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Industrial clean rooms

Wonbang Tech: S.Korea’s leading chip clean room company

Apr 26, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

Wonbang Tech's plant in Cheonan, South Korea
Wonbang Tech's plant in Cheonan, South Korea

The dew point is the temperature at which the air becomes saturated with water vapor. When cooled further below the point, the airborne water vapor condenses to form liquid water, or what we normally call dew.

In high-tech industries, controlling the humidity level within the production facilities is crucial, as the dew point becomes higher in more humid air conditions. In other words, in a humid environment, unwanted water vapor is formed on metal and other materials even in higher temperatures.

South Korea’s Wonbang Tech Co. is a leading company in the construction of industrial “dry rooms” with a dew point under -40°C and “clean rooms” that can filter out particles with lengths lower than a micrometer.   

The Kosdaq-listed company constructs dry rooms and clean rooms for Korea’s semiconductor, electronic display and battery companies, including Samsung Electronics Co., Samsung Display Co., SK Hynix, SK Innovation Co., LG Chem Ltd. and LG Display Co.

The company says the total size of its dry rooms and clean rooms already constructed or under construction for SK Innovation’s plant in Korea and future plants in Georgia, US sums up to 82,000 m², equivalent to 10 soccer fields.

“We hold a wide range of patents in the sector, from air conditioning to ceiling construction, relevant for building clean rooms and dry rooms according to the client needs,” said Wonbang Tech CEO Kim Byung-jin.  

The clean room, mostly used in the semiconductor industry, must be able to filter out any unwanted particles and keep a uniform temperature around 20°C to prevent the expansion and contraction of metals. Air conditioning technology is also important, as harmful gases from the production process must be ventilated with clean air.

Kim says that speed of the room construction is as important as its quality, as we live in a time when global semiconductor and battery makers are hurrying to build new facilities one after another.

To shorten the construction schedule, Wonbang Tech recently developed a new modular construction method using lifts. By connecting up to six lift machines, the company says it can assemble different modules at the ground level and install them in the ceiling afterward, whereas the previous practice was to assemble each part up in the air near the ceiling.  

Wonbang Tech's lifts used for modular construction
Wonbang Tech's lifts used for modular construction

Thanks to its focus on both quality and speed, Wonbang Tech’s revenue grew rapidly from 145.3 billion won ($130 million) in 2016 to 326.8 billion won ($294 million) in 2020. During the same period, its operating profit also grew from 15.4 billion won ($13.8 million) to 21.6 billion won ($19.4 million).

Based on its technical expertise in maintaining a constant temperature in production facilities, and on its cleaning and dehumidifying technologies, the company plans to make entry to the bio clean room segment for pharmaceutical companies and internet data center (IDC) construction.

The company says that it will strengthen sterilization technologies to enter the bio clean room segment and develop cooling technologies to efficiently manage the heat produced within the IDCs.

“Our performance has been highly dependent on the business cycles of semiconductor and battery industries. We will achieve more stability by diversifying our portfolio into bio clean rooms for pharmaceuticals and data centers for IT companies,” said the company’s CEO.  

Write to Jin-won Kim at jin1@hankyung.com

Daniel Cho edited this article.

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