Kaman Introduces a Leveling Tool Designed for Process Industries

September 03, 2021 by Sara McCaslin

Kaman launches ParallelPro, their latest CVD leveling system designed and engineered for the semiconductor manufacturing industry.

This non-contact measurement system includes several upgrades to its legacy system for CVD leveling.

Kaman designs and manufactures non-contact measuring systems. Their measuring systems include a measurement sensor and the conditioning electronics and calibration needed for specific applications. Kaman’s non-contact measuring systems are used globally in various industries, including energy, aerospace, semiconductor manufacturing, metal production, and automotive.


The ParallelPro is a significant upgrade to Kaman’s previous non-contact measuring tool designed to measure parallelism and gap for CVD process equipment. Image used courtesy of Kaman


Examples include their non-contact displacement sensors for defect detection and analog output displacement sensors for automated assembly applications. Their latest product release is the ParallelPro, a showerhead leveling and gapping measurement system for 300mm series chemical vapor deposition process equipment.


Chemical Vapor Deposition

Chemical vapor deposition, often referred to as CVD, is a method for producing a thin coating or film through a chemical reaction of gas-phase precursors taking place on a heated substrate. Its use is already widespread but still growing as manufacturers demand deposition rates that are highly tunable and result in high-quality conformal coatings.


A diagram explaining the chemical vapor deposition process. Image used courtesy of MIT


This is of particular concern to control engineers working in industries that rely heavily on CVD processes, such as the manufacture of semiconductors, using infiltration techniques to fabricate composite materials, producing high-quality powders, and adding conformal coatings to components to protect them from contamination. However, achieving high precision CVD coatings requires an effective system for measuring factors such as offset distance and parallelism.


Kaman ParallelPro

The Kaman ParallelPro measures parallelism, offset distance, and temperature via inductive current technology. While originally designed as a level tool for CVD processes, it can be used for any process control that requires precision measurement of parallelism. 

Based on a legacy showerhead leveling and gapping tool designed by Kaman for 300 mm series CVD process equipment, the ParallelPro is a significant upgrade. The upgrades includes incorporating Wireless Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) communication and a high-capacity battery pack that has been engineered for use in vacuum environments. The system has a measuring range of 0.560” to 0.740”, accuracy of ± .001”, and a resolution of ± .0001”.  


Key Features 

Among the key features of the ParallelPro is the ability to easily transmit data via Bluetooth to a tablet running Kama’s IoS and Android compatible app. The app also provides both data storage and recording capabilities. In addition, the intuitive allows users to see the setup parameters and current status on a layout that represents the chamber at the configuration of the leveling tool. 


Kaman offers a wide range of displacement sensors and other control components that can be used with the ParallelPro. Image used courtesy of Kaman


The design of the ParallelPro system as a whole requires less technician movement around the machine itself, and the chamber setup process for the Kama ParallelPro has been significantly simplified from previous models. The combination of these features has successfully eliminated a number of potential sources for operator error. 

The field-serviceable battery pack provides up to eight hours of life per charge and possesses a long service life. The ParallelPro also includes a calibration tool that requires less service. With the combination of these tools, Kaman is hopeful that these features will have a positive impact on both system uptime and productivity.

While the Kaman Parallel Pro was designed for use in the semiconductor industry, it can be used in any application that requires precision measurement of gaps and parallelism. Its promise of reduced downtime and fewer user errors makes it a unique development.