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Case Studies - Tool Design

Case Study - Mechanical Design of Precision Alignment Tools

The client, Eaton Corp., was scaling up a critical element of their ion implant tool (semiconductor equipment). The accelerator column had several dozen layers, each of which was required to be assembled and aligned within thousandths of an inch while maintaining ultra-high vacuum integrity. In order to accomplish this, Concurrent Design completely reassessed the assembly process. We determined that by assembling the instrument upside-down, we could satisfy the specification tolerances. The mechanical design process required that we establish “ground” using a fixture plate with multiple locating features to constrain select degrees of freedom. We addressed the tolerances associated with each degree of freedom and began building tooling to assemble each layer. The base fixture plate, parallel guide rods, centering cone tools and five axis alignment tool were all high precision mechanical tool designs. Each element in this suite of tool designs was engineered, designed and built. From the first assembly, the tolerances were satisfied and the ultra-high vacuum integrity was assured.

Tool design of base fixture plate with parallel guide rods and centering tools.
Precision mechanical tool design - five-axis alignment tool with self-biasing and locking features.
Precision alignment tool engaged during assembly and alignment process.

Case Study - Tool Design of Overhead Lifting Fixture

The client, nLine Corp., was developing semiconductor equipment for wafer inspection. The wafer stage was a Newport product with a granite base and air bearing axes and it weighed ~½ ton. The overhead lifting fixture was a custom mechanical design to lift the stage from the shipping crate and deliver it to the custom-designed machine base. An overhead crane would provide the lift. The overhead lifting tool would require a custom mechanical design to address the physical constraints surrounding the stage / machine base interface. As with any overhead lifting apparatus designed by Concurrent Design, the unit was engineered, designed, built and tested under appropriate loads prior to implementation. This lifting fixture was engineered to satisfy >5X safety factor, tested at >3X safety factor and implemented to lift a 1000 pound load. Additionally, alignment tools were developed to be used in conjunction with the lifting tool. These alignment tools served to very accurately align the wafer stage to the machine base.

Tool design of overhead lift fixture provides dual-axis adjustment for load balancing of unknown center of gravity.
Safety engineering testing of overhead lift fixture under safety factor load prior to implementation.
Implementation of overhead lifting fixture - placing Newport air bearing stage onto custom machine base. Additional alignment tools provided final alignment.

Case Study - Multi-Axis Assembly Tool Design

The client, Applied Materials, is a manufacturer of semiconductor equipment. Some equipment, including deposition process chambers, are very sophisticated, with many parts assembled on all sides of the chamber. Some of these elements are relatively fragile compared to the large, heavy process chamber. The challenge was to design and build a multi-axis assembly tool that would allow the assembly technician to address the work-piece from any angle, orientation or elevation. The tool design provides for such volume production features as quick part alignment, attachment and orientation to any attitude.

Mechanical design of assembly tool allows for quick and easy addressing of workpiece from any attitude or ergonomic elevation.
Multi-axis assembly tool provides non-marring interfaces to the work piece and features that lock the tool in any position during assembly.

Case Study - Tool Design for Manufacturing Routing Fixture

The client, Siemens, is a manufacturer of commercial products. Within the numerous manufacturing processes associated with traffic-light products, there is a machining requirement. The plastic hood of the traffic light is molded in plastic. Piece parts must be machined (using a manual router) to create the final curved shape of the product. The tool design of the routing fixture holds the work piece while the operator traces the contours with the manual router. Special attention is provided to clearance of part features and part location for repeatability.

Mechanical design of manufacturing routing tool assembly allows for quick location of workpiece (shown in place) and securing during routing process.
Routing fixture secures raw workpiece (seen at left) during machining operation to yield finished machined part (right).

For any project requiring tool design, mechanical design or mechanism design, Concurrent Design provides complete mechanical engineering design services, from concept, analysis, machine design / tool design, and prototype to documentation and build.

Concurrent Design's office is located in Austin, Texas. We support clients in Austin and Central Texas along with regional, national and international clients. On a daily basis, we work with clients from Boston to San Jose and from Dallas to Houston.

We provide CAD modeling services utilizing SolidWorks™ and Pro/ENGINEER™. (SolidWorks is a registered trademark of SolidWorks Corp., a Dassault Systèmes Company) (Pro/E, Pro/ENGINEER, Wildfire, Creo are registered trademarks of PTC, Parametric Technology Corp.).

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