The new TPS GAP Tool vertical inline oven for high output (UPH) semiconductor production provides clear advantages over traditional hori-zontal or batch ovens.

The movement in the semiconductor manufacturing industry is for more units per hour (UPH). At the same time, OEMs, integrators and marketers are demanding constant improvement in quality, miniaturization, delivery and price. The continuing and ever increasing chal-lenge for the semiconductor industry is keeping up with the ability to manufacture new products and to satisfy the demands of custom-ers.

Semiconductor engineers constantly need to update which new devices will be in production and what kind of parts be-longing to those devices will need to be tested in order to maintain strict levels of quality. The tight tolerances in this industry make this task even more challenging.

In a world where products seem to become obsolete within weeks of their release, engineers have to stay one step-or more-ahead of the game. Estimating the total cost of ownership, including initial product price, upkeep and manpower, isn’t easy when the world is constantly advancing. The key for every product developer is to come up with a product that has industry-standard parts, is easy to maintain and operate and is able to produce a higher output with low cost.

New vertical inline ovens are a recent innovation in the semiconductor manufacturing market. TPS’ Gap Tool ovens improve on the traditional hori-zontal and batch ovens used in previous manufacturing systems.

Here’s how this semiconductor oven is smaller, faster, cheaper and better than horizontal batch ovens.



Time to market can be the difference between success and failure in this industry. The Gap Tool inline oven is faster because it is continuously running to allow a 2,000-3,000 UPH output. There is no more of the “load…run…cooldown…unload” process required by batch ovens. With an inert gas purge at each of the seven heating zones plus an independent cooling zone, more control over the entire process results.


Because the technology that powers consumer and industrial products continually changes, manufacturing methods must also change. The vertical inline oven is able to solve this problem because it fits into your current work flow and is designed for future technologies. This oven uses industry-standard product carriers and is designed to produce parts using next-generation materials that can converge with traditional semiconductor and PCB technology.

......Modern touch-screen controls minimize the costs as-sociated with training, job setup and programming. Web-based support is also offered, which enables the manufacturer’s service technicians to keep ovens running remotely. The forward-looking design allows the Gap Tool oven to be part of your work flow far into the future even as your manufacturing requirements change.

Better Products

There are several reasons why vertical inline ovens produce better products than existing batch ovens. The most immediate advantage for every manufacturing facility is the automated load/unload mechanism that uses pick-and-place robotic and dual-lane unloading to eliminate the need for human intervention and risk of damaging products during the process. Other reasons include the walking beam lifting mecha-nisms that move units through the process with less chance of damaging high-value components. The Gap Tool also can produce parts using flexible, lead-free materials that are environmentally safe and fire resistant.

Vertical Inline Oven Details

The Gap Tool was designed with a 0.5-inch pitch to accommodate most industry-standard product carriers. This pitch height allows for maximum utilization of the interior oven space.

Rugged-toothed walking beams are machined to the tightest industry toler-ances. These beams move the product carriers through the first four oven zones. At zone four, a transfer sled mechanism transports the product carrier to zone five, where the walking beams lower the product carriers down through the remaining zones.

The unloader and loader units use a pick-and-place method. The product will enter the loading unit via a SMEMA conveyor, where a prox-imity sensor confirms the tray’s correct alignment position. The “gripper” assembly loads the new product carriers into the tray that sits on a “z” platform. Proximity sensors alert the PLC that the tray is ready to unload. The same process holds true for the unloader. The gripper assembly removes the tray from the product carriers and places them on the exit SMEMA belt. The product is then released to the downstream equipment when the appropriate SMEMA handshake is completed. Future upgrades for the TPS unit include a dual-lane unloader that will help speed up the unload process.

The heating modules are comprised of 3 kW and 6 kW forced-air heating capacity. All modules can be removed easily for replacement or repair. The zones are independently controlled via thermocou-ples by the PLC.

The cooling zone is a water coil with forced air. The water is controlled by a solenoid valve and can facilitate tower or chilled water. All modules have the capacity of inert gas purge. Flow meters are installed on the oven for precise flow control.

The Gap Tool will incorporate the S7-300 Siemens PLC. This PLC utilizes a 12-inch color operator-interface panel (O.I.P.) mounted on an ergonomic flex arm, thus eliminating the standard PLC configuration and reliance on Windows®-based operating sys-tems. This power PLC allows for individual customer flexibility for process programming. The manufacturer will tailor screen layouts specifically for each customer’s application. With Ethernet communication capabilities, it offers an affordable solution to SECS GEM implementation.

An addition to the Siemens S7-300 PLC package is a maintenance pendant. This tool is a handheld color interface device that allows a user or technician to energize specific components on the oven for troubleshooting or alignment inspec-tion. This interface device uses profibus communication to interface with the PLC. As is the case for the O.I.P. mentioned above, this item allows the manufacturer to tailor individual customer screens to satisfy any need.

The GAP Tool’s design incorporates molded composite panels. This gives the oven smooth, rounded lines and a modern, clean look that will enhance any production facil-ity. The covers attach to the oven frame with quick fasteners that allow the panels to be removed easily for maintenance or trouble-shooting. IH

For more information about the GAP Tool vertical inline oven, contact TPS:
Erin Wall, Marketing Communications Specialist, TPS Thermal Product Solutions, 2821 Old Rte. 15, New Columbia, Pa. 17856; tel: 570-538-7200 ext. 227; fax 570-538-7381;;

Additional related information may be found by searching for these (and other) key words/terms via BNP Media SEARCH inline oven, walking beam, inert gas purge, semiconductor