Whether it’s for the semiconductor industry, aerospace engineering or for scientific research purposes, high vacuum chamber technology is central to many of the key operations that take place.
Securing the most advanced and reliable vacuum chamber equipment requires significant investment in time and costs, so you need to be sure that your contract manufacturer (CM) ticks some important boxes before you start working with them.
Here are some key questions and considerations you can ask when searching for a trustworthy vacuum chamber contract manufacturer.
What manufacturing facilities does the CM have?
It is important to investigate the facilities that the manufacturer has. These need to be in both design and manufacturing of vacuum chambers.
Cleanroom ready environments are vital, particularly when manufacturing for semiconductor customers. Dedicated testing zones for leak testing and inspection are also crucial.
Typically, when all a CM’s services and project teams are under one roof, you can expect faster turnaround times, along with timely and efficient communications. It is worth asking if they conduct site visits (virtual or in person). A customer tour of the facilities will be useful in understanding the CM's manufacturing capabilities.
Proven chamber product quality
There are several ways that the CM will be able to prove the quality of their vacuum chambers. Be sure to check the following for reassurance that your chamber will be manufactured to the highest possible standard, whilst conforming to the specifications defined in the design phase:
- In house cleaning capabilities to UHV standards
- Proof of cleanliness through RGA scans.
- Proof of leak tightness through quality helium leak checking.
- Proof of geometry with faro arm inspection, or similar co-ordinate measuring machines
- Are they accredited to high quality standards for example the ISO9001 accreditation.
- Repeat business can convey a good level of customer satisfaction – do they have a high percentage of repeat customer business?
How much experience does the CM have in manufacturing vacuum chambers?
In the field of vacuum techology, it is imperative that CMs have all the necessary mechanical and,electrical skills required to produce quality products. For this reason, a good understanding of the CM’s chamber manufacturing track record is vital.
A longer trading history with some familiar customer brand names typically means that the contract manufacturer has in depth knowledge and a wealth of experience. Both these things are extremely important when it comes to designing and making essential equipment like vacuum chambers.
Check the size and quality of the CM’s manufacturing machines and equipment
When sourcing your new manufacturing partner, you want to be sure they use high quality and well-maintained machinery and equipment given this is a fundamental aspect of delivering a high-quality vacuum chamber.
From a quality perspective, it is always good to find out if the CM has regular service and maintenance routines in place to ensure their machines are working optimally. Another important consideration with CM’s equipment is how suitable it is for a range of manufacturing requirements. Can the supplier’s machines cater for large and intricate requirements that you may need as part of your chamber project for example?
Does the chamber manufacturer have proven successful supply chain management?
Successful supply chain management (SCM) is arguably more important now than it has ever been, following the upheaval and disruption that many companies around the world experienced during the pandemic.
Fulfilment of orders – UK & worldwide
When it comes to delivering your completed chamber product, faro arm inspection is key. Why? Because it provides a measured inspection point at which the product is deemed tested and ready to ship. The final inspection report gives customer the confidence they need to start their system build.
Access to project plans provide transparency throughout the build, ensuing that you as the customer are fully aware of the chamber project’s status and have a solid understanding of when delivery is likely to be.
You may want to check that the CM has their own in-house logistics team who can reliably manage all aspects of fulfilment. Experience of global export as well as local supply means they will be equipped to deal with international customers.
In fields such as semiconductor equipment manufacturing, being able to offer services such as Copy Exactly! and Build to Print gives the customer a level of reassurance that scalable production is possible and delivery will be to exact specifications.
What are their custom vacuum chamber design capabilities?
The vacuum chamber is an important tool in a variety of settings, from scientific laboratories to manufacturing facilities. To function properly, vacuum chambers must be designed with skill, precision, and care. Check that your CM has the following design capabilities:
- DFM (design for manufacture process) ensuring that designs are manufacturable at a cost-effective price.
- CAD expertise to produce 2D CAD drawings and STP modelling for 3D images.
- Different material capabilities – stainless steel, aluminium, Mu metal (nickel iron alloy for magnetic screening)
- Vacuum stress calculations need to be accurate, so understanding vacuum loads and factoring these in at the design stage is critical.
Do they have a Quality Management System and certifications?
A certified ISO 9001 Quality Management System demonstrates that the contract manufacturer is committed to the excellence and constant improvement necessary to undertake the most rigorous and challenging vacuum technology and leak detection projects you may require. Certifications such as Coded Welder show that welders have undertaken a Welding Approval Test and that they are qualified against a particular welding code.
Coded welding testing to an international coding standard that applies to a range of welding practices including pressure vessels and the nuclear industry.
Although there is no centrally recognised certification for Copy Exactly! manufacturing, CM’s can show that they are able to build chamber projects to the exact specifications set out by you as the customer.
VACGEN Chamber Manufacturing
If you are searching for an ISO 9001 certified and reliable chamber manufacturing partner for your vacuum chamber project, VACGEN are the ideal partner to support you. We have over 50 years’ experience in the design and manufacture of vacuum chambers for various industries, including: semiconductor, research, aerospace & defence, medical and energy.
We are committed to providing excellent customer service and we are always willing to answer any questions that our customers or potential customers may have.