Original Date: 01/23/1995
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : Agile Manufacturing Facility for Integrated Circuits
Sandia National Laboratories’ (SNL’s) Microelectronics Development Laboratory provides a model of agility, reconfigurability, and robustness in its IC fabrication cleanroom facility. Modern integrated-circuit fabrication facilities arrange clean rooms around the work flow for a particular technology. These clean rooms have to be reconfigured to accommodate newer technologies. Of greater concern, once one part of the clean room becomes contaminated, the entire facility becomes non-functional, leading to lost work-in-process and costly downtime, and clean room operators are averse to risking productivity improvements through new equipment or processes.
The SNL maintains a 33,000 square foot, Class 1 clean room configured into 22 independent air supplied bays. Each bay is isolated from the rest of the facility, allowing the development of highly speculative, potentially contaminating technologies. This arrangement also allows for concurrent prototyping and small lot quantity manufacture of ICs of differing technologies. Experience has shown that bays can be recovered from contamination within hours after exposure.
This agile prototyping capability allows the Sandia Microelectronics Development Laboratory to investigate promising research done by universities, government, and industry and transform the research and development breakthroughs into practical products that will have useful impacts. SNL evaluates this research and development effort against need, impact, cost, and risk and determines if it is a viable venture to undertake. If the venture seems workable, a team of personnel is assembled to undertake the project. The goals and priorities are clearly communicated to the team members. Manufacturing processes are developed and metrics established to track the daily progress of the project.
With the facilities, equipment, and personnel available at the Microelectronics Development Laboratory, SNL can rapidly transform leading-edge research into practical prototypes and products. The facility focuses on the development of complex "systems-on-a-chip" through integration of microelectronics, micromechanics, and sensor technologies. This facility has well-defined manufacturing practices which ensure rapid and effective prototype development.
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