PTO helps SolMateS automate deposition platform
“PTO is a true SDK solution.”
Kristiaan Bohm, COO of SolMateS B.V.
SolMateS’ pulsed-laser deposition technology is used for a wide variety of thin-layer, piezo-based applications including print heads, micro pumps, RF-MEMS, micro-mirrors and other chip-based sensors and actuators. SolMateS has both a development and a volume production platform (PiezoFlare-800 and PiezoFlare-1200). To support both tools, SolMateS was looking for an automation software solution that has been designed for maximum flexibility with minimal engineering impact, enabling a smooth transition from development to high-volume production. Critical to achieving this flexibility is a control system that can adapt to new physical and process control changes.
“We wanted the freedom to change hardware components, chamber control logic and recipe sequencing to support both our development and production tool and as we advanced our tool processing, throughput and quality over time,” said Kristiaan Bohm, COO of SolMateS B.V. “PTO gives us that flexibility through a user-configuration design paradigm which simplifies and reduces our engineering team effort and allows us to focus on our process technology.”
The first PiezoFlare, automated by PTO™ (PEER Tool Orchestrator), shipped in February 2013.
“We are not software developers, we are tool engineers. With PTO, we can quickly configure each new tool to meet customer requirements and continue to cost-effectively alter our tools as customer R&D and production needs change. Since our initial deployment, our team has successfully tuned our process module which involved expanding our PLC-based chamber control and experimenting with our recipe logic,” said Arjen Janssens, CEO and Co-Founder of SolMateS. “PTO is a true SDK solution.”
Increasing your equipment control flexibility
In the past, adapting the equipment’s control system could be engineering-intensive in three main areas: recipe sequencing, hardware changes, and visualization of information. PTO provides a platform that enables fast and easy implementation of hardware components, process control sequencing and data presentation.
In PLC-controlled equipment, recipe execution steps and sequencing are traditionally embedded within the PLC logic. In an R&D environment, it is essential that tools are deployed quickly, and that recipe steps and sequencing can be altered easily to support experimentation with new products and materials. Using PTO, granular recipe steps such as sending a command to the PLC to open a valve, and recipe step sequencing have been moved up into the automation software layer, simplifying PLC implementation and isolating it from recipe changes. PTO’s recipe manager is both intuitive and powerful, providing the easy creation of sequential, parallel and repeating recipe flows. As common recipe sequences are optimized, SolMateS can aggregate them into recipe blocks provided to customers, to rapidly develop and deploy complete recipes for fast, flexible process development in the future.
As chamber control evolves, new information needs to be presented on the tool user interface to give visibility into tool processing. With PTO’s tag access service, which integrates with tag-based communication protocols such as OPC and Modbus, SolMateS can easily configure the PiezoFlare’s PLC control and integration with visualization components to support rapid prototyping.
PTO’s extensive hardware driver library, including many of the industry’s most common vacuum, atmospheric and automation components, enables OEMs to rapidly test and deploy new hardware. PEER Tool Composer (PTC™), PTO’s tool designer, automatically keeps the tool’s control components (scheduling, device drivers, etc.) in sync with a common equipment data model that simplifies access to equipment information for data consumers such as SECS/GEM hosts, Equipment Data Acquisition (EDA) clients, analysis engines, and user interfaces. PTO gave SolMateS the tools to experiment with alternate hardware components and successfully configure them into their automation solution.
“With PTO, the PiezoFlare can easily adapt and evolve to meet changing market needs and research initiatives for advanced materials and packaging technologies,”said Arjen Janssens. “Using a single automation software solution for both our development and production tools, simplifies our engineering effort, giving us the flexibility we need for our development environment as well as the reliability, performance and stability we need for high-volume production.”
SolMateS is a global supplier of industrial deposition equipment based on laser deposition. It is a revolutionary deposition technology which has been under development since 2007. This resulted in the PiezoFlare-1200 a system with which a new class of materials can be deposited such as the piezoelectric material Pb (zr, Ti) O3, Ionic conductors, Magnetic materials or Transparent Conductive Oxides. SolMateS’ research department has created unique intellectual property in the field of pulsed-laser deposition and has built high expertise on piezo thin layers, its processing and its applications. For more information about SolMateS, please visit https://solmates.nl.