Vacuum manipulators are used to move or position wafer or items in specialized vacuum chambers and for material handling applications. They provide increased flexibility because rigid links are not used. Some vacuum manipulators include mounting devices or end-effectors. Others include load locks and wobble sticks. Often, vacuum manipulators are used in conjunction with vacuum chambers. Wafer handlers or robots are an automated type of vacuum manipulators for moving wafers or substrates into or out of a PVD, CVD, plasma etching or other vacuum processing chambers. To create a vacuum chamber, a vacuum motor or in-vacuum motor physically pumps the air from the vessel until the desired sub-atmospheric pressure is achieved. If the vacuum chamber contains an ultra-high vacuum, then an ultra-high vacuum manipulator and ultra-high vacuum motor must be used.
Vacuum manipulators include vacuum lifters, material handling equipment used to move bags, boxes, cartons, drums, kegs, and sheet materials. A vacuum lifter is a transporter made of stainless steel. It can include standard or custom tooling. Food and pharmaceutical grade equipment meets specific quality standards and regulatory requirements. Heavy-duty vacuum manipulators are suitable for warehouse or production floor environments. Specialized vacuum tilting and vacuum lifting equipment can be used in hazardous locations or areas with low headroom. The proper selection of a vacuum motor or in-vacuum motor is another important consideration.
Vacuum manipulators differ in terms of pump, control, filter, crane and motor options. Vacuum pumps can use direct drives or belt drives. Venturi pumps are designed for low-flow vacuum applications. Pump controls feature flexible or pistol-style grips and spring-loaded levers. Filters for vacuum manipulators include needle-point cloth liners or high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration. Crane options include jib cranes, articulating jib cranes, enclosed track bridge and monorail cranes, and hygienic cranes for medical, clean room, and pharmaceutical applications.
Vacuum manipulators are used in a variety of industrial, scientific, and laboratory settings. For example, they are often used in the production of glass and ceramics, metals and other heavy materials, tire and rubber, and computers and consumer electronics. They are also used in shipping and transportation; packaging, printing, converting and publishing; the automotive industry; and foundry and forging applications.