Automation comes to wet-processing stations

July 10, 2002
Requirements coming out of semiconductor manufacturing have resulted in the development of a stepmotor driver able to generate up to 500,000 steps/rev. This high resolution effectively eliminates vibration and motor resonances that lead to missing steps.

A touch-screen interface (upper left corner) on Amerimade's automated wet-processing stations lets operators download various recipes and perform other monitoring and control functions. CTC Model 2700 controllers let the machines adapt to fit into many different manufacturing applications.

The 5100 Series Blue Fusion controller incorporates highperformance servo and stepper control, as well as room for up to 50 I/O. It has a built-in 10/100 Base T Ethernet port to query via a secure XML interface.

Flexible processors helped Amerimade Technology Inc. automate wet-processing stations for etching, cleaning, stripping, and plating.

The controllers are Model 2700 units from Control Technology Corp., Hopkinton, Mass. They coordinate the transfer of items from one bath to another via a servo-driven X-Z robot arm.

State language capabilities built into the controller let the Livermore, Calif.-based maker of wet-processing stations implement recipes for making these transfers at precise times, for a variety of products.

Operators set up the station, actuate pumps and heaters, and down-load recipes through the controller touchscreen.

The touchscreen also is a means of monitoring immersion times, bath temperatures, flow rates and levels, as well as the status of the bath sequence. A commercially available HMI connected to the 2700 controller provides historical trending, alarm logging, and other data management and display functions.

Developers at Amerimade say the CTC state language, called Quickstep, saves design time in customizing the wet-processing stations because it is easy to learn and program compared to other PLC programming languages. This is important because every tool shipped is specially configured to the application, each of which can have dramatically different processes and needs.

Modem connections to the CTC controller permit remote troubleshooting and upgrades for system software. Once the station is in operation, a customer can ask Amerimade to devise recipes to handle a new product or tweak the processing for existing items.

These new recipes may be down-loaded to the controller on-site to quickly upgrade the system, without a service call.

The automatic operation handled by the controllers is seen as a big improvement over manual wet-processing stations, where an operator transfers the components from one bath to another. Automation reduces operator exposure to harmful bath chemicals and vapors because a robot handles all transfers from one bath to another. Gone, too, is the risk of repetitive motion injuries that may arise from manual transfers. And because transfers are recipe-driven, automation also increases run-to-run and shift-to-shift consistency that can ultimately boost productivity.

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