Merit Selects Rudolph's NSX Macro Defect Inspection System

April 15, 2013. Rudolph Technologies Inc., a provider of process characterization equipment and software for the semiconductor and related industries, announced that it has sold an NSX Series macro defect inspection system to Merit Sensor Systems Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Merit Medical Systems Inc., a manufacturer and marketer of proprietary disposable devices used primarily in cardiology, radiology, and endoscopy. Merit Sensor will use the tool to inspect its pressure sensors that are used in a variety of applications including medical devices such as a balloon inflation device, which expands balloon catheters during angioplasty procedures.

“Quality assurance is an absolute requirement in these products because they are used in such critical applications,” said Scott Sidwell, engineering manager, Merit Sensor Systems. “The NSX automated inspection system allows us to inspect 100% of the sensors with high confidence that we will detect any and all significant defects. We expect this new inspection tool to provide substantial improvements in speed, reliability, and repeatability over the inspection system it is replacing. We have been particularly pleased by Rudolph’s willingness and ability to respond to our technical requirements during the competitive evaluation that led to our selection of the NSX system.”

Angioplasty is a minimally invasive surgical procedure used to widen arteries that have been narrowed by the accumulation of plaque. A collapsed balloon on a catheter is inserted into the narrowed section of the artery and carefully inflated to pressures 75 to 500 times normal blood pressure, mechanically expanding the plaque and surrounding arterial muscle layers. The balloon is then deflated and removed. A stent may or may not be inserted to help maintain the expanded luminal passage. Precise monitoring of the pressure in the balloon is critical to the success of the procedure. The pressure sensors are manufactured in batches on silicon-wafer substrates and subsequently sawed into individual sensors. The NSX can inspect wafers at any stage of the fabrication process, both before and after sawing; 100% inspection is commonly required in critical applications such as medical devices and automotive systems.

The NSX Series, used by manufacturers for automotive, medical, and related applications where 100% inspection is normally required, can deliver fast, repeatable macro defect inspection throughout the device manufacturing process. Macro defects (defects 0.5 micron and larger) can be created during wafer manufacturing, probing, bumping, dicing, or by general handling, and can have a major impact on the quality of a microelectronic device. The NSX quickly and accurately detects yield-inhibiting defects, providing quality assurance and valuable process information.

Merit Sensor Systems Inc., www.meritsensor.com.

Rudolph Technologies, www.rudolphtech.com.

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