Measurement of particle performance

In principle, nobody wants them and yet – or precisely because of this – they are a major issue in the semiconductor industry: particles. In the production of wafers, much revolves around avoiding particles as far as possible because they can lead to problems and damage.

What exactly are particles?

In principle, particles are small particles. In the semiconductor industry, one speaks of particles in connection with the clean room and the contamination of the wafers. This refers to all small particles that are harmful to the circuitry, such as tiny dust particles, skin flakes and photoresist chips, or abrasion that occurs when valves are switched, but also foreign atoms such as heavy metals.

Wafers are flat, approximately 1 mm thin slices of a semiconductor material on which microchips are manufactured. According to Moore’s law the distance between the semiconductor tracks on a wafer must become smaller and smaller. From this point of view, it is understandable that even the smallest particles, like particles, can lead to problems in production.

Optimized processes by measuring particle performance

The biggest problem that customers in the semiconductor industry often face is that, on the one hand, they don’t even know which of the components used emit particles, and on the other hand, they don’t know how many particles these are.

SMC customers have a clear advantage here: we can measure the particle output of our PFA-Valves in real time, i.e. when the valve is switched. This so-called particle performance shows how many particles a product releases during use. This works with an optical particle counter for liquids: A laser shines into the liquid – if the light is refracted by the laser, it means a particle has been detected. This knowledge of particle performance enables our customers to optimize their processes accordingly and increase their output.

 

You want to know more about particle performance measurement to optimize your processes accordingly? Contact us – our team will be happy to answer your questions.

JLV – the new, particle-optimized SMC valve series

We have developed our new JLV valve series (JLV20-Z07 and JLV30-Z11) especially for processing wafers in the semiconductor industry. If SMC valves of the JLV series are used, there is significantly less abrasion compared to similar valves and thus particles that could disrupt the production process and damage the wafer.

Microchip production requires highest purity

A wafer is the raw material from which microchips for computers are created, and translates as “thin slice.” Microchips are getting smaller and better, and their circuits are extremely small. This is why production in the semiconductor industry requires the highest purity – even the smallest traces of metals can cause short circuits.

How particle-optimized JLV valves work

In the microchip manufacturing process, the on-off valve ensures that the fluid flow of the medium is switched on or off – for example, when a chemical is applied to a wafer. The process must be particularly clean so that no impurities (particles) get onto the wafer, as this could disrupt the production process and damage the wafer or even destroy parts of the wafer.

JLV series valves are equipped with a so-called “piston shutter”. It reduces the closing speed in the last third of the shut-off process and thus reduces the kinetic energy acting on the valve seat. Less kinetic energy means less abrasion and therefore fewer particles.

Since SMC JLV series valves generate particularly few particles during the on and off switching process, the output on the customer side is increased.

 

Want to learn more about our new particle-optimized JLV valves and their potential applications? Contact us – our team will be happy to answer your questions.

 

Thermo-chiller Monitoring Software

We developed the Thermo-chiller Monitoring Software especially for cooling units of the HRR series – it is designed to make your work easier.

Conveniently, this software does not need to be installed on the user’s PC – all you must do is copy the .exe file to the target directory and start it.

The connection to the cooling unit is made using a front USB port.

Functions of the HRR-Software

The purpose of the HRR software is to display the current measurement data of the chiller and to save it (if necessary). However, you can also carry out other functions with the software:

  • Download of measurement data
  • Delivery of graphical process data (live data of the operating parameters during operation), which facilitates an overview of the current conditions of the chiller
  • Monitor the operating status and log data such as temperature, pressure and flow rate
  • Execution of tests in the respective application
  • Setting and checking all parameters as well as saving the settings in the settings menu
  • General inspection of the chiller
  • Planning of preventive maintenance intervals
  • Error analysis
  • Display of alarm descriptions and history with process data

Features of the HRR-Software

The clear user interface consists of a control bar, navigation bar, process values, product information, display area and status bar.

