Semiconductor robots: Precision at scale

Robot Tech

Semiconductor robots

Semiconductor robots: Precision at scale

Catherine Bernier
Content Manager
Content for Cobot

Learn how robots enable manufacturers to maximize the productivity of the smallest components on a massive scale.

In the semiconductor industry, precision, efficiency, and quality are not just goals but necessities. As technology advances across commercial, consumer, and government applications, the need to enhance production processes and maintain stringent quality standards has never been more critical. With its unparalleled accuracy and consistency, robotics has emerged as a key player in transforming operations within this sector. 

This article covers robotics applications in semiconductor manufacturing. By exploring how these robots optimize processes for circuit boards, CPUs, and wafer technologies, we aim to provide a clear perspective on robotics' advancements and limitations in this field.

The main applications suitable for automation 

Semiconductor industry robotics applications


Robotic technology in the semiconductor industry has found its niche in several critical areas. These applications streamline operations and enhance output quality, proving indispensable in this precision-driven sector.

Packaging and gluing

Packaging semiconductor components like chips and wafers is a high-precision task that requires consistent accuracy to ensure the integrity and functionality of the products. Robots equipped with advanced vision systems and fine motor capabilities can execute these tasks with meticulous precision, reducing human error and increasing throughput. Similarly, gluing, which involves the application of adhesives to secure semiconductor parts, benefits significantly from automation. Robots can apply the exact amount of glue needed with consistent placement, which is vital for maintaining product quality and reliability.

Material handling

Handling delicate semiconductor materials such as silicon wafers requires extreme care to avoid contamination and damage. Automated robots provide a controlled environment for these materials, moving them between different stages of the manufacturing process. By minimizing human contact, robots significantly reduce the risk of particulate contamination and physical damage to the wafers, thus safeguarding the quality of the semiconductors.

Inspection and quality control

Robots equipped with high-resolution cameras and sophisticated sensor technology can perform detailed inspections of semiconductor products at various stages of production. These robots can detect microscopic defects that might be overlooked by human inspectors, ensuring higher standards of quality control.

Key fact: Robotics in semiconductor manufacturing is not just about automating processes but also about maintaining and enhancing the stringent cleanroom standards required in the industry. Robots used in these environments are specifically designed to operate without creating any pollutants like dust or debris. This cleanliness is crucial since even a particle of 10 microns (about a tenth of the diameter of a human hair) can obstruct the delicate circuits on a wafer.

Robot types used for semiconductor operations

The semiconductor industry utilizes several types of robots, each designed to meet the specific needs of this high-precision environment. These robots are integral in handling the delicate processes of manufacturing semiconductors, where even the slightest error can lead to significant losses.

Articulated robots

One of the most common types used in semiconductor manufacturing is the articulated robot. These robots feature rotary joints ranging from two to ten or more (but most commonly six), allowing for exceptional flexibility and precision