How Can You Improve Factory Output in Thin Film Deposition?

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Factory output is one of the most critical factors affecting overall production performance. Whether you’re manufacturing for high or low volume applications, you need to be able to meet production needs in the most cost-effective way possible, and scale into higher production when needed. Finding ways to raise your factory output, or net yielded throughput, for your thin film deposition system can help you lower your cost of ownership and increase ROI.

Throughput Requirements Across Different Applications

Some applications require an enormous manufacturing throughput, which can be explained as the per-hour output of the equipment. We typically see this in very standardized industries such as the semiconductor and consumer electronics markets. However, even products that aren’t being mass produced still need to be able to match customer demand and desired time to market. Cooled IR detectors, for example, are an emerging commercial application, and diode laser demand is soaring as telecom amplifiers for 5G, facial recognition, and LIDAR applications emerge and grow.

As these applications develop, manufacturers will need to keep up with throughput needs in the most cost-efficient way. However, throughput per hour isn’t the only important factor. Net yielded throughput, or the number of good parts produced in total per day or per month, is just as important to meeting demand for production.

Factors to Consider to Improve Net Yielded Throughput

To raise your factory output, or net yielded throughput, you should account for the following factors:

  • Yield: By improving your manufacturing yield, you’ll produce more usable products that meet the desired performance specs, enabling you to reach a higher net yielded throughput.
  • Repeatability and precision: These are both closely related to yield, because they are two of the most important factors in determining the performance of a thin film. If your thin film deposition system can precisely hit on the specs needed consistently across every single run, your yield will go up and so will your factory output.
  • Uptime: System uptime is absolutely critical to meeting production requirements. You may not be in a 24/7 manufacturing facility, but your equipment still needs to be running efficiently (and when you need it!) in order to meet your net yielded throughput threshold.

Equipment and Tools for Improving Throughput

Reliable equipment is the first step to meeting production requirements and scaling up for higher throughput requirements. If your system is constantly breaking down or needs a lot of maintenance, you will lose valuable time and, most likely, you will miss your targets for net yielded throughput. So the very first step to ensuring your production process can deliver the factory output needed is to invest in a proven system from a reliable service partner who will support their equipment.

Adding a front-end option is an excellent way to increase your throughput per hour, and if you’re using a compatible deposition module, it’ll be easy to scale your entire system up or down depending on production requirements. A single chamber, single wafer load lock is a simple front-end option that automatically adds one wafer at a time into your system. A cassette load lock is another option; up to 25 wafers can be automatically loaded into the module. Both options add efficiency to your process, to raise your throughput per hour and raise your net yielded throughput with higher uptime as well.

You can also consider adding a plasma emission monitor (PEM), optical monitoring system (OMS) or other in-situ control. These controls enable better process control and make real-time adjustments to reach desired specs in order to improve throughput, and indirectly improve repeatability and precision to help with total factory output as well.

For higher throughput needs, you can also consider adding a cluster tool, a sophisticated front-end option with dual cassette load locks and multiple chambers for maximum throughput and efficiency. To learn more about enabling high-volume manufacturing, watch this video on Denton Vacuum’s Versa cluster tool.