Technology utilizes minienvironments to improve ultraclean wipers
Upper Saddle River, NJ
A technology developed by The Texwipe Co. (Upper Saddle River, NJ) aims to clean up the process of manufacturing wipers used in critical environments.
The Vectra process, which will be announced this month at Semicon West, is a proprietary system that utilizes minienvironments to produce ultraclean wipers in successive steps rather than in batch processes in industrial-scale washers and tumble dryers. According to company officials, the resulting wipers` cleanliness levels are significantly higher than those achieved to date through conventional cleanroom laundering methods.
The company says early testing indicates that Vectra wipers are 10 times cleaner than Texwipe`s highest-end wipers, which include sealed-edge wipers for cleanroom Classes 1 through 10. The cost of Vectra wipers is comparable to that of other high-end wipers on the market today.
“This system has gotten rid of the limitations of the [currently used] technology and improved the quality of the product,” claims Jeff Tyrrell, Texwipe`s product manager for wipers. “In other cleanroom laundries, there`s no quality check until the product is done. Vectra identifies defects immediately.”
The Vectra system has been in development for six years. It consists of modules for specific cleaning functions, which are housed in minienvironments connected to each other. During cleaning, the process is monitored by sensors using in-line statistical process control. As wipers are fabricated, they are automatically stacked and inspected using machine vision, which uses a special camera and computer hookup to photograph the part of the wiper to be inspected and then compares it against programmed quality parameters. Texwipe says it can scan for more than 100 defects within a fraction of a second and accept or reject a wiper according to set criteria.
“It`s completely automated, so Vectra-produced wipers will show minimal variation,” claims Steve Paley, Texwipe president. “And unlike humans, computers never get tired. They provide the same quality of inspection over any time period.”
While the industry acknowledges there will never be a wiper that carries no risk of contamination, Texwipe believes Vectra will meet the increasingly clean requirements of next-generation users.
“Texwipe long ago realized the fundamental limitations of the cleanroom laundering process. The laundering process both removes and creates contamination simultaneously. Hand stacking and inspecting wipers is labor-intensive and fraught with opportunity for error,” Paley explains. “We realized that this technology would not be clean enough to meet the needs of the future, so we started from ground zero and engineered a cleaning system for the 21st century.” — TGW