Extrusion Coater Control

ProtoLink developed machine control and operator interface software for a patented extrusion coating machine used by semiconductor and flat-panel display manufacturers.

A leading manufacturer of equipment used in the semiconductor and flat-panel display industries approached ProtoLink about developing operational software for a patented extrusion coating machine. This new technology applies extremely thin chemical coatings to flat substrates or wafers with minimal waste.

To meet system requirements, ProtoLink developed a set of applications which cooperate to control machine functions and to provide an operator interface. Our solution divides embedded processing tasks between a control processor and a communications processor which communicate via shared memory and backplane messages on a Ziatech STD 32 Star System. ProtoLink developed a C++ class library to simplify interprocessor communications over the Ziatech backplane.

The control processor software, which was developed in C++, coordinates the behavior of sixteen axes of motion using Motion Engineering (MEI) hardware. This application also performs I/O operations, alarm monitoring, and sequencing of coating recipes. In certain environments, this software may also perform routing of substrates between workcell stations.

The communications processor software, which was also developed in C++, exposes the control interface to host software using the industry standard SECS II protocol. In addition, this application also coordinates serial communication with a number of system components, such as ovens, hot plates, robots, fluid pumps, vacuum sensors, and PLCs.

Two Visual Basic applications provide the operator interface to the system. One allows operators to construct complicated coating recipes in a graphical, intuitive fashion. The resulting recipes are sent via SECS II to the communications processor which makes them available to the control processor. During recipe execution, the application presents status and alarm information to the operator. The application also supports manual operation of the coater, which is useful when constructing recipes and testing machine functionality.

The second Visual Basic application allows operators to create and edit workcell recipes that control the movement of substrates between various processing stations. It also provides for manual control of individual processing stations.

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