The diagram that supplies the graphic process data automatically adapts to the chiller used (air or water-cooled, with or without DI control function).

You can display, change and transfer the settings and reset them to the factory settings. The configuration can be saved and copied.

The intervals of the maintenance overview can be adjusted either directly on the chiller or via the HRR software.

The software is available in ten languages: German, English, French, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Turkish, Japanese, Chinese, and Korean.

 

Would you like to find out more about our HRR-Software and how it works?

Contact us – our team will be happy to answer your questions.

HF3-JSX Series Potable Water Valves

Valves for drinking water have to meet special requirements – above all high hygienic standards. In addition to valves for a wide variety of applications and branches of industry, SMC now also offers drinking water valves (HF3-JSX series) and the necessary fittings (KFG2H-E) in a hygienic design.

Areas of application for drinking water valves

The HF3-JSX series valves are 2-way solenoid valves designed for direct contact with potable water applications. They are therefore preferably used by branches of industry in which high hygienic standards are required:

  • Beverage industry: both in production and in the area of application, e.g. B. at taps (breweries, fruit juice manufacturers, winemakers, etc.)
  • Food industry (large bakeries, delicatessen, meat production, milk and cheese industry etc.)
  • Pharmaceutical industry (drug manufacturers, vaccine producers, pharmacies …)

Characteristics of the HF3-JSX drinking water valves

The housing and coil material of the drinking water valves consists of hygienic stainless steel. Both the material and the compact design ensure that the valves are easy to clean.

The valves also have other advantages:

  • energy-saving (10 percent more coil power, 14 percent less power consumption)
  • space-saving thanks to its compact and lightweight design
  • Quiet – the special design reduces metal noise during operation
  • long durability
  • Extremely resistant to corrosion and the most adverse environmental conditions
  • The electromagnetic coil can be rotated 360° and can therefore be flexibly adapted to different installation conditions

HF3-JSX series drinking water valves are also IP67 certified, i.e. H. they are dust-tight and waterproof (against temporary submersion), as well as NSF/ANSI 61 (American standard for components in potable water systems), UL and CE.

EHEDG and FDA compliant KFG2H-E series fittings

You can also get suitable fittings from us in a hygienic design – compliant with EHEDG (European Hygienic Engineering and Design Group) and FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and suitable for media temperatures from -5 to +150°C.

  • The KFG2H-E series clamp connections that go with the HF3-JSX drinking water valves are easy to clean and are designed in such a way that residual liquids roll off better after cleaning instead of being deposited. In addition, the penetration of liquids is prevented.
  • The fittings are made of 316 stainless steel and have a high level of protection against corrosion. The material used for the rubber parts is a special FKM, which is colored blue for better visibility.
  • Here you will find all specifications of the SMC drinking water valves as well as the matching clamp connections of the KFG2H-E series.

 

If you would like to find out more or have specific questions, please contact us – our team will be happy to help you.

FDA certification for 9 SMC product series in the life science sector

For medical applications, FDA certification according to 21 CFR 177.1550 is an absolute must. The materials used in our SMC product series PEAPP, TD, TH, TL, LQ3, LVD, PAB, PF and LVQ meet the required FDA regulations of § 177.1550. This means: All our PFA articles in the product lines pumps, tubing and valves are made of materials that meet the FDA regulations.

Who is the FDA?

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is a U.S. agency responsible for the approval and market surveillance of food, drugs and medical devices.

FDA guidelines specify which materials, equipment and tools may be used when handling certain classes of products. The aim here is to achieve product purity and avoid certain contamination by pathogens such as mold.

Approval by the FDA thus certifies that

  • the benefits of a product outweigh the known risks,
  • the relevant FDA requirements are met
  • and that there is no risk to end users when the product is used properly.

Special requirements in the life science sector

Part of the life science sector is medical technology. Companies in this sector, for example dental technicians or manufacturers of equipment for analyzing blood, proteins and urine, need a reliable, competent partner at their side. FDA approval also becomes necessary for companies that produce food (e.g. breweries and manufacturers of other beverages).

