Fab Optimized

A Fala 200 mm blade housingAround 1999 Micrus (a division of IBM Microelectronics at the time) observed excessive contamination coming from its HP and VHP robots. They brought the problem to their long time partner Fala Technologies.

Fala considered various designs that could fit within the robot form factor. In the end, they released a full complement 4-point shielded ceramic hybrid bearing, first for HP™ robots and then for VHP™ robots.

The use of ceramic balls and stainless steel spacer balls eliminated the brass and nylon cages that were used to separate the rolling elements. Those static cages were causing a catalytic reaction in the lubricant and premature grease breakdown.

4-point (also called gothic) bearings are symmetrical and can be loaded from either side. They are significantly more rigid than angular bearings and eliminate droop and extraneous robot vibrations that can cause wafer scratching.

Thin overhanging robots are common in the semiconductor industry. While generally light, these robots can overload bearings in the off-axis direction when fully extended. Fala understood that engineering limitation early on, and placed as many balls as possible from the onset. Full complement reduces the net force on any given ball and makes the robot more rigid.

Shielding was the final design element incorporated into the Micrus prototypes. The presence of the shield would ultimately serve 2 functions: to keep bearing contaminants from being released in the fab environment and to act as a reservoir of lubricant by preventing grease migration.

The initial Fala bearing performance was a leap over existing products, and the results were widely reported at Sematech and other industry gatherings. The product line was in time extended to cover most thin film robots as well as related spare parts.

Sparetech was Fala's primary distributor from the early days. They have worked together to deepen and broaden the product line over time.

Fala bearings are now widely used in semiconductor manufacturing for thin film deposition, etch, rapid thermal processing, wet etch, and high temperature processes.

 

Sparetech Timeline

1999 HP™ full complement shielded ceramic hybrid bearings

2000 VHP™ full complement shielded ceramic hybrid bearings

2004 VHP™ 300, XP™ wrist assembly

2005 200 mm pivots and housings

2006 Producer®, Centura® SE and XP® waist bearings

2007 200 mm blades, VxP™ waist assemblies

2008 HDP housing, DRM bearing

2009 MKS® valve bearings, Ulvac™ Keytran bearings

2010 DRL distribution

2011 ACP and eHub assembly rework

2012 DSS+ bearings and tray upgrades, GUTC distribution, Vélios