Semi Fab Reduces Wafer Scrap with Pneumatic Manifold Retrofit Kits

Case Study Overview/Challenge: Obsolete Pneumatic Manifold Affects Wafer Production

Semifab equipment across the country utilizes pneumatic manifolds in day-to-day operation. With these manifolds comes the inevitable challenge of avoiding wafer scrap and properly maintaining the valves they house.  Specifically, three factors make maintenance on this equipment particularly challenging.

First, in order to access these manifolds, maintenance personnel are required to squeeze themselves into a very confined place. 

Second, it is often the case that the manufacturer has discontinued the valve line being used.  Many of these valves are 20+ years old.  They are simply not in production anymore.  This forces operators to hunt down valves from a third-party source or in some cases, rebuild the semiconductor equipment.

Third, in order to replace one valve on the manifold, the air supply to the entire manifold must be shut off. Shutting off the manifold air supply can cause process chamber conditions to change resulting in costly wafer scrap and damage.

Semiconductor manufacturers waste a significant amount of time and resources by being forced to remove and discard defective wafers from the equipment. One semifab came to Valin looking for a viable solution.

Solution: A Reliable, Enhanced, Retrofitable Pneumatic Manifold

Valin developed its new Pneumatic Manifold Retrofit Kits to help solve the maintenance problems and reduce wafer scrap. The valves are rated to 150 million cycles and are equipped with individual shut off blocks. The electronics are integral and are fully compatible with the semifab tool. This means that individual valves can be shut off one at a time. By allowing the flexibility of individual valve shut off, Valin’s Pneumatic Manifold retrofit kit prevents adjacent process chamber conditions to change by shutting off the air supply to other valves and thus, damaging wafers during the process.

Valin offers this solution for the Endura SVD (Slit Valve Door) Manifolds and similar solutions for the Centura Gas Box Manifolds and Centura Chamber Manifolds. Additionally, the plug-in-play solution comes with installation instructions that take away all the headaches typically associated with this type of replacement.

Results: Reduced Wafer Scrap with High Reliability and Plugin Compatibility

Valin’s Pneumatic Manifold retrofit kits provide upgrades that ultimately reduce tool downtime and eliminate CDA leaks.  The upgrades will also improve performance with larger CV (.2) and higher flowrate for faster valve actuation.

The solution reduces potential wafer scrap and allows valves to be rated to 150 million cycles. Considering that 100 wafers scrapped could be worth in upwards of $1 million, it is easy to see how the benefits far outweigh the cost. 

Customer Insights On Wafer Scrap Reduction

Valin’s Pneumatic Manifold Retrofit Kits have been an absolute life saver for us.  Since upgrading to Valin’s manifold solution, we have had to change out four valves at separate times.  Without the ability to shut off the doors one at a time, we would have likely had four separate wafer scraps because of these four maintenance events.  However, with this new technology, that hasn’t been the case.  The solution is truly a home run not only in the hardware, but the procedural materials that instructed us how to install it.  Very easy and intuitive." 

Dave McGuire, NXP Semiconductors