A leading manufacturer of semiconductor processing equipment had been searching for ways to reduce frictional torque and wear caused by sliding forces on their linear guide rails operating in a vacuum environment.

Frictional Torque: A Real-Life Example

Torque is defined as the twisting force that can cause rotation. Frictional torque is the torque generated by the frictional force that occurs when two surfaces in contact slide against each other.

For example, when you ride your bicycle and apply the brake to the front wheel, the bike tips forward because of the frictional torque created between the wheel and the brake. If too much frictional torque is applied, you may stop too quickly and fall. On the other hand, if not enough frictional torque is applied, the bike will not stop soon enough which could pose safety concerns.

Frictional torque can be an asset, as in the proper amount for braking, but can also be a hindrance in a variety of engineering applications. Therefore, attempts to minimise frictional torque is a constant challenge for mechanical engineers, especially in vacuum and cleanroom environments where lubricants must be carefully selected to reduce the risk of outgassing and contamination which can accelerate vibration and wear.

Challenges

The most pressing problem was that the environmental conditions in the system were harsh: very high vacuum and operating temperatures ranging from 25 to 150°C. To prevent system contamination, any lubricant solution would have to have very low outgassing characteristics, and low particle generation in dynamic, constantly changing conditions.

Solution

  • A Cyclopentane (MAC) based grease has excellent vacuum stability, low outgassing characteristics and is designed to reduce frictional torque on sliding surfaces.
  • The grease should be thickened with Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) as this will help with the lubrication task and PTFE is also inert.
  • A grease with low outgassing and low vapour pressure characteristics.
  • The Cyclopentane (MAC) based lubricant can deal with the working temperatures involved, which are 25 to 150°C.

Product Selection

NyeTorr 5200, a medium viscosity cyclopentane grease

Results

NyeTorr® 5200 was selected to lubricate the linear guide rails in this critical semiconductor processing equipment application. The results were deemed extraordinary, as the frictional torque was reduced in the sliding surfaces by almost 33%, and the customer (and their client) are very pleased with the results.

In addition to slides and rails, we provide lubrication solutions for other semiconductor and in-vacuum equipment components including bearings, ball and lead screws, gaskets, O-rings, seals, and connectors.

NyeTorr 5200 reduced frictional torque in the sliding surfaces by 33%

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