5 Reasons to Upgrade Your Etch and Deposition Equipment

Upgrades to existing equipment deliver several advantages when compared to the purchase of new equipment. The most pronounced advantages include lower installation costs and reduced production downtime.  Benefits to upgrading also include little to no new training and little to no new stock to keep in stores.

Why upgrade your etch and deposition equipment? 

Here are some reasons to consider upgrading:

  1. Lower Cost of Ownership: The purchase of new equipment and introduction into a manufacturing line can be lengthy and costly. New equipment can involve re-qualification of the end-to-end process both internally and with existing customers.  In comparison, upgrading existing equipment typically only involves local qualification of equipment after upgrading.  Upgrading or retrofitting existing equipment lowers the cost of ownership with quickly realized benefits of longer up times between maintenance and less use of consumable components.

  2. Cost-Effectiveness: Upgrading existing equipment can improve the manufacturing process by gaining better uptimes, resulting in improved cycle time and throughput.  Reducing the frequency of part replacements and cleans leads to less equipment downtime, engineering qualifications, and preventive maintenance.  Additionally, the purchase of new equipment could change the footprint of the space in the manufacturing line, whereas upgrading existing equipment most likely only requires the existing space. Plus, the implementation of automation adds a cost-effective benefit by reducing handling time and overhead associated with manual wafer processing.

  3. New Process Requirements: Changing to new equipment in the manufacturing line usually requires a new process qualification.  Qualifying a new process can force the process to be changed both upfield and downfield of the new equipment installation.  Upgrading existing equipment is less likely to trigger this event.  New equipment could require an end-to-end process qualification with additional training of the maintenance, engineering, and operations staff.  Furthermore, new equipment necessitates the integration of a different control system to assure compatibility with existing systems. Implementing a completely new control system takes up IT resources and time to train the end-users.  Upgrading or retrofitting existing equipment usually does not involve this expense or complex new systems integration.

  4. Increased Uptime:  Upgraded equipment positively impacts uptime by decreasing maintenance downtime due to mean time between cleaning and equipment process drift.  Upgrade packages such as turbopumps, rf components, and throttle valves can increase productivity and expand process capacity of existing systems.

  5. Replacing Obsolete Parts:  Upgrades and retrofits can enhance capabilities, improve reliability, and replace obsolete hardware. Obsolete parts are hard to find, expensive, and may require special tooling or custom builds.  New equipment historically involves a steep learning curve with a new control system and unfamiliar components. Existing control systems become outdated over time.  Computer upgrade packages have become readily available for installation.  

How do you upgrade etch and deposition equipment?  

First, you should contact your etch and deposition partner to see what updates are currently available and if they meet your production line needs. However, if your provider does not have upgrades that accomplish the task, it may be time to find a new partner.  Finding the right equipment partner is essential in meeting the demands of cost, output, and quality. 

To learn more about choosing the right ally for equipment advice on specific operational needs, check out our free eBook “How to Choose a Plasma Etching and Deposition Equipment Partner.”

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