How to Compare Service for Plasma Etch and Deposition Equipment

Beyond machine configurations, materials, and certifications, choosing the right dry etching and deposition equipment partner comes down to one core factor: service.

Thirty-three percent of people who switch brands or providers this year won't switch due to price or even product; they'll switch due to service. Because, at the heart of every industry, service is the major differentiator. This is especially true for semiconductor manufacturing and R&D. 

But how do you know what service is good service? 

To help, here's a primer on how to compare services between two different plasma etching and deposition equipment manufacturers.

Screen Shot 2020-11-09 at 3.59.23 PMStartup/Onboarding Support

Purchasing a hyper-complex and nuanced piece of equipment like plasma etching machines requires precise installation. Often times, this is an area of support that capital equipment providers fail to provide. Almost every company offers post-purchase support options and some type of baseline warranty. Still, many completely fail to provide critical assistance at the point where it is most necessary — the beginning.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when comparing startup/onboarding support between two companies:

  • Do they offer free-of-charge acceptance testing?
  • Do they perform system installations for both hardware and software?
  • Will they help train you on how to use the equipment?
  • Will they teach you the proper startup qualification and preventative maintenance procedures?

Application Support

Most plasma etching equipment providers give some level of technical support. Still, you also want someone to help you run accurate, repeatable, and reliable production environments for your pre-installed recipes. Here are some questions to ask yourself when comparing application support between two companies:

  • Do they offer application support?
  • Do they have a world-class applications lab?
  • Are they experts in their field?
  • Is their application support free for pre-installed recipes?
  • Do they have the ability to provide application support for non-pre-installed recipes?

Hardware/Software Support

Do not work with a plasma etching equipment provider that doesn't offer technical support. This is non-negotiable. You're investing a considerable amount of time, money, and energy in your capital equipment.

When something goes wrong, you need skilled, experienced engineers ready to field your questions in real-time.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when comparing hardware/software services between two companies:

  • Do they offer real-time hardware and software support?
  • Are the people helping you going to be engineers or customer service agents?
  • What are their support terms?
  • Do they provide free support for the first year?

Maintenance & Spares

Preventative maintenance of equipment results in a 545% ROI. When it comes to highly-technical equipment like plasma etching systems, preventative maintenance is the stalwart standing between you and a costly disruption or failure. 

What happens when maintenance sees that a part needs to be repaired or replaced? You need a guarantee on spares. Otherwise, you may find yourself with a broken machine and no way to fix it. That downtime is a serious cost and headache.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when comparing maintenance and spares support between two companies:

  • Do the companies offer fair maintenance contracts?
  • Do they offer both preventative and momentary maintenance?
  • Do they guarantee spares will be available for at least ten years?

Best-in-Class Support Is Not Enough

Amazing support enables amazing results. However, there is more to choosing an equipment provider than support.  At the end of the day, you should be looking for more than just a supplier. You should be looking for a partner. But how do you know whether you’ve found the right company?

Find out by downloading our free eBook “How to Choose a Plasma Etching and Deposition Partner.”

eBook plasma etching & deposition partner