Swagelok hoses can handle the heat; Suitable for use with dielectric media
by Michael deBack, on 7/11/12 6:00 AM
Small and flexible, Swagelok® hoses are easier to configure when space is tight
See Swagelok hoses suitable for use with dielectric media at Semicon West, July 10 through 12 at San Francisco’s Moscone Center booth 1431.
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As semiconductor designs have improved and become more challenging to manufacture, the tool manufacturers have needed to develop new tools to turn these challenging new semiconductors into reality. That often calls for new materials for even the equipment not directly involved in the process.
Take hoses connecting the heat exchangers/chillers to the chamber, for example. Swagelok’s line of hoses that are suitable for use with dielectric media represents a big advance for semiconductor tool manufacturers. To understand why, it helps to look back a few years.
When things run hot
When tool manufacturers used a water-glycol mix to heat or cool their tools, a plain old rubber hose could deliver good results. It’s basically the same system that has been used to cool car engines since Henry Ford was making the Model T. More recently, however, fabs have needed to run their tools hotter and they needed more exotic media. Water and glycol couldn’t handle the job anymore, and fabs have switched to dielectric materials to keep the tools at these new temperature extremes.
That’s bad news for a rubber hose. First, dielectric materials are caustic to standard rubber. The core starts to break down after a while. Binders in the hose material are extracted into the new media, clogging up the filters. Naturally, that means more down time for cleaning.
Initial answers don't cut it
PTFE hoses proved to be a great substitute as far as durability is concerned. A PTFE core with stainless steel over-braid makes a great hose for dielectrics. That is, until you have to pick one up. Internal temperatures can run to 200 or even 230 degrees centigrade. A PTFE inner core and a stainless steel over-braid won’t properly insulate at these temperatures. That makes it a struggle to maintain a consistent temperature and there can be a personnel safety issue with the outside temperature.
The quick answer was some form of foam insulation. Put a thick layer of the right kind of foam insulation around the hose, and the hose stays cool enough to handle. But now you have a new problem. What started out as a nice, slim, half-inch hose has suddenly turned into a monster with a four-inch diameter. Flexibility also suffered, which is the last thing a fab wants to hear when it has to snake 75 feet of line through a subfloor, around sensitive equipment and into a clean room. And with certain types of foam, you get flaking on the outside. That’s bad news anywhere near a clean room.
Swagelok decided to conduct its own research and development to come up with materials that would maintain a consistent temperature along the length of the hose, keep the hose slim, and still cool enough to handle. Instead of using thick foam to cover the PTFE and stainless steel, Swagelok designed a variety of hoses with unique insulation and covers. As a bonus, the covers can be color coded: red for the hot supply line, blue for the cold return.
We have the test results that prove the performance, and we’d be glad to share it. You’ll have a good chance to see Swagelok’s hoses that are suitable for use with dielectric media at Semicon West, July 10 through 12 at San Francisco’s Moscone Center booth 1431. We’d be happy to talk about any application where Swagelok components can increase performance.
About Michael deBack, Senior Account Manager – Semiconductor, Swagelok Northern California
Michael deBack has over 25 years experience helping Semiconductor OEMs solve their fluid system challenges. Contact our team at firstname.lastname@example.org or 510-933-6200.