Adam J. Freyler, VP Sales & Marketing, Americas
Temperature and pressure are the most common aspects that are measured, controlled, and monitored in the semiconductor manufacturing space. In several critical processes and industrial/OEM applications, reliable monitoring and controlling of these variables is vital for predictive maintenance and enabling consistent performance of products. That’s why there is constant strife among original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to identify temperature and pressure instrumentation that can deliver performance, reliability, and safety under all conditions within the semiconductor manufacturing space.
Addressing this need is Ashcroft
, one of the pioneers of pressure and temperature instrument solutions for critical process
applications across the globe. The company offers innovative pressure and temperature instruments and product solutions for critical applications. It heavily invests in increasing the performance and repeatability of its pressure and temperature sensing devices to allow continuous functioning. “We manufacture pressure and temperature sensing devices to reliably measure the same parameter, the same way, under all real-world conditions,” states Adam J. Freyler, the VP Sales and Marketing, Americas, at Ashcroft. Ashcroft specializes in the development, engineering, manufacturing, testing, and calibration of measurement and control instruments, including pressure gauges, pressure sensors, pressure switches, thermometers, among others, to ensure accurate and safe operations. It manufactures pressure sensors specifically designed for clean space control, such as glove boxes and clean rooms to facilitate critical airflow. With extensive industry expertise and a skilled team of engineers and technicians, Ashcroft is at the forefront of delivering Custom Engineered Solutions
) that meet the specific demands of its industrial/OEM clients.
On the pressure transducer side, the company offers its ZT and ZX series of pressure transducers
, which are made to fit into high-density panel mounting. These are compatible with different processes and are tailor-designed for exposure to all process elements, including EMI, RFI, high shock and vibration, and high operating temperature differentials. The ZX11
product also includes global safety and hazardous location approvals. its newest inclusions in the transducer portfolio are the ZL91
Fluoropolymer pressure transducers, designed for ultrapure and de-ionized water applications. They are constructed with PTFE/PFA wetted parts that minimize metal ion elution.
It further helps reduce contamination and maintain the purity of the process fluid. The ZL92 features a secondary isolation diaphragm and vent that isolates the ceramic sensing element from corrosive gases and liquids.
The company also offers a range of different sized pressure gauges and dial sizes, as its HPT series
that are designed to indicate pressure, depending on the application. Its products are utilized on various tools for lithography, thin film deposition, wet benches, and in fabs. With a great emphasis on safety, Ashcroft designs all its products in compliance with several national and international standards, including ISO 9001, ATEX/IECx, CE, UL, FM, CSA, CRN, and SIL.
Apart from products, the company also prides itself in its exceptional support services around the daily operational needs of customers. It works with EPCs and corporate engineering firms
to help bring their projects to fruition. The company also has a world-class network of distributors and territory specialists for onsite support throughout the world. This dedicated support staff can help customers source the right products on time and help them with technical questions, product development, and customizations.
An instance of Ashcroft’s exemplary customer service was when it collaborated with a manufacturer of high purity gas delivery systems. In semiconductor applications
, many high purity gases are used in the various process steps involved in making microelectronic devices, including hydrogen. This gas plays a role in the semiconductor process as a carrier gas and is often used to scavenge trace levels of oxygen from within process chambers. Hydrogen itself poses a unique risk to its surroundings as it changes the properties of certain metals in a process known as embrittlement. Pressure transducers used in semiconductor applications utilize metal diaphragms, and compatibility with all process media, including hydrogen, is fundamental to the long-term reliability and repeatability of the transducer. This particular client experienced reports of drift of pressure transducers in the field. In response, the Ashcroft ZT and ZX11 utilize high purity 316L Stainless Steel diaphrams shown to minimize the influence that hydrogen may have on the critical properties of the device and its long-term repeatability.
Along with catering to several OEM clients, Ashcroft also engages with fabs to support them with products and specialized applications post-sale. In this regard, its parent company, Nagano Keiki Co. Ltd of Japan, has played a critical role in product development and the support of customers in any location. The company also has multiple clean rooms, and its manufacturing process is spread across three different locations. As a result, the company can scale up its capacity to demand spikes off 300% or more in just a few months while typically fulfilling orders within eight to 12 weeks. “We are a unique solution provider for semiconductor manufacturers as we utilize the same semiconductor processes and we have an acute understanding of critical process control in offering scalable products to customers,” adds Freyler.
With a longstanding legacy of over 165 years, Ashcroft undoubtedly stands out as one of the most renowned global leaders in pressure and temperature instrumentation. Currently, the entire company employs over 2000 people, operates in 15 countries, and delivers gauges, thermometers, switches, transducers, transmitters, instruments, and calibration equipment. With this array of products, Ashcroft aims at aligning them with the customers’ demands for reduced package sizes through miniaturization. “Looking at how the future is going to shape the semiconductor industry
, especially from an interconnection standpoint with process piping, minimizing surface area, and exposure, we are ultimately trying to improve the stability, reliability, and performance of our products,” concludes Freyler.