Not all suppliers are FDA-certified, or their products only have insufficient certification. For customers, this can lead to problems with authorities or they may not even be able to use the products in question.

With the SMC product series mentioned above, however, you are on the safe side: Since the materials used meet the requirements of FDA certification § 177.1550, you can be sure that there will be no contamination by our products and that your approvals will be approved without any problems.

 

Are you interested in details of our FDA-certified product series? Contact us – our team will be happy to answer your questions.

Positioners – Applications, advantages and types

A positioner converts the electrical or pneumatic input signal into a corresponding output signal that determines the setpoint position. The position feedback is characteristic for a positioner: It is used to determine the actual position and readjusts a possible difference if necessary.

Our positioners work according to the nozzle/flapper system principle: An air nozzle blows compressed air onto a flapper. The flapper then moves or changes the distance – depending on the position of the valve -and thus changes the back pressure in the system until the setpoint of the value is reached and equilibrium prevails.

Here you can find out more about how it works

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Where are positioners used?

Positioners are found wherever the flow of liquids or gases in pipelines has to be controlled – usually in conjunction with control valves, but also other industrial valves such as ball valves, segment valves, butterfly valves and gate valves with pneumatic actuators. Positioners are also needed to control steam in pipelines, which is used to heat processes or transport energy in power plants.

Industrie - Wo werden Positioner eingesetzt?

What advantage do positioners bring?

When processes are automated and optimized, precisely defined flow rates are often required e.g. an industrial valve with a pneumatic actuator can be used for this purpose. However, such an actuator has the limitation that it can only open or close fully.

An additional positioner, on the other hand, allows you to control the actuator to any intermediate position – so you can precisely adjust your cylinder. This allows you to optimize the efficiency of the system and save valuable resources at the same time.

Positioner types

For single and double acting actuators

All SMC positioners can be used for double-acting actuators and, by closing one signal output, also for single-acting actuators. Double-acting actuators are equipped with two compressed air connections (one for each direction), single-acting only with one (a return spring always moves the actuator to the initial position without compressed air).

CYPO Positioner-Typen für einfach- und doppeltwirkende Antriebe

For linear or rotary actuators

The mounting of positioners on rotary actuators (ball valves, butterfly valves) differs from that on linear actuators (control valves, cylinder positioners), so that different mounting bridges and connecting parts are always required.

For some SMC series, such as the IP8*, you will find dedicated positioners for linear drives (IP800*) and for rotary drives (IP810*). For the ND9000 and ND7000 series, you can select the required accessories as an option.

Pneumatic, electric or smart

Pneumatic positioners use a signal pressure of 0.02-0.1 MPa to adjust the position of the actuator, making them suitable even for extreme environmental conditions such as temperatures of 100°C.

We also supply you with external electro-pneumatic pressure regulators e.g. the series ITV. Those can be used to convert an electrical signal into signal pressure.

CYPO+ITV Pneumatisch, elektrisch oder smart

Positioner

 

lectric positioners are adjusted with an electrical signal – usually a DC signal with 4-20 mA.

Smart Positioners also have a built-in microcontroller (usually with a display). This automates calibration and allows you to set alarm limits and use digital transmission protocols (such as HART).

 

Everything from a single source at SMC

At SMC you will find all the necessary components for the automation of your valves: positioners, special valves up to the complete compressed air supply as well as corresponding accessories such as one-touch fittings made of stainless steel.

We also have many special versions in our product range, e.g. positioner with external position sensor without mechanical connection to the actuator, with flameproof enclosure, suitable for low temperatures down to -40°C – please contact us if you are interested.

Mounting bridges and mounting kits are also available on request and will be developed and produced by us according to your requirements.

Positioner

Contact us for more information – we are happy to develop individual solutions for you, precisely tailored to your applications, wishes and requirements!

Greenfield investments in industrial automation

The fourth industrial revolution has long since begun: “Industry 4.0” describes the digital networking of manufacturing processes – people, machines and processes are intelligently connected to each other via the Internet. The computer no longer functions as the central technology, but the Internet.

