Author Topic: Sticky - Vacuum Trainer Overview  (Read 17470 times)

Steve Hansen

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Sticky - Vacuum Trainer Overview
« on: July 29, 2008, 07:44:44 PM »
The history of vacuum teaching apparatus goes back to the 1600s. In the 19th and through most of the 20th centuries the common configuration was a pump (hand or motor driven), a glass belljar and baseplate, and perhaps a mercury manometer or other gauge. In the 1980s Edwards High Vacuum introduced a nice educational package consisting of a small diffusion pump and a set of accessories appropriate for the physics lecture hall and lab.

In the 1990s a number of two year colleges in USA began to introduce formal curricula to prepare students for process and equipment support positions in semiconductor factories. The "standard" curriculum has included one to two semesters on vacuum and plasma processes. The focus has expanded to include related areas such as nanotechnology and other fields that require advanced manufacturing techniques. A "gathering ground" for  information and curricula is the Maricopa Advanced Technology Education Center ( in Phoenix, AZ.

Two companies are prominent in the supply of vacuum education packages to the colleges, Varian Vacuum and MKS Instruments. A newcomer on the block is The Science Source and its Daedalon unit. The American Vacuum Society also has a long history of providing teacher education and vacuum equipment through its long-standing annual Science Educators Workshops. (Please see the High School topic area for more on this program.)

The following paragraphs provide a brief overview of these systems along with some links where more information can be found.

Varian Vacuum Products Vacuum Trainer. Introduced around 1995 this system was the first of the "modern" industrial vacuum trainers. The foundation was a Varian turbopump station with an added glass belljar and a variety of gauges. Other features included a leak valve and a controller with an RS232 computer interface. Common additions included sputtering fixturing for RF process familiarization. The Varian system disappeared from the market around 2000. Further information may be found at the following links:

David M. Hata's paper "Vacuum Systems Laboratory Development"
Jim Jozwiak's vacuum curriculum at Boise State Univ (includes notes and labs) (As of 12/29/08 this link appears to no longer exist.)

MKS Instruments VTS-1B Vacuum Training System. This product followed closely on the heels of the Varian trainer and remains in the catalog. The VTS-1B is provided as a set of kits of varying complexity and functionality. A book containing set up instructions and about 30 exercises is included with the system. A companion product is the Plasma Process Training System (PPTS-1A). This is a table-top sputtering system with 6" chamber, 4" magnetron cathode, high vacuum pumping system, flow controllers for gas introduction, gauges and a pressure controller. Further information on the MKS offerings may be found at the following links:

Product overview at the MATEC site
Student lab worksheets prepared by Austin Community College
MKS datasheet
Article "Vacuum Training for Manufacturing: Why and How"
Article " Technician-Level Plasma Technology Training"
University of Salford (UK) M. Sc. programme in Vacuum Engineering

The Science Source/Daedalon Vacuum Principles and Applications Laboratory (VPAL-A). This is a newcomer with broad capabilities at a relatively modest price. Full details are at Now being introduced is a high school level vacuum system the VPAL-B (Basic). Both of these products are supported with substantial documentation.

Please Note: This topic area is for technical discussions only. Commercial issues and related comments and questions should be referred to the appropriate equipment supplier. This site is not endorsed by any equipment supplier.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2008, 04:46:08 PM by Steve Hansen »