Why Preventative Maintenance of Wet Bench Equipment is Important

Preventative maintenance of wet bench equipment is necessary and even vital to manufacturers since it helps avoid costly and unexpected downtime due to equipment failure or qualify issues. Wet bench equipment and components are complex and are usually used in a demanding environment. Calibration, cleaning, and replacement of worn-out parts must be performed regularly to maintain facility performance and maintain or improve output quality.

Wet bench stations operate with harsh and corrosive chemicals, and there are also other variables (like temperature) which are also critical for a successful production line. Some parts must be changed, cleaned or serviced regularly while others need to be inspected regularly to determine if any action is required. Scheduling preventive maintenance that limits the downtime for the production line to a minimum while ensuring that all preventive measures are carried out can sometimes become challenging.

The semiconductor manufacturing equipment supplier should specify what preventive maintenance measures are required and which ones are recommendations. Some tasks may be done by the manufacturer’s personnel, however, others will require specialists from the supplier. For some lines, production steps are sequential so a specific component may be temporarily at rest for a given time while preventive maintenance is done on that component.

Coordinating with a supplier (who knows about the installation and can handle all preventive maintenance tasks) will help in developing a preventive maintenance program. A supplier can help the semiconductor manufacturer develop and adopt a convenient schedule for a wet bench equipment maintenance program.

Modutek offers this type of maintenance program as part of their customer support. The company has in-house expertise based on almost 40 years of experience in the wet bench processing technology field.  Scheduling and implementing a preventive wet bench maintenance program while keeping disruptions to production at a minimum requires using that experienced personnel that Modutek provides.

The complete article, “Why Preventative Maintenance of Wet Bench Equipment Is Important,” explains further about the importance of maintaining wet bench equipment you may have. Call Modutek at 866-803-1533 for a free consultation to discuss your wet bench equipment needs.

New SPM Process Provides 75% Improvement in Chemical Savings

Modutek has recently implemented the new SPM process and the company now has benchmark results from real process applications which show a significant improvement in chemical savings. The new SPM process requires the use of Modutek’s custom designed SPM process wet bench. Modutek designs and assembles wet benches and semiconductor manufacturing equipment at their facility in San Jose, California and provides systems that exactly meet their customers’ requirements.

Usually, the SPM mixture deteriorates as hydrogen peroxide turns to water and dilutes the concentration. The SPM mixture must be completely replaced at least every eight hours. This results in downtime during new mixture pour, replacement of the chemicals as well as neutralizing and disposal of the corrosive mixture in an environmentally safe way – and all these costs a lot. The SPM clean process is proven to provide results.

Modutek’s “Bleed and Feed” system is designed to maintain the SPM mixture concentration automatically over extended periods. In this system, there is a “clean” tank and a “dirty” tank. A programmable amount of mixture goes out of the dirty tank, and another programmable mixture is automatically transferred from the clean tank to the dirty tank. To make up for that, an appropriate amount of sulfuric acid is added, and both tanks have hydrogen peroxide to restore and maintain the concentration.

One of Modutek’s customers that have used their semiconductor manufacturing equipment now has real life results from using the “Bleed and Feed” SPM process improvements. The results show remarkable improvements that include the reduction in volume of the following: sulfuric acid use, acid neutralizer use and chemical disposal volume. Costs in acid re-agent use are also significantly reduced. System drains are now cut down from three times a day to once a week. Downtime is not needed to drain and re-pour the mixture, and throughput is also increased. Safety is now improved due to reduced operater interaction with dangerous chemicals.

You can learn more about the new SPM Process by reading the complete article titled “New SPM Process Provides 75% Improvement in Chemical Savings.” Modutek is available to answer questions or provide a free consultation. You may reach them by calling 866-803-1533 or email modutek@modutek.com.

Advancements in Wafer Fabrication Equipment Improve Semiconductor Manufacturing

The improvements in wafer fabrication equipment have kept up with the growing industry demands in high precision wafer fabrication. Precision is required to ensure adequate output quality and a low component rejection rate.

Automation has become the norm since it requires minimal manual handling. More so, it is needed to meet stringent requirements which allow fabrication shops to boost their productivity, minimize errors, reduce waste, and prevent additional costs.

Modutek offers fully automated wafer fabrication equipment which provides fully automated control of the wafer fabrication process. It has integrated software such as Modutek’s SolidWorks Flow Simulation and SolidWorks Simulation Professional which allow operators to calculate process variables and track chemical usage. Once the process is programmed, the advanced robotics will execute the process steps without intervention or monitoring from the human user. This results in a consistent process environment, increased throughput and increased output quality.