Anyone contemplating a major construction project is well advised to rely on competent, reliable partners right from the start.

What exactly does »Greenfield« mean?

Greenfield investment is the construction of a new production site »on a green field«. Examples of greenfield projects are new, fully digitized factories, power plants, production facilities and manufacturing plants.

So-called smart factories are based on digitally transformed and networked production, in which all machines and systems are equipped with sensors or chips and thanks to their “smart” functionality, processes can be continuously optimized.

Difference between Greenfield and Brownfield

Manufacturing plants and factories are usually built with a lifespan of at least 20 to 25 years. Only then can the costs be amortized and profits generated. That’s why greenfield investments tend to be the exception.

Many companies are therefore implementing digitization as part of a brownfield approach: In the first step, all analog components and processes of an existing production plant are digitized. The actual digital transformation then takes place, in which machines, people and materials are digitally networked using sensors or chips. That means manufacturing, delivery, maintenance, production, delivery and customer service are linked in real time via the Internet.

Automation in greenfield projects

If you plan and build a smart factory, automation is just as much a part as the construction of systems for gases, liquids, instrumentation and temperature control. When building a new production, the entire installation for all media must be created and also automated.

At SMC we can offer you a wide range of components for gas and chemical lines as well as solutions for cooling circuits.

Gas components

Every gas supply system has specific pressure, flow and material requirements. We can provide you with complete solutions for your gas applications – from regulators and valves to venturi vacuum generators to sensors.

Liquids

With our ultra high purity products such as diaphragm pumps, chemical valves and pressure regulators, we can support you in automating your processes in the high-end industrial sector while increasing productivity and efficiency at the same time. It also gives you precise control over acids, bases and other liquid chemicals.

Tempering

Numerous industrial processes in which heat is generated, such as lasers, analytics, welding, semiconductors, the printing industry, etc., require the use of temperature control units. This allows the temperature to be monitored and controlled, and the quality of the end product can also be improved if the cooling unit is selected and sized correctly.

Are you planning a greenfield investment and looking for a competent partner who will help you set up and automate the necessary systems for all media?

Contact us – we look forward to your greenfield project and would be happy to advise you!

Cooling systems in 3D printing

The field of additive manufacturing, as 3D printing is usually called in an industrial context, has grown exponentially in recent years. Three-dimensional objects are created by applying material layer by layer.

At the same time, the requirements regarding the protection of the devices from heat are increasing. Heat build-up should be avoided as far as possible, as theycan have an extremely negative effect:

  • Parts of machines can be destroyed
  • the service life is reduced
  • costs are rising

3D Printing: How It Works and Benefits

3D-Druck: Funktionsweise und Vorteile

In 3D printing, a component is built up layered by fusing or curing amedium. The fusion of metal powder is usually achieved with laser beams, the curing of resins with an exposure unit. The more constant the operating temperature of the laser or exposure unit, the more precise the resultof the printedmodel.

3D printing is a high-precision technology that delivers high-quality printing results – the cooling of the devices must therefore be correspondingly precise, temperature-stable and reliable.

Thereare four main advantages to this:

  • the effort in post-processing is lower
  • Longer service life of the laser or light source
  • lower costs
  • shorter delivery time

With FDM(Fused  Deposition Modeling, which is printing with plastic filament Dra Ht),water cooling may also berequired  if, for example, motors to drive the axles, the nozzles or the installation space itself have to be cooled.

Overall, the technologies of 3D printing bring great advantages in terms of efficiency,quality, costs and delivery times.

Where is 3D printing used?

Depending on the printing technology, different industries are served. Areas of application include: industry, model making, research, construction and medicine.

Classic materials for 3D printing are plastics, synthetic resins, ceramics and specially prepared metals.

The most established additive manufacturing processes include: stereolithography, laser sintering, laser beam melting, electron beam melting andmuch more.

