Semi equipment manufacturer streamlines cleanroom production



WEILBURG, Germany - Higher cleanroom standards and more space for development of its LMS IPRO3 mask metrology technology have prompted Leica Microsystems ( to replace its existing cleanroom with a nearly 2,000-square-foot facility that will be used for system assembly and integration as well as for customer acceptance tests.

Leica Microsystems, recently acquired by Illinois-based Danaher Corp. (see related story, below), specializes in high-precision optical instrumentation used in microscopy, imaging systems, specimen preparation, medical equipment, and semiconductor manufacturing equipment. Its automated LMS IPRO3 technology is designed to support mask metrology requirements for 65 nm processes, and has been acclaimed for its measurement performance and reliability.

In bringing together assembly lines previously maintained at two locations, the new cleanroom has integrated “the component assembly team into a Class 100,000 [ISO Class 8] cleanroom environment, and the ‘fine-tuning team’ (packaging, system integration) into a Class 10,000 [ISO Class 7] cleanroom,” explains Erhard Buerding, production manager for microelectronic inspection equipment at the Weilburg plant.

“Our clients carrying out system acceptance tests will appreciate the larger and modernized cleanroom facilities; its central location also optimizes logistics with all relevant inventory locations,” Buerding adds.

The combined cleanroom features high-performance capabilities for maintaining required temperature and humidity levels, and includes new cleanroom-specific chairs, coated work tables, and washable antistatic garments.
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The new combined cleanroom features high-performance capabilities for maintaining stable temperature and humidity levels. In addition, Buerding says, “It is now possible to assemble five systems simultaneously, instead of three previously.”

Specific manufacturing tasks within the contamination-controlled space include component and system assembly in Class 100 [ISO Class 5] flow boxes, system integration within a Class 1 [ISO Class 3] climate-controlled chamber, and packaging. All parts pass through a material/packaging lock and are precleaned.

Suppliers deliver cleanroom-compatible materials that are precleaned and cleanroom shrink-wrapped. The company says its new cleanroom areas are tested and evaluated monthly.

Combining the system integration and assembly cleanroom areas, says Buerding, enables a more flexible and efficient use of manpower, reduces throughput time, and improves quality. The renovation is also designed to significantly lower contamination risks.

M+W Zander (Stuttgart, Germany;, which installed the new facility in three months, first dismantled much of the cleanroom that had been in use at the Weilburg plant, salvaging sections of it. “Usage of existing bottom, chilling and exhaust systems is the reason why this project could be done so quickly,” says M+W Zander spokesman Michael Gemeinhardt.

Leica Microsystems’ new cleanroom consolidates assembly lines previously maintained at two other locations, integrating component assembly into a Class 100,000 [ISO Class 8] environment and packaging/system integration into a Class 10,000 [ISO Class 7] clean area.
Click here to enlarge image

The new clean-manufacturing space required new stainless-steel lockers, cleanroom chairs, coated work tables, and washable antistatic garments. In addition, all cleanroom personnel have received training in clothing regulations, use of documents, electrostatic discharge (ESD), and general procedures to follow while working in the facility.

“Each employee is committed to complying with these instructions, and receives six months of training sessions for maintaining proper cleanroom standards,” adds Buerding.

To boost the number of qualified personnel, Leica says it has begun to “systematically qualify its workforce.” More than half of the employees at the Weilburg facility are now either engineers or technical specialists. Thirteen qualified workers have been transferred from Leica’s Microelectronic Inspection Equipment unit in Wetzlar, Germany, and more are expected to follow.

Instrumentation manufacturer to acquire Leica Microsystems

WOOD DALE, Ill. - Pending regulatory approval, Danaher Corp. (, manufacturer of professional instrumentation, industrial technologies, tools (including Craftsman), and components, expects to finalize its acquisition of Leica Microsystems before year’s end. The $550 million purchase price includes an unspecified assumed debt and other liabilities and transaction costs.

The sale, says Danaher President and CEO H. Lawrence Culp, Jr., “makes strong strategic and financial sense for both companies. Leica Microsystems’ technology in high-precision optical instrumentation and its well-known brand will extend Danaher’s professional instrumentation segment into life sciences while complementing our existing critical-care diagnostics and dental businesses.”

Dr. Wolf-Otto Reuter, CEO of Leica Microsystems, adds, “As part of Danaher, we expect to be able to extend Leica Microsystems’ leadership in its fields of operation, particularly in medicine and biotechnology.”