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SUCCESS STORY

Robots in semiconductor production

Fabmatics, an experienced automation specialist based in Dresden, offers the perfect solution for the storage of silicon wafers under cleanroom conditions. A Stäubli six-axis robot in the Super Cleanroom specification is part of the package.

CUSTOMER BENEFITS

  • Compact footprint
  • High storage density
  • ISO 3 cleanroom atmosphere
  • Safe handling of sensitive wafers

TASK

Robot-assisted storage of silicon wafers

A company that specializes in supplying the automation needs of the semiconductor industry has designed an impressive concept for the interim storage of wafers under cleanroom conditions. Within this innovative system, a Stäubli cleanroom robot performs intricate handling tasks.

The dimensions of the semiconductors on the surface of a silicon wafer are typically measured in nanometers. Under these circumstances, it is clear that any foreign particle, no matter how small, can impair the function of the microchip. That is why the 100 or so individual steps of production take place in a cleanroom environment.

When the wafers have to be stored temporarily, they must likewise be kept under cleanroom conditions. This is where the CubeStocker from Fabmatics comes in. At the heart of the system is a Stäubli Super Cleanroom TX2-90XL mounted on a dual-axis gantry which handles storage and retrieval with smooth efficiency and no contamination.

SOLUTION

Two in one: Intermediate buffer or storage system for test wafers

The CubeStocker is a fully automated storage system for the carriers in which wafers (maximum capacity 25) are transported and stored. One CubeStocker holds 200 carriers. A conveyor system running along the cleanroom ceiling automatically feeds the carriers into and out of the individual storage locations in the stocker unit.

The special feature of the CubeStocker deployed here is that it operates within its own ISO 3 cleanroom atmosphere. The wafers are thus temporarily stored in absolutely clean conditions before the next processing step or between test cycles, without any risk of contamination.  

CUSTOMER USAGE

“Supercleaner” robot protects valuable cargo

The handling of the wafer carriers is performed by a Stäubli six-axis cleanroom robot. The Fabmatics design team opted for a Stäubli TX2-90XL with 1,450mm reach in the Super Cleanroom (SCR) specification, which qualifies it for use in ISO Class 2 cleanroom environments. The robot also scores high marks for its extremely smooth running, which is due not only to its proprietary high-precision drive technology, but also to the superior performance of the Stäubli CS9 robot controller.

Why are such enormous demands placed on the robot’s performance? Martin Däumler, Head of Product Development at Fabmatics, explains: “Quite simply, wafers are fragile, and the value of the 25 wafers in a carrier is somewhere between 100,000 euros and the cost of a family home. Consequently, risk- and vibration-free handling as well as precise positioning in the sub-millimeter range must be ensured under all circumstances.”

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