Wafer baking plates, like anything else, need to be cleaned periodically. Sometimes, it’s once a month. Other times, annually. It all depends on the product and the many inclusions involved. Traditionally, the process involved a caustic soda method that’s very time consuming. Other methods may include brushing, scraping or even using dry ice. However, laser technology may provide a creative, more environmentally friendly alternative.

At interpack, held in Germany in May, Hebenstreit and Franz Haas Machinery of America each featured new laser cleaning technology that can reduce the sanitation process to less than a regular 8-hour shift. Although they employ distinctively different technologies, both may be used on multiple lines on different days to reduce overall downtime in a plant.

“Caustic soda is messy and costly, and this system automatically cleans the plates in one shift or less,” said Christian Werner, general sales director, Hebenstreit, Mörfelden-Walldorf, Germany. “After cleaning one system, you can move it to clean another line on the next day.”

Mr. Werner said the patent-pending dry and dust-free system requires no chemicals or water and provides a longer life to components because the robotic laser beam process does not cause any surface alteration to the plates even after years of cleaning.

Haas offers a plug-and-play system that may be used on new machines or retrofitted to previous models.