JST Manufacturing, Inc.

219 E 50th St
Boise,  ID  83714-1429

United States
  • Booth: 1851

Visit booth 6444 and let JST show you our newest tools!

JST Manufacturing offers a full array of Wet Process Equipment from factory integrated, fully automated Stations with wafer transfer to Laboratory Wet Stations. Dry to Dry Stations are offered which include one of our proprietary Dryer options.  Support Tools are also included for Chemical Mixing, Neutralization, Bulk Filling and Handling Equipment for turn key operations.

JST works with our customers before and after the sale to ensure complete customer satisfaction. Experienced Service Technicians are available worldwide, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.

For over thirty-five years we've listened to our customers and responded with cost effective, quality products that not only provide reliable processing of your products but also safe chemical handling of fresh as well as spent chemistries. Let the knowledgeable staff at JST help you to configure your next Station to be JST right for you!

 Press Releases

  • Cleaning, an integral part of many manufacturing and maintenance processes, is often critical to the performance of a broad range of technologies in the semiconductor, defense, MEMS, photonics and biotech industries.

    “Cleaning,” in this case, refers to the use of agents such as solvents, acids or bases to remove unwanted particulates and other contaminates from products ranging from optics to semiconductor and electronic devices.

    It also refers to the etching process utilized in semiconductor fabrication, where the “cleaning” is the precision removal of thin layers of material.

    Today, many of these processes are relatively standardized.  Semiconductor wafers, for example, are produced in several sizes and processed the same way, no matter the type.

    However, for products with non-standard geometries, shapes, sizes and even weight, cleaning takes on a new dimension: figuring out how to optimally get each item in and out of the equipment at each stage of processing.

    Within this category are a potpourri of items such as optical lenses for the world’s largest telescopes and high-energy lasers, the crystals used in nuclear sensors or guidance systems, glass substrates, MEMs devices, probe sensors, medical implants, chemically machined subcomponents, etc.

    With these types of items, creative solutions must be employed to load items in and out of what is typically a multi-stage process.  This can include utilizing automated gantry robots, machined fixtures and loading carts. 

    Careful consideration must also be given to the orientation and, potentially, the rotation of the item after it enters the process baths.

    “We are not just concerned with the cleaning equipment, but also how to get the products in and out of that tool,” says Louise Bertagnolli, president of JST Manufacturing (Boise, ID), a specialist in wet processing and precision cleaning equipment.

    “The handling of non-standard items of various geometries, sizes and weights is a factor that most customers don’t think about,” adds Bertagnolli.  “Instead, they focus almost solely on the cleaning process – the temperatures and chemical concentrations.  Yet, how product handling can impact the amount of chemicals required, processing time and even quality of cleaning.”

    Lifting, Transporting with Gantry Robots

    Companies that choose to automate a cleaning process usually do so to ensure the repeatability of cleaning results. This means precisely controlling the measurement and dispensing of the cleaning agents and rinsing solutions. It also means providing the systems and tools necessary to transport the items from one bath to another. 

    For this, robots are often used to lift and transport items to multiple stations or modules. 

    At companies like JST, this necessitates working closely with automation partners such as Bosch Rexroth (Charlotte, NC) to develop cleaning stations using linear motion and electric drive and control technology.

    In a recent project the two firms worked together to create an automated system for cleaning silicon chunks to the extreme purity of 11N to meet requirements for the manufacture of semiconductor chips. The project entailed building a cleaning line 138 ft. in length and incorporating multiple gantry robots.

    The throughput volume requirement for the chunks was four tons for every 22-hour shift.  To accomplish this, JST had to develop a unique basket system to transport the material throughout the process.

    To provide for such a long cleaning system, JST engineered and built it in two units.  In the 24-ft-long unit, baskets of chunks are manually loaded through an auto-door.  Then two-axis robots cycle the baskets through five acid etch baths and two rinse baths arranged in a single row down the length of the second unit.