The printing of ceramics is mainly used in the aerospace industry for the production of turbine motors as well as in medical technology, for example for the production of dental implants.

In the field of finishing  (which includes all processesthat come after production in 3D printing) in metallic 3D printing, the aim is to cool the heat generated in the chemical post-treatment process in the acid baths.

Cooling systems from SMC

At SMC, we have been producing cooling machines since1978, and our cooling systems have evolved over the years with the requirements and needs of our customers. SMC devices stand out for their high reliability (24/7 operation without failures) and temperature stability.

You will find various cooling solutions with us, including

  • Standard cooler
  • Rack Mount Coolers
  • Dual Channel Coolers
  • High-level coolers
Kühlsysteme von SMC

We accompany our customers from the starting signal to the completion of a project: From the first calculation to on-site tests, includingselecting the right cooler, to installation and commissioning.

When working together, you benefit from our global support, as we are represented in more than 80 countries. In addition, you can reduce the number of suppliers because we are at your disposal as a complete supplier (cooling, pneumatics, fittings, hoses).

Would you like to learn more about our possibilities in the field of cooling and temperature control in 3D printing?

Contact us – our team will be happy to answer your questions.

 

CVD and PVD coating processes

CVD (Chemical Vapor Deposition) and PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition) are coating processes that are often used for the surface treatment of tools and molds.

CVD – how it works

Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) is a coating process that produces thicker layers and is subject to comparatively high pressure and temperature. The most important application of CVD is wafer coating.

In CVD, a substrate is heated, on the surface of which a solid component is deposited from the gas phase as a result of a chemical reaction. In order to be able to deposit the solid layer at a specific reaction temperature, volatile compounds of the layer components must be present.

In contrast to physical processes, chemical vapor deposition can also be used to coat surfaces with complex three-dimensional shapes, such as the finest indentations in wafers.

Applications of chemical vapor deposition (CVD)

  • Electronics industry (chip manufacture)
  • Refining of glass (e.g. heat protection layers on architectural glass or protection against mechanical shock loads in bottling plants)
  • optical coatings on glass and plastic
  • gas-tight barrier layers
  • synthetic diamond layers on tools

 PVD – how it works

PVD is based on physical vapor deposition. These are vacuum-based coating processes or thin-film technologies. In contrast to the CVD process, the layer is formed here directly by condensing a material vapor from the starting material.

Physical vapor deposition involves very low pressure (high vacuum) and comparatively low temperatures, typically resulting in very thin coatings.

PVD processes are characterized by:

  • Gas (vapor) generation of the layer-forming particles
  • the vapor is transported to the substrate
  • and condenses on this, resulting in layer formation

Applications of physical vapor deposition (PVD)

  • Industry, especially in the field of machining
  • Microelectronics
  • Chip Manufacturing
  • Tools
  • Jewellery
  • Glass coating (architectural glass, displays …)
  • Food industry
  • Entertainment electronics (hard drives, CDs, DVDs)

High vacuum required

Physical vapor deposition only works in high vacuum because an extremely clean environment is essential for the manufacture of microchips, CDs and DVDs. Even the smallest particles are a big problem.

That is why venting a high-vacuum chamber is always a major challenge. It is important to aerate them slowly and in a controlled manner, because venting too quickly creates turbulence that stirs up particles in the chamber.

At SMC you get all the components you need for CVD processes and for ventilation and evacuation of your high-vacuum chamber for PVD processes: a wide variety of valves, temperature control units, sensors, etc.

Would you like to learn more about the various components?

Contact us – our team will be happy to answer your questions and advise you on your individual requirements.

Optimized components and individual solutions for dust collector systems

Dust filters are used in many different industries – they remove dust and dirt from the exhaust air. In order to clean the filters, they are blown off shock-like by a strong compressed air pulse. For this you need pulse valves.

What is dust actually?

Dust is defined as the smallest, partially invisible, solid particles that can float in the air. Dust can simply be annoying and unpleasant (dirt, wear), but also life-threatening (carcinogenic, explosive). Especially fine dust poses high health risks.

