Atlas Copco award for an innovative dry pump

This year the prestigious John Munck Award recognizes the development of an innovative dry pump. The pump is used in the semiconductor manufacturing process and improves service life and reliability.

The John Munck Award for technical innovations is this year presented to Paul Neller, Andy Mann, Phil North, Dave Manson, Brian Murphy, Allen Park and Jonathan Youn, who work in the Semiconductor division in Atlas Copco’s Vacuum Technique business area. They are presented the award for developing the iXM dry pump. The pump, used in the semiconductor manufacturing process, improves service life and reliability and is smaller, more silent and more energy efficient than its competitors.

“The team has developed a product with a high level of technology and innovation that will help our customers. They have shown such commitment and I am happy to present them the award,” said Mats Rahmström, Atlas Copco’s President and CEO.

The vacuum pump was developed in South Korea, where a large part of the world’s semiconductors is manufactured.

The John Munck Award, established in 1991, is presented each year to a product developer, designer or a team for outstanding contributions to the overall quality of an Atlas Copco product.

The award will be presented to the winners at the Annual General Meeting on April 24, 2018.


iXM background

In October 2014 Edwards introduced the first phase of its iXM range, which is proving to be a success for its innovative features. The top-quality pump, with patented technology and design, was quickly embraced by two of Edwards’ key customers – Samsung, which is using the pumps to make semiconductors for its smartphones and other electronic equipment, and SK Hynix, one of the world’s largest memory chip producers. Both manufacturers now use the iXM1200 and iXM1800 dry pumps in their newest Korean factories.

While the main purpose of the iXM is for semiconductor manufacturing, it also has potential to be of use for manufacturing of flat panel displays and solar panels.

Vacuum dry pumps are instrumental in the semiconductor manufacturing process. In the semiconductor production, gases are put into a chamber to react and form a film on the surface of a silicon wafer. The function of the pump is to provide reliable low pressure in the chamber to facilitate the forming of that film. The pumps are hard workers, and the stakes are high.

The iXM offers customers many benefits. Its low energy consumption is best in class, and it is also top notch when it comes to corrosion resistance. A common byproduct of the manufacturing process is flourine gas, which is highly corrosive and can reduce the pump’s lifetime. The iXM has been designed to tackle flourine corrosion. This has doubled the pump’s lifetime; it can now work 24/7 for at least three years before requiring service. Another way the iXM helps customers is its small physical footprint. Semiconductor factories cost billions of dollars to build, so the customers are keen on minimizing the equipment size. A typical factory can have hundreds of dry pumps installed, so size matters.

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