control along the entire manufacturing chain
Increasingly, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in the semiconductor industry are outsourcing the construction of advanced subsystems to a single supplier. This benefits the OEM in a number of ways, such as by freeing them to concentrate on product development, marketing and sales. But being able to manufacture complex systems, such as high-accuracy large frames in a high cleanliness class with a short lead time, demands a combination of technologies that few companies are able to achieve.
As an expert in the machining, welding and cleanroom integration of vacuum chambers, including loading and unloading chambers, Aalberts advanced mechatronics has developed into a one-stop-shop deploying a unique combination of competences for ultra large and accurate machining for customers looking to purchase high-quality vacuum chambers, machine frames and other high-tech products.
everything under one roof
"We are investing heavily in this area," says Tom Broeksema, global sales manager at Aalberts advanced mechatronics. "For example, we have been building frames for a large vacuum chamber, which is part of a chip manufacturing machine for a leading semiconductor OEM. But we no longer only mill and weld the frames, which consist of different compartments. After acquiring large ultra-clean purification capabilities for surface cleaning, we now also carry out the entire cleaning process. Previously, this work was outsourced to third parties. However, doing this in-house has led to a huge cost-of-goods advantage and significantly reduced the risk of contamination."
Support from Aalberts headquarters is a vital part of making this possible, as they have both the vision and the resources to invest in the increasingly important role of system supplier. "This support enables us to integrate vertically under one roof," Tom says. "We can engineer, manufacture and test high-precision frames in-house. For example, following consultation with the OEM we replaced manual welding with robotised e-beam welding. That has yielded significant time savings: the manual welding took four weeks, whereas with e-beam welding the job is done in half a day. Having the support of headquarters means we can concentrate on R&D, system design, engineering and new product industrialisation, enabling us to successfully contribute to the technology roadmap of our OEM customers."