Anthropogenic dusts endanger health

In most cases, anthropogenic dusts are fine dusts that can be hazardous to health because they can contain substances such as lead or mercury. In addition, hydrocarbons or sulfur compounds can settle on their surfaces.

For this reason, especially in the industrial sector, attempts are made to remove dust from the air directly at the source.

There are many sources of dust in industry: in the production of cement, tablets, fertilizers, wood pellets and asphalt, in sawmills, bakeries, foundries and grain mills, in furniture production, waste incineration, textile processing, powder coating and blasting technology, in recycling, welding, soldering and flame cutting, in grinding processes, in fossil power generation, in ore mining and many more.

Anthropogenic dusts endanger health  In most cases, anthropogenic dusts are fine dusts that can be hazardous to health because they can contain substances such as lead or mercury. In addition, hydrocarbons or sulfur compounds can settle on their surfaces.  For this reason, especially in the industrial sector, attempts are made to remove dust from the air directly at the source.  There are many sources of dust in industry: in the production of cement, tablets, fertilizers, wood pellets and asphalt, in sawmills, bakeries, foundries and grain mills, in furniture production, waste incineration, textile processing, powder coating and blasting technology, in recycling, welding, soldering and flame cutting, in grinding processes, in fossil power generation, in ore mining and many more.

 

Jet pulse cleaning with the JSXFA pulse valve

Whether in central dust collectors or local dust extraction systems – at some point every filter element is saturated. Hardly any of the air loaded with dust can be sucked in anymore and reach the external environment again as cleaned air.

The filters are cleaned by short, shock-like blow-offs in the opposite direction. A short burst of compressed air pushes the filter cake off the filter material. By inflating the filter bag, any additional encrusted dirt can flake off.

A central element in the cleaning of the filters is the pulse valve. Its task is to provide the largest possible amount of air in the shortest possible time to blow off the filter cake by a shock pulse. The decisive factor is therefore the pressure pulse as the result of air pressure (impact force) and compressed air volume.

Advantages of the JSXFA Series Pulse Valve

In addition to impulse valves of the JSXFA series, SMC also provides electrical (VXF2 series) and pneumatic (VXFA2 series) pulse valves.

Image: pulse valves series JSXFA
Image: pulse valves series JSXFA

 

The valves of the new JSXFA series have numerous advantages:

  • Higher flow rate of up to 50 percent compared to conventional pulse valves thanks to improved geometry.
  • Together with its faster response, it generates about 15 percent higher pressure pulse.
  • At the same time, the large “pressure release hole” promotes faster closing and reduces the total air consumption of the blowing pulse by around 35 percent.
  • Extremely long service life of at least 10 million cycles due to springless design and special high-strength elastomer diaphragm. With one cleaning per minute, a failure would therefore be expected after approx. 19 years – but since the cleaning intervals are two to ten minutes, the service life is even longer.
  • Extremely service-friendly: easier installation and faster maintenance thanks to springless diaphragm (even when installed).
  • Can be used for a wide temperature range (-40 to +60°C).
  • A reduction of response time by about 45 percent when switching off.

Complete solutions from SMC

To be able to emit the required strong compressed air pulse, the valves are connected to a small compressed-air tank. We are happy to offer such tanks on request with the help of our integrators.

Pilot valves and a control system in a cabinet are often used to control the pulse valves. The VXFC controller, which is equipped with a double pulse function, is suitable for electrical control. It optimizes the dust filter performance of the bag filter and can interrupt operation using input signals via an external switch.

As a special solution, we can offer a complete cabinet with all electrical and pneumatic components.

Header Tank
Image: header tank
control cabinet
Image: control cabinet

Do you want to reduce the CO2 footprint of your products and learn more about our material-optimized and energy-saving JSXFA pulse valves? Or are you interested in our VXF2 and VXFA2 series pulse valves? 

Get in touch with us – our team will be happy to answer your questions.