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Weber Knapp

Case Study: Vacuum Chamber Requires Safety Upgrade

Applied Materials is a global leader in materials engineering equipment for the semiconductor, flat panel display, and solar photovoltaic (PV) industries. When it was determined that one of their sophisticated vacuum chamber products required a safer and more reliable lid counterbalancing method, project engineer Larry Frazier remembered the quality Vectis counterbalance hinges developed by Weber Knapp had previously provided for other Applied Materials products and gave us a call.

This vacuum chamber had originally incorporated a side mounted gas spring to reduce the force required to lift the heavy lid and the vacuum chamber was already in early production. Because of this, our Vectis design team faced the daunting task of retrofitting a new and more robust spring counterbalance system incorporating a precise hinge bearing system in and on the existing machine components.

Through virtual meetings and CAD file sharing with Larry and others at Applied Materials, our Vectis design team hurried to perfect this demanding design. Upon final design approval, we quickly provided production quality prototypes for testing and evaluation. The following quote is an excerpt and picture from Larry Frazier’s email sent shortly after these prototypes were received and installed at Applied Materials:

“Both prototypes are installed and working on chambers. They work great.”
– Larry Frazier, SSG, MDP Engineering, Applied Materials, 10/21/2009

Tooling and full production followed. Today Weber Knapp still supplies this specially packaged Vectis counterbalanced hinge in sustained quantities to an Applied Materials subcontractor in Korea. From there the finished vacuum chambers are deployment to Class 1000 Cleanrooms throughout the world.