Both the software and the robotics have significantly improved process control, reliability and efficiency. Since a lot of semiconductor suppliers have their own requirements for different kinds of wafer manufacturing, Modutek designs the equipment, assembly and testing, and even the software, to match these specific customer requirements.

The last etch process involves etching the silicon wafer to remove the silicon oxide layer and then drying the cleaned wafer in a drying chamber. At this stage, any contamination can negatively affect later processes and will result to semiconductor components of inferior or defective quality. Modutek’s newest product introduces the combination of the last etch (HF) and IPA drying chamber to prevent handling the silicon wafer and thus reduce its chances of contamination.

Read the complete article titled “Advancements in Wafer Fabrication Equipment Improve Semiconductor Manufacturing” to learn more about Modutek’s advancements. If you would like to discuss your particular needs, would like to schedule a free consultation, or have questions, call Modutek at 866-803-1533 or send an email to Modutek@modutek.com.

Custom Fabrication Services for Unique Wafer Processing Requirements

Research labs and semiconductor manufacturing facilities often have special requirements for certain projects or prototypes that may need custom equipment to support their manufacturing procedures.

Semiconductor manufacturing facilities may need customized tanks, carriers or chemical stations to manufacture a particular product or may need to change existing equipment based on external changes or new requirements.

When new products are developed, single items are manufactured, or prototypes are done for testing, existing wafer processing equipment being used may not be suitable for the job. There are many factors: changing suppliers and/or environment and safety regulations imposing additional requirements or changing existing ones. In such cases, retrofitting the equipment, adding new components or changing parts or any other customization may be the best and most cost-effective solution to meet the current requirements.

On the other hand – other semiconductor manufacturers want to customize their existing equipment to let themselves adapt their production lines to current requirements, to speed up production and to increase throughput.

Fortunately, Modutek can provide expertise and experience to manufacturers when customized solutions are needed to support their unique wafer processing equipment requirements.

With over 35 years of experience supporting the needs of the semiconductor manufacturers and research facilities, Modutek specializes in custom design and development. They offer a wide range of customizations that include retrofitting equipment, upgrading stations, improving chemical delivery systems, etc., to meet client specifications, safety standards and environmental regulations. By using their expertise and experience to design and build customized equipment, Modutek’s engineers know exactly what works best and how existing equipment can be modified to meet any specialized requirements.

If you have questions, or would like a free estimate, after reading our full article “Custom Fabrication Services for Unique Wafer Processing Equipment,” please feel free to call Modutek at 866-803-1533 or send an email to Modutek@modutek.com.




Single Wafer Processing Spurs Demand for Wafer Cleaning Equipment

Wafer cleaning equipment suppliers regularly invest heavily in research and development in order to stay abreast of the ever-changing market trends. It also helps them meet the high demands of certain industries such as semiconductors, printed electronics, and single wafer processing.

More and more operators are jumping into the semiconductor equipment industry. Thus, the trend fuels the high demand for wafer cleaning equipment.

Single wafer processing is one of the factors that drive the global wafer cleaning equipment market’s continuous growth. Single wafer processing uses ozonized wafer and hydrofluoric acid in a single spin technology to reduce cycle times and boost output flexibility.

Single wafer cleaning equipment becomes competitive but only when the cycle times for individual wafers are low and the quality of the output can be comparable to wet batch processing. It can be used to etch silicon and provide a wet process for mini-fab single wafer cleaning. This process is often done together with megasonic cleaning because it helps in removing the tiniest particles and impurities, resulting in low particle count for the finished substrate.

Some single wafer processes are attractive because their deliver better results than the use of traditional process. The use of megasonic cleaning in particular reduces particle counts for even the smallest particles. The cleaning method uses megasonic sound waves in the cleaning solution which generate cavitation bubbles. These bubbles can remove the very small particles from the substrate surface. This type of cleaning is better than the traditional methods as it uses no harsh chemicals and reduces particle counts.

As semiconductor equipment manufacturers embrace single-wafer processing, the demand for single wafer cleaning equipment will increase significantly.

For more information read the complete article “Single Wafer Processing Spurs Demand for Wafer Cleaning Equipment”. If you would like a free estimate or have questions, contact Modutek by email to Modutek@modutek.com or by calling 866-803-1533.