    In some cases, gantry robots are the only solution, particularly for heavy items that may be too much for workers to handle safely.  Bertagnolli has seen products that must be lifted that exceed 50, even 100 lbs.

    In a project for Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories’ National Ignition Facility (NIF), JST was charged with figuring out a solution for handling thousands of heavy optical lenses.

    NIF operates one of the world’s highest-energy laser systems, which consists of 192 laser beams that can focus nearly two million joules of energy.  Each of the 192 beams is supported by up to 50 lenses. 

    “If these lenses were not as clean as possible then we would start to degrade the performance of our laser,” explains Patrick Williams, NIF optics maintenance manager.

    “The optics are heavy and rather large, so we don’t want to handle them a lot,” adds Williams. “JST suggested that there might be an easier and more cost-effective way to transport, clean and inspect the optics.  They came back with an original design, and then we tweaked it into a system that has worked for over 16 years.”

  • Cleaning, an integral part of many manufacturing and maintenance processes is often critical to the performance of a broad range of technologies in the semiconductor, defense, MEMS, photonics and biotech industries.

    In this case, “cleaning” refers to the use of agents such as solvents, acids or bases to remove unwanted particulates and other contaminates from products ranging from optics to semiconductor and electronic devices.

    It also refers to the etching process utilized in semiconductor fabrication, where the “cleaning” is the precision removal of thin layers of material.

    In both cases, the “wet process” cleaning involved usually incorporates the chemical cleaning agents, an appropriate rinse bath, and a method of drying the material.

    However, while attention is typically focused on the chemicals used, along with time, temperature and agitation, matching precision drying to the cleaning process and even customizing it is an essential element that must be considered.  In this effort, partnering with an expert can help to fine tune certain critical variables such as level of cleanliness and drying speed as well as any required adjustment for product geometry.

    “You can wash to clean or etch, but rinsing the entire chemical off and then drying is just as critical as the wash itself,” says Louise Bertagnolli, president of JST Manufacturing (Boise, ID), a specialist in wet processing and precision cleaning equipment.

    Selecting a Drying Process

    There are many types of drying that can be incorporated into the cleaning process depending on the goal, according to Bertagnolli.   

    “Consideration must be given to the key factors in the drying process,” says Bertagnolli.  “This can be final cleanliness of the surface with low residual particle counts, drying time, or a combination of both.  The drying should be geared to do the most effective job based on your criteria.”

    While convection drying, N2 blowoff, and HEPA drying are sufficient for many applications, they may not be the best choice for those where low particle counts are important.

    With convection drying, the drying chamber is heated to evaporate the water off the product, and hot, filtered nitrogen or clean dry air can assist the drying.  While low cost, this can leave behind residue and water spots as the water evaporates.  Depending on the volume of water, this can take a long time.  The process is not suitable when a clean dry is required or when products are temperature sensitive.

    In an N2 blowoff dryer approach, nitrogen is blown into the drying chamber through high pressure air knives.  The moisture is blown off the product and down into the plenum where it is evacuated in the exhaust stream.  Although the process is initially lower in cost, it uses a lot of nitrogen, may not totally dry product, and does not work with geometries that retain moisture when removed, including those with blind holes.

    With a HEPA filtered blowoff dryer, hot clean air is blown through a HEPA filter and into the drying chamber where it evaporates the moisture.  Once again, though the operational cost is low, it may not totally dry product, and does not work well with moisture retaining geometries.

    To leave the least amount of particles, such as for silicon wafers, glass substrates, disc drives, or optics, Bertagnolli recommends either a Surface Tension Gradient (STG) Dryer or a closed loop isopropyl alcohol (IPA) vapor vacuum dryer.

    Utilizing a STG dryer, the chamber is filled with water and then IPA vapor is slowly introduced into the chamber as the water is removed, replacing the water with IPA.  The IPA is then evaporated.  The process has several advantages.  There is no water spotting and no moving parts to generate particles.  It uses relatively little IPA and is environmentally friendly with low IPA emissions.  The process, however, dissolves IPA in the water and drains it out.  It also uses a large amount of deionized water for rinsing.

