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About Brooks Automation

Based in Chelmsford, MA, Brooks Automation, Inc. is an independent supplier of substrate material handling robots (both atmospheric and vacuum), modules, software controls, and fully integrated cluster tool platforms to semiconductor, flat panel display (FPD), and data storage manufacturers worldwide.

Many of Brooks' customers are Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), who incorporate Brooks' substrate handling robots, vacuum components, and cluster tool platform subsystems into their products; so as to concentrate on their unique process expertise.

Brooks' System Capability Represent Brooks as a company

This Icon represents Brooks' System Capability.  Used to describe Brooks' products, it communicates the benefit to the customer of having a single source for complete, complex vacuum systems. 

Here, I will use this Icon to also represent Brooks as a company and to represent its products.

Brooks Automation has been a driving force in the field of vacuum substrate handling since its establishment in 1978.  Brooks' early innovations proved vital to process and productivity improvements for R&D labs, end users, and process tool OEMs.  Among these milestones were the patented frog-leg robot arm and the first cluster tool platform, which was produced in 1984.

In 1989, the company was taken private by a new management team.  Brooks' product focus was then redirected to meet the growing demand for more robust factory automation and cluster tool solutions. 

Since 1989, Brooks has focused on creating vacuum transfer robots and other vacuum automation modules and systems.  In 1992, the company introduced the family of vacuum central wafer handling systems and modules that form the foundation of Brooks' current business. 

In 1994, the company introduced a next-generation magnetically driven vacuum transfer robot, and a similar family of systems and modules for flat panel display (FPD) substrates.  Brooks' flat panel robotics systems, with arm lengths of greater than 1.5 meters (nearly five feet), can reliably transfer payloads weighing up to 1.5 kilograms (more than three pounds) and measuring greater than 600 millimeters (about two feet) square.  Brooks is the only automation company with a production-ready cluster tool platform that is qualified to meet the needs of the flat panel market.

In 1996, Brooks acquired Techware Systems, a designer and supplier of integrated equipment control software for the semiconductor and related industries, expanding its software and control capability.

Today, Brooks markets a family of vacuum and atmospheric robots, vacuum cassette elevators, alignment, and thermal conditioning modules; and vacuum cluster tool platforms available with object-oriented software.  In an industry that demands performance, Brooks is second-to-none in throughput, reliability, system flexibility, and particle performance.

The company has distinguished itself as a technology and market leader, particularly in the demanding cluster-tool vacuum-processing environment.  Brooks has been able to set and to constantly upgrade industry standards for substrate material handling, thermal conditioning, and software controls.

Click here to visit Brooks Automation's web site.


Brooks' robots

Click for more information on Brooks robots Brooks' central wafer-handling robot is pictured inside a Brooks cluster tool vacuum chamber.

Brooks Automation recognized the value of isolating, integrating, and automating processes within a contiguous vacuum environment.  And the heart of the integrated processing system would be the "pick and place" robot which transfers semiconductor wafers, magnetic disks, or substrates between stations.  It is this application to which Brooks has dedicated themselves.  The result is a family of vacuum transfer robots of unsurpassed quality.

Brooks' latest robot, MagnaTran™ 7, incorporates a new class of ultra-high reliability magnetic direct drives to eliminate conventional gears, belts, cables, and dynamic vacuum seals; providing the highest reliability, safety, and serviceability standards in the industry today.

For example, the MagnaTran™ 7 robot passed the 10 million mean-cycles between failure (MCBF) mark, signifying a reliability improvement that is 4X greater than previous generation vacuum robots.  This means that the MagnaTran 7 can be expected to operate reliably in cluster tool production applications for up to five years before requiring servicing; as compared to just over one year for the prior generation (cable drive) robots.

The MagnaTran™ 7 uses digital signal processing (DSP) and Brooks' patented Time Optimal Trajectory to optimize transfer speeds of both 200 mm and 300 mm wafers for multiple cluster tool applications.  The dynamic speed of the MagnaTran™ 7 can dramatically increase throughput of PVD, CVD, Etch, RTP, Clean, and Ash cluster tools utilizing Brooks Automation platforms.  In PVD cluster tool applications with up to 6 process modules in a serial flow, Brooks has achieved throughput rates as much as 60% higher compared to other robot designs.  This large gain can be attributed, in part, to the Brooks' patented dual Leapfrog™ arm configuration which is able to pick-and-place wafers without the need for arm rotation.

Equipment and semiconductor manufacturers can specify robot arm, end effectors, and firmware components to customize the MagnaTran™ 7 robot for a variety of cluster tool transport needs.  Configuration options include Brooks' patented FrogLeg ™ single arm, dual BiSymmetrik™ arm, dual (same-side) Leapfrog™, or dual (opposing) arms.


Brooks' cluster tools

Click here for more information on Brooks' cluster toolsBrooks' Marathon 600 is a cluster tool platform with six faces, which allows for up to four process modules and two vacuum cassette modules for high volume semiconductor manufacturing.

Brooks' Marathon family of cluster tools offers an array of proven, multi-faceted platform solutions to meet virtually every process requirement:

  • atmospheric to 5 x 10E-8 Torr
  • 1 to 9 process modules
  • 1 to 3 cassette elevators (load locks)
  • ultra-clean operation
  • hot or cold wafer handling
  • pre/post-process thermal conditioning
  • object-oriented control software
  • SEMI/MESC compatible


Copyright © notice 

Logo, company name, and graphics copyright by Brooks Automation.  VacuTran™ Robot, MagnaTran™, FrogLeg ™, BiSymetrik™ arm, and Leapfrog™ are trademarks of Brooks Automation.  Vignette, logo, and graphics are used with permission of Brooks Automation.


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