Advantages of HF-Last Etching and IPA Drying in One Chamber

After cleaning, a silicon wafer needs to be effectively cleaned and dried with no particle contamination. Clean wafers are important to avoid errors in the next processing steps to produce devices that are of superior quality and free from defects. Using the single chamber HF-last and IPA vapor dryer show a considerable reduction in wafer substrate particle counts.

By the final stage of silicon wafer cleaning, the silicon oxide layer has to be removed and the cleaned wafer dried free from contaminants. However, transferring the wafers from the HF etching process to a separate drying chamber will likely cause the wafers to pick up particles.

Modutek now has a solution to this problem: the single-chamber HF-last and IPA vapor dryer, which can help to significantly reduce the particle count on wafer substrates.

In the single chamber process, Modutek uses IPA vapor drying in a free-standing unit with one DI water rinsing and drying. This method, also called the Marangoni drying technique, results in clean wafer substrates — having no contamination or watermarks.

Modutek has modified the IPA vapor dryer to include HF (hydrofluoric) acid injection before the start of the standard IPA vapor drying process. The HF acid injection ratio is controlled and provides an etch to bare silicon. When the silicon is etched, it is then rinsed to a controlled pH level. Once the appropriate pH levels are reached, it is then followed by the IPA drying process without moving the silicon wafers. This results in the low particle count on the wafer.

Initial field results from the single chamber HF-Last IPA dyer that Modutek has supplied to customers are showing outstanding results. Within the 0.3 to 5 micron range, fewer than 20 particles (adders) were added to etched substrates which are substantially below what was achieved in previous processes in this field trail.

For more details read the complete article “Advantages of HF-Last Etching and IPA Drying in One Chamber” to learn more about Modutek’s IPA vapor dryers. Call Modtuek at 866-803-1533 or send an email to Modutek@modutek.com if you have questions or would like to get a free consultation.

Improving Process Control with Fully Automated Wafer Fabrication Equipment

An increasing number of wafer fabrication applications require tight process control. Accurate chemical dosage and precise process timing become critical for a high-quality output.

Manual and semi-automated controls are susceptible to human error and a variation in how process steps are carried out. These processes can be improved with the use of fully-automated wet benches and chemical stations which help with consistent execution.

The combination of fully automated wafer fabrication process and software ensures better repeatability, minimized waste and improved production line performance.

Modutek designs and manufacturers their fully automated wafer fabrication equipment in-house to ensure the highest quality standards are met. In addition, Modutek has developed their own SolidWorks Simulation Professional and SolidWorks Flow Simulation software, which will provide a consistent automated process and ensure correct dosages. The software can also perform simulations and track chemical use.

Modutek offers standard wet bench chemical stations or customized equipment to meet the customers’ exact standards and specific application. They can handle both solvent and acid applications, and the equipment can process sizes up to 30 inches by 60 inches.

There are a number of benefits in using fully automated wafer fabrication equipment. The process is set up and can be run repeatedly with minimal monitoring. It also allows for improved process control and accurate chemical dosage, precise timing of process steps, exact replication of the process sequence, and full neutralization of chemical waste. A fully automated process also reduces the use of chemicals. Process output remains consistent, the number of defective results is low, and production line and productivity are improved.

Read the entire article “Improving Process Control with Fully Automated Wafer Fabrication Equipment” and then call Modutek at 866-803-1533 to get a free consultation. You may also send an email to Modutek@modutek.com with any questions you may have.

Modutek Provides Solvent Delivery Pump Station for Large Pharmaceutical Company

Modutek can develop and produce complex and wide-ranging chemical delivery systems that meet challenging customer requirements. As a semiconductor manufacturing company with over 35 years of experience, Modutek delivered its most recent project: providing solvent delivery pump supply for a large pharmaceutical company.

In this project, Modutek supplied nine solvent pumping cabinets, each equipped with two pneumatically-operated pumps. These pumps have pulse dampers and are fitted with air-actuated ball valves on the inlet/outlet of each pump. The pilot valve will regulate the supply of clean, dry air (CDA). A series of valves and monitoring system controls ensures the transfer of solvents to distribution points close to the process.

Each custom-built cabinet has an ultrasonic leak detector housed in a one-inch pipe “T” at the lowest point of the cabinet. The cabinet also features a drain “On/Off” selector and a 4-20 ma pressure transmitter.

The Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) controls these pumps, which in turn will deliver up to four gallons per minute.

When the request for a pump is received, the drain valve “On” function shuts off while the pilot valve supplying CDA to the pump opens. The ball valves then open, allowing the solvent to flow from the pump inlet and past the pressure transmitter to the process.

When the drain valve is turned “On,” the pilot valve, the discharge ball valves, and the pump inlet are disabled. The drain valve opens and the solvent is discharged and transferred into a collection container. Once draining process is completed, the operator can shut off the drain valve, resuming the normal operation of the pumps.

In case the ultrasonic leak detector in the pipe “T” recognizes a leak, the pilot valve, and the corresponding ball valves close, stopping the transfer of the solvent.

Solvents handled include acetone, methanol, ethyl acetate, heptane, isopropyl acetate and methyl tert-butyl ether.

Modutek can help manufacturers with complex chemical delivery systems by developing customized equipment to meet specific requirements. All chemical handling and delivery system equipment designed by Modutek is designed and manufactured in-house at their facility in San Jose California.

If you have questions after reading the complete article “Modutek Provides Solvent Delivery Pump Station for Large Pharmaceutical Company”, contact Modutek for a free consultation at 866-803-1533.

Designing Semiconductor Manufacturing Equipment for Ergonomics and Safety

Safety is something that semiconductor equipment suppliers need to incorporate into all aspects of their equipment since the manufacturing process involves the routine use of chemical processing.

Safety guidelines, such as the SEMI S2, published by the global industry of microelectronics manufacturers, ensures suppliers implement safe operating protocols. Better ergonomic design of semiconductor manufacturing equipment as described in SEMI S8, helps promote a safer operating environment to reduce operator fatigue and strain.

Old installations may not meet the current safety standards or satisfy the owner’s safety goals. It’s better to purchase brand-new equipment that incorporates the use of upgraded safety features to ensure that the equipment and work environment will be as safe as possible.

Modutek follows the SEMI safety and ergonomics guidelines by designing equipment that’s easy to use and reduces strain and fatigue. These include the wafer holding tray on Modutek wet benches which uses a robot arm whose function is to hold and move the tray to the front of the station for optimal loading with less effort. The wafer holding tray is just one of the examples of how Modutek implements ergonomic design to help operators do their work safely and with less effort. This results in fewer accidents, increased productivity and a better work environment.

Manufacturing facilities and research centers need to prioritize safety when purchasing semiconductor manufacturing equipment. While manufacturing facilities and research labs use clean rooms fitted with sprinkler systems, fire alarms and other kinds of fire protection, they can reduce the likelihood of fire accidents by minimizing the use of flammable equipment. Many wet bench processes use corrosive chemicals in tanks and pipes made of plastics or other synthetic materials that can be flammable. Modutek can support efforts of reducing the use of flammable materials by supplying equipment that complies with the FM 4910 flammability specifications to further reduce the likelihood of fire.

Find out more about how Modutek’s ergonomic designs can benefit your facility by reading the complete article “Designing Semiconductor Manufacturing Equipment for Ergonomics and Safety.” Call Modutek if you have questions or would like to discuss your specific semiconductor equipment requirements.

Upgrading Used Semiconductor Manufacturing Equipment and Wet Benches

As long as existing semiconductor manufacturing equipment or wet benches are not near the end of their useful life, it is often more practical to upgrade them than to buy new equipment.

When the equipment experiences a downtime, it may be a good time to replace key components while the entire subsystems can be upgraded during scheduled maintenance to prevent further downtime. Upgrading and retrofitting the used equipment with new components as well as repairing their defective parts can result in extended useful life for wet benches and related equipment. Upgrades can also help further increase throughput, improve safety, ergonomics, ease of operations, and chemical delivery system performance. If you want your equipment to be able to handle larger wafer sizes, upgrades are also the way to go.

Modutek has many years of experience and expertise in upgrading existing wet benches and other related equipment — whether it’s their own or from another manufacturer. Among the equipment upgrades Modutek can provide:

  • Identifying and replacing defective or obsolete parts with new or retrofitted components
  • Updating robotics, baths, and wet etching components
  • Upgrading motion controls and software
  • Redesigning and improving systems within an existing footprint
  • Re-conditioning existing systems to improve performance

Upgrading brings a lot of benefits, including the opportunity to upgrade semiconductor fabrication equipment from manual to semi-automatic or a fully automatic configuration to improve consistency and reduce operational errors. Modutek can determine whether such upgrades or retrofits are feasible by evaluating the performance of their older models (or units from some other manufacturers) and then performing the appropriate work.

For more information, please read the complete article titled “Upgrading Used Semiconductor Manufacturing Equipment and Wet Benches”. If you have additional questions or would like to discuss your specific needs, call 408-362-2000.