While certain industries have suffered during the recession, the consumer electronic supply chain with its cleanroom requirements is growing — and cleanroom robotics will play a key part in this growth. So how do cleanroom robots differ from their standard counterparts? Much of the hardware is the same, with the exception of a combination of sealed covers to prevent particles from escaping, stainless steel hardware, non-gassing lubricants, and vacuum to evacuate any internally generated particles. In addition, materials prone to particle generation are substituted or coated to prevent contamination of the manufacturing area. Cleanroom robots can be linear, SCARA, six-axis, or delta types, but they must meet strict cleanroom certifications.

Here are a few questions to consider when looking for a cleanroom robot: What is the required cycle time? What are the work envelope requirements? What is the tolerance stack-up for the process and repeatability requirement? Consider cell geometry: Depending on cell design and robot style, a lower class robot may be able to get the job done more economically than other options. For example, when handling a semiconductor wafer, a robot that can operate under the wafer with a vertical laminar flow of clean air will sweep particles away from the product, so requirements for the robot may be less stringent. For more information, visit www.adept.com or www.chadindustries.net.