    With a closed loop IPA vapor vacuum dryer like JST’s CLV model, ultra clean vapor is generated and then introduced into a sealed drying chamber.  The closed loop system allows fresh IPA vapor to rinse the surface to be dried, penetrating the surface areas and absorbing the moisture.  A low pressure vacuum pulls any remaining moisture from the sealed chamber and away from the product being dried. 

    This process has a number of advantages.  It offers the cleanest dry with no moving parts to generate particles.  It dries blind holes and eliminates water spotting.  It is also environmentally friendly with low IPA emissions.

    Product Geometry and Features

    Along with selecting a drying process, it is important to look at the geometry and features of the product being dried to optimize the entire procedure.  The handling of non-standard items of various geometries, sizes and weights is a factor that most customers do not think about, says Bertagnolli. 

    “If you lift a product out of a chemical bath, it will carry some moisture with it,” she says.  “If flat, it will carry more than a sphere, so its geometry and how it is removed will dictate how the equipment should be optimized.”

    In these instances, the geometry of the product requires vacuum drying or oven drying.  This is also the case with items that have blind holes, which are drilled, bored, or cast to a specific depth.

    “When a product with many holes is soaked in a chemical bath, those holes can retain a lot of chemical so you might want to rotate it to dump out the chemical and/or rinse water  before drying it,” says Bertagnolli. 

    In another example, round shapes – such as silicone rods that are cleaned using wet processing – clean more easily than flat shapes, which are more prone to hold moisture when removed.

    Paying attention to the carrier rack or fixture for the parts is also important to ensure no excess water is retained, according to Bertagnolli.

    “It doesn’t do any good to dry the part thoroughly if you leave the carrier or rack wet,” she says.  “So consider how both the product’s features and the rack affect the drying process.”

    Even the rack’s construction is important because materials like Teflon are porous and hold moisture.

    “For the rack, it is better to use a non-porous  construction because it quickly releases water,” says Bertagnolli.

    While cleaning involving temperatures and chemical concentrations is often the main concern of process industry professionals and research labs, considering how drying can be enhanced will significantly improve the entire process.

  • Silicon and compound semiconductor wafers undergo many critical procedures during the microfabrication process, including the recurring stripping of photoresist, the light-sensitive material (liquid or film) that is deposited during various steps of wafer production. Reexamining the wet process of stripping of thick photoresist, which occurs at the back-end of wafer processing, can significantly reduce the amount of chemicals required, as well as related disposal costs.

    Photoresist materials are designed to mask, or “resist,” the UV light to accomplish back-end-of-line tasks such as the etching and electroplating of circuits and copper pillars used as bonding pads for wafer packaging.

    In recent years, wafer foundries as well as semiconductor and compound semiconductor manufacturers have begun to incorporate copper pillars into their fabrication processes. The advantages of copper over solder have become increasingly important, including the use of higher pin counts and interconnect densities; copper also offers higher reliability and improved electrical and thermal performance.

    It is noteworthy that back-end processes require the use of solvents while   front-end-of-line processes, typically employ acids such as sulfuric acid and peroxide. These   would attack surfaces such as copper pillars in a destructive manner. Also, back-end processes use much thicker photoresist materials and because the solvents used for back-end stripping are less aggressive, chunks of un-dissolved resist residue often accumulate in the bath. These chunks can block bath circulation and filtration, shortening bath life and increasing solvent chemistry consumption substantially.

    Evaluating wet processing challenges

    After recently deciding to adopt copper pillars for the wafers it produces in-house, a wafer manufacturer unexpectedly ran into some production obstacles. Two situations caused the manufacturer to rethink the process by which it stripped the “thick” resist from its wafers during the copper pillar attachment process. Both situations were connected directly to the chemical bath tool that was integral to the stripping process.

    “Our customer, an amplifier manufacturer, was dealing with a 50-100 micron thick resist film on its wafers, about 15 times thicker than resist used on front-end processes,” explains Ryan Zrno chief  technical  officer  of JST Manufacturing (Boise ID), a specialist in wet processing equipment for the MEMS, nano, photovoltaic, wafer and related industries. “Using the traditional solvent chemistry was leaving large amounts of chunky resist residue in the bath, which was interfering with both circulation and filtration. This was causing increased bath changes resulting in production delays and excessive use of expensive chemical solvents.”

    Zrno adds that the customer also wanted to find an alternative to the TMAH (Tetramethylammonium hydroxide) -based solvent that had been used in the past. Although not used in toxic amounts, this solvent had an offensive odor and was not the most effective chemical for resist stripping around wafer with copper pillars.

    To evaluate the problems and propose optimum solutions, Zrno invited the customer to visit JST’s applications lab and run some tests with the engineering staff. The company also coordinated a series of tests with appropriate solvents made to order from Diamalloy, the customer’s chemical supplier.

    Building an optimum solution

    “We ran a set of three different kinds of tests, each in our standard down flow bath tool,” Zrno says. “Each time we would learn something valuable about possible solutions. It was a three-way development team composed of the customer’s staff, the chemical company, and our engineers.”

    After a few weeks of testing the proposed solution was a new wet processing tool that did not leave large deposits of solubilized resist in the bath. Instead, a new chemistry was recommended along with a series of screens that were incorporated into quick-dump exchanges.

    This meant that the bath solvent chemistry was circulated in such a manner that it flowed over the screens, removing any large clusters of resist before they could become totally solubilized and prematurely deplete the effectiveness of the bath solvent. Removal of resist clusters also meant that they were no longer a threat to bath filtration or circulation.

    The next step was we built a test module, which included a bath with a single series of screens, a reservoir, basic control system, and a pump.

    “Once completed the customer came back out and we did testing again,” Zrno  says. “After successful testing of the module, JST designed and built a fully-automated production tool featuring a 6-gallon bath and 20-gallon reservoir. We also added other proprietary components that enabled the tool to meet the customer’s production requirements.”

    The customer ordered two of the new production tools in order to run parallel processes and meet throughput requirements.

    A combination of savings

    As anticipated, this new, automated resist-stripping tool saved on chemical usage, and the series of screens prevented the recirculating bath chemistry from plugging up the filters.

    Chemical usage dropped by two-thirds at the customer’s resists stripping stations, mainly due to the increased bath life. Also significant were the savings on downtime requirements for changing of baths, which normally took 30 to 60 minutes. Those were also reduced by two-thirds, as was the associated downtime to drain and recharge bath solutions.

    The cost of disposing of the spent chemistry is also considerable, although it varies according to location. For example, a leading waste management company advertises pickup and disposal of toxic chemical substances for $1.49 per pound for complete service. A 55-gallon barrel of water-based liquid weight approximately 460 lbs. Based on $1.49 per pound, the cost of having a waste specialist dispose of that liquid would cost roughly $685. Reducing that cost by two-thirds via a system like the wet processing tool described above would amount to a savings of $456 per barrel.

    Other savings can be achieved as well. For example, the new resist stripping station includes a menu of built-in settings, which were tested and installed at the JST factory lab. This menu makes it unnecessary for users to go to another facility to establish new settings, a process that could increase production downtime by up to several days.

    According to Zrno, it usually makes a lot of sense to periodically review your production systems such as wet processing equipment, particularly when production procedures change. In many cases making minor modifications to existing equipment, whether standard or custom, can save companies significant money over time.

    For information contact: JST Manufacturing Inc., 219 E. 50th S., Boise, ID  83714; Phone: 800-872-0391, 208-377-1120; Fax: 208-377-3645; E-mail: info@jstmfg.com; or visit the web site jstmfg.com


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