Greene Tweed:
When it Can’t Fail

by:Nick McNeal, Pragati Verma, Thyag Sadasiwan

For years, the world will tell stories about what happened when we ran out of semiconductors during the pandemic. But industry insiders will remember this time for one more reason. The crunch highlighted the vital importance of some inconspicuous but indispensable component makers that power the intricate machinery of chip manufacturing.

Greene Tweed’s Chemraz® FFKM Seals:
Unsung Heroes

Greene Tweed is a remarkable example of such a company working behind the scenes to manufacture sealing solutions that outperform and outlast the world’s harshest semiconductor manufacturing applications. For 160 years, we’ve equipped critical sectors with materials and engineered components that deliver certainty for their crucial operations.

Our Perfluoroelastomer (FFKM) Chemraz® o-rings and sealing solutions, for instance, meet the critical demands of modern chip fabrication by preventing contamination while withstanding aggressive chemicals and extremely high temperatures.

For decades, we have been at the forefront of the complex FFKM production process. These high-performance materials need specific ingredients. So, disruptions can occur even if a single ingredient is in short supply. An unexpected and tumultuous industry-wide supply crunch gripped several FFKM ingredients due to several factors, including pandemic lockdowns and geopolitical events such as the Russia-Ukraine war. The situation was exacerbated by an announcement from a major supplier that it will stop producing all fluoropolymers, fluorinated fluids, and certain additive products by the end of 2025.

The disruption could not come at a worse time — It coincided with a global surge in demand for chips. FFKM material was in short supply at the very moment when semiconductor manufacturers needed it to go into overdrive. Soon, the FFKM industry found itself caught in the middle of a perfect storm, where supply delays could cause serious impediments to semiconductor availability and the resultant economic recovery.

It’s not hard to see how these disruptions have made chipmakers acutely aware of how dependent the semiconductor industry is on FFKM seals. What’s more, the criticality of FFKM sealing solutions will only grow as chipmakers pack more and tinier transistors in their chips and turn to more demanding processes that rely on ultraclean processing.

Greene Tweed was the first sealing solutions company to use cleanroom manufacturing in the US and we intimately understand the significance of ultraclean operations in the semiconductor industry. We understand that our FFKM Chemraz® sealing solutions are critical to perform in the harshest environments of modern semiconductor fabrication processes and improve uptime, reduce contamination, and boost wafer yield.

Where Second Best Isn’t Good Enough

Cut to 2023: While the semiconductor industry is currently experiencing a short-term cyclical downturn, the next year looks brighter with predictions pointing towards an upturn in the second half. These boom-and-bust cycles are bound to intensify uncertainty and create demand-supply imbalances. In these uncertain times, even a downturn cannot eliminate the potential for supply disruptions leading to tightness and a resultant surge in demand.

As a global leader in seals based on FFKM elastomers, we at Greene Tweed know that second-best seals aren’t good enough in an industry as complex and challenging as semiconductor manufacturing. So, we decided to take action to minimize the impact of future disruptions on our customers’ ability to manufacture chips.

To learn more about what we are doing to secure regular supply for our semiconductor customers’ growth and success, read the article originally published in Silicon Semiconductor