As an industrial process technology, the use of vacuum has emerged at the beginning of the 20th century. With the introduction of television and radio, the demand for the technology has been growing. The use of solid-state transistors, for example, led many experts to predict the end of vacuum processing, particularly in the electronics industry. But things have changed. In the 21st century, vacuum process technology has brought back to life. Thanks to the creation of electronics.
At present, the market for vacuum components is worth 46 billion. What’s surprising is that it has constantly been growing. The highest demand for vacuum parts come from Asia.
Current trends vacuum process technology
In the 20th century, primary pumps were known for their oil-sealed and rotary vane mechanisms. Before, manufacturers utilized strong chemicals in semiconductor processing. As years passed by, they found that the chemicals were likely to lower the oil’s quality for lubricating and sealing the pumps. After extensive studies, experts developed the magnetically levitated turbo and dry rotary pumps.
Dry rotary pumps required running cleaners and a variety of stages to make it practical and useful. Not only that, the extra costs were higher than expected. Dry rotary pumps also utilized different pumping mechanisms. These include the roots, screw, scroll, and claw. Although these concepts are no longer new, modern machining capabilities made them available at a competitive rate. Each has its pros and cons. For example, the scroll pump can scale down to smaller sizes, making it unique and special.
Turbopumps, on the other hand, utilized spinning blades to impart the best direction to any gas molecules. This process propelled them thru a variety of stages, boosting enough pressure. Early turbopumps only used oil-lubricated bearings in semiconductor manufacturing. However, experts found that the acids in the process immensely affect the oil, leading to pumping failures and inefficient operation. This is where the turbopump with a new magnetic bearing has been developed.
Another current trend in the vacuum process technology is the regenerative pump. Unlike the other solutions, it comes with a high-speed rotor responsible for imparting the best momentum to the gas.
Future trends in vacuum process technology
Predicting the future of pumping technology can seem impossible and risky. The good news is that there are possible technological trends in the shaft speed and pumping power management with a high level of certainty. Take a close look:
- Shaft speed
Dry pumps were originally introduced with 3,000 or 3,600 rpm. At present, dry pumps can run faster. The rpm is around 6,000 for a screw, multi-stage root pumps, and claw.
As you can see the shaft speed has significantly increased. It’s possible that the rpm can be around 15,000. With the improvement in bearings, drives, and other necessary materials, this shaft speed will possibly be a trend in the coming years. While the overall pump costs will be reduced, compact pumps or motor will have a low risk of internal leakage.
- Managing pumping power
Pump consumption can be the factor to blame for a high pump cost. The amount of power vacuum pump consumes on the volume ratio and the inlet pressure. As the pump moves gas without compression and power at an atmospheric-rich inlet pressure, the pump takes a few molecules to compress up to the atmospheric pressure at a low vacuum pressure. This requires a substantial amount of energy.
Recent dry pumps use high volume ratios to achieve a lower power. Unfortunately, the overload must be under control. To prevent this problem from happening, drive electronics are a perfect option. Despite their ability to limit the power or slow a pump at a high pressure, the speed will be a burden. Another practical solution is the development of a blow-off valve. Not only will this relieve the restriction of the exhaust stages, but it will also maintain the pump speed over time.
Modern vacuum pumps have a multitude of benefits to offer just like the Provac vacuum pumps. However, as with other things, vacuum process technology requires more improvement. With enough research and budget, future vacuum pumps will undoubtedly be more reliable and useful. We never know. Let’s always hope for the best!