Semiconductor X-Ray Inspection Tool: From Prototype to Production without Alpha & Beta

The Situation

The Bay Area OEM start-up Silicon Valley X-Ray (SVXR – acquired by Bruker) had successfully demonstrated their X-ray inspection technology on their lab tool and needed to rapidly develop a fab-ready product.

Their Asia customer requested a production worthy tool to go into their semiconductor fab in seven months.

The Challenge

SVXR needed to go directly from a lab tool to a Fab ready tool on an extremely compressed schedule, bypassing alpha and beta systems. The tool must meet all the SEMI and safety standards, be highly reliable and maintainable and build to high quality requirements. SVXR did not have the time nor the capital to build an internal engineering and manufacturing capability. They chose to outsource to someone with deep experience in designing and building semiconductor tools and scaling manufacturing.

Lab Tool
Lab Tool

The Solution

SVXR selected Owens Design to be their design and build partner based on their engineering expertise and their ability to scale manufacturing.

Owens Design developed and built the prototype tool in six months. The PO was delivered in June, with the final integration complete by January of the following year. The system was then accepted at a Taiwan semiconductor fab the following June – almost exactly one year from the start.

Owens delivered four additional systems in the following month. Production was set up to support building five systems in parallel while handling the current capacity of building two per month. Capacity is scalable to once a week with four months’ notice.

Owens Design also supported a cost reduction roadmap, to reduce cost and increase profitability.

Production Tool
Production Tool

The Results

According to Dr. David Adler, founder and CEO of SVXR, “We wanted to go directly from a prototype to a production product without doing alpha and beta. When we decided that quality and time to market were the most important, we had very few choices because we wanted to go with somebody who knew what they were doing. You don't want to hire a heart surgeon who's doing his heart first surgery on you. You want somebody who's done it many times and knows exactly what they're doing. By going with Owens, we were confident that they would be able to execute on our very accelerated time schedule and produce a high-quality product.

"Today in the market, we’re establishing ourselves as the primary company for high-volume inline x-ray manufacturing x-ray inspection and we've established a dominant position in that new market. We’re about 100 times faster than our competitors, so there's very little competition for what we do. We're ready to start scaling to much higher volumes so, over the next few years, we plan to scale to tens of units to hundreds of units a year and we will be doing that with Owens.

I don't think that we would be as successful today as we are without working with Owens. There's a lot of things that can go wrong when moving from a prototype to a product and, because our system is running tens of millions of dollars of product per hour through it, it had to really be reliable and work exactly as we said it would. That required outstanding performance not only from our own team but also from Owens to be able to produce a tool that we and our customers could rely on. They did that and contributed a great deal to our success.

Michael Jupina, VP Engineering of SVXR added, “SVXR went to Owens for a simple reason: it enabled us to concentrate on our IP—the x-ray imaging—where Owens’ many years of experience of building a system was then utilized for us to put together this system that was able to be installed and qualified in IC packaging houses throughout Southeast Asia.”