied that the selected interior products were of the highest quality and performance suitable for this scheme. Norwood provides superb high quality modular clean room enclosures and interior systems exactly to programme, it has the ability to manufacture and provide us with bespoke details particular to our requirements. Norwood has been a true all round service provider, from design right the way through to after sales, which are the key elements one expects from a manufacturing partner.”

Xaar’s Rob Welford agrees,

“Having previously had a less than satisfactory experience with a different clean room provider it was clear to Xaar that the success of this project would be based upon a quality and responsive supplier and assembly contractor. We met Norwood and Holland Contracts early in the design process and went to great lengths to detail our key strategic requirements. The practical and hands on approach given from day one by both parties gave Xaar confidence and we have not been disappointed. The project was completed on time and to budget providing Xaar with a world class facility we are very proud of.”

Judging by the finished project, Norwood delivered its promises. Further Information about Norwood modular clean rooms and relocatable / demountable partition solutions for controlled environments can be obtained by calling Norwood.