Reticle Stockers & Management Systems
Reticle Storage Home Page
We design and manufacture reticle storage systems, photomask stockers, and reticle management systems.
We aspire to create low cost,
space saving designs that are simple to integrate into new and existing FAB spaces.
Cost per box stored and # Boxes/SqFt are our primary
Automated Reticle Storage Racks on Rails
Our storage systems can be made to work with your existing FAB software, or you may elect to use our 'turn-key' Reticle Manager.
Reticle Archive Storage Rooms:
Shown to the left is a Class 10,000 Reticle Storage Room designed with security access doors, reticle
management controller, and library style "smart shelves" with LED indicator lighting. These rooms are often used for storing inactive
It is possible to equip a gray room storage area with a cleanroom wipe down station and pass through enabling this arrangement
to be suitable for active high use reticles.
The above storage solutions deploy automated moving shelves on precision rails.
These moving racks are a great way to reduce cleanroom
Below is a storage solution using conventional library shelving. Although stationary reticle racks are less expensive,
they do require access aisles resulting in a much larger footprint requirement.
Choose either vertical or horizontal box storage orientation.
Indicator lighting can be used on our reticle racks to illuminate the
slot or column of interest.
Copyright © 2019
23,040 Canon 6X6 Reticle Boxes in a 15' X 40' Footprint
Why this approach to Reticle Storage?
Reticle storage is required of every semiconductor FAB worldwide. Solutions range from
inexpensive library shelves on up to multimillion dollar fully automated bare reticle stockers. We believe the market for reticle
storage can be loosely segmented into 3 sectors:
• High End - Advanced automated systems for handling bare reticles
• Mid Range – Semi-automated
systems for storing boxed reticles
• Low End – Simple racks, drawers, shelves, cabinets, etc.
High End: These reticle stockers are priced
upwards of $1M/Unit, or roughly $900 per reticle stored. The High End market is dominated by a small set of established suppliers.
High End reticle stockers are complicated, and quite expensive to develop, manufacture, and support. Most legacy FABs choose not to
purchase High End reticle stockers. For these reasons, the High End market is not the best point of entry for company.
The low end market is essentially a commodity market of common shelves, racks, drawers, and cabinets. Any local machine shop with
a decent set of drawings can build these products. The low price benefit is diminished by the high square footage of cleanroom space
required. For these reasons, the Low End sector is not our best business target.
Mid-Range: There currently exists a small Mid Range
market. These are automated tools used primarily for storing reticles that are in their protective boxes. We believe most legacy FABs
prefer this category, or would like to upgrade into this catagory.
A successful product in this Mid Range market has been the Dynamic
Micro Systems M1900, or the older M1500 version. This solution has enjoyed good market acceptance, and as such is a meaningful benchmark
for any new product offering. Until now, the Mid Range tools were typically priced at roughly $250 per box. Our Mid Range automated
solution will be substantially less, with a capital cost target of ~$40 box.
We believe the critical metric will certainly be ‘price
per box stored’ defined as ‘capital acquisition cost’ divided by ‘system capacity’. At the end of the day, capital acquisition cost
will be the deciding factor. Otherwise, every FAB would already own really sweet high end, space saving, bare reticle stockers at
The target demographic will be existing FABs, all of which have some version of reticle storage already in place.
As such, any new solution will have to complement the FAB’s existing protocol and come on-line with minimal disruption to “how things
are done now”. Therefore, it is essential to offer a product that can integrate to existing FAB protocols. This often means host friendly
connectivity with industry standard SECs/GEM.
The new system should also be able to operate completely independent of any existing
FAB protocol, for those desiring an independent solution. For this reason, it should be possible to buy a new reticle storage system
that will not require a Retcile Manager.
Offering an optional PC based Reticle Manager is, however, recommended because it will add
organizational value and help buyers understand our stocker's functionality and intent.
Our proposed new product is simply a series
of automated storage racks that move on rails. At the press of a button, an operator can open an access aisle to retrieve or return
their reticle boxes. A bar code system is used for tracking.
Background: The concept of shelves moving on rails exists in other industries.
However, there is no commercially available moving shelf solution made for reticles. It may be possible to buy an industrial solution
and attempt to modify it. However, our research suggests it would be cheaper and better to simply borrow the idea and create a custom
solution made specifically for the semiconductor industry.
Reticle storage systems must have specific custom features required by FABs.
It will be necessary to deliver cleanroom compatibility, host integration, S2/CE safety, custom racks (for space efficiency), allowance
for laminar flow, low particle design, FAB accepted materials of construction, ESD control, ‘tool down’ access to reticles, and a
semiconductor industry integration scheme. SECs/GEM capability will certainly be high on the list of some buyers. From a competitive
standpoint, the new product should offer optional indicator lighting for those interested.
Given the very small and highly specialized
reticle storage market, industrial manufacturers will have little or no interest in chasing the specialized market. A suitable system
will therefore need to be designed in part or in total. This is best done by a supplier with semiconductor background. FABs will want
that assurance and they will also prefer that one supplier take ownership and total responsibility for the entire system, including
hardware, software, particle guarantees, reliability, and long term support.
Our new reticle storage system provides all the features
and benefits of the benchmark. It will also have the following compelling advantages over the benchmarked legacy Mid Range reticle
- Lower Capital Acquisition Cost (starting just under $100K)
- Lower Cost per Box Stored (~$40/Box)
- More Boxes per SqFt (in virtually
- Extendible Design (users can add capacity at a later date)
Conclusion: Introducing this new "Mid-Range" reticle storage product targeting $40/box is a reasonable entry point into the Reticle
Storage market. It keeps us in a familiar market as we leverage our existing core competency. It offers buyers compelling capital
acquisition and CoO advantages over existing reticle storage products.
System is relatively simple, and therefore low risk and low
Picotrack is an established supplier of semiconductor equipment with focus in the FAB’s photo module, specifically coater-developer
tracks, stepper interfaces, reticle cleaning equipment, and custom automated handling systems. Picotrack also manufactures brush scrubbers,
single substrate cleaners, lift-off equipment, and photo related chemical management solutions. The USA based company employs about
80 people and has shipped a respectable 300 systems in its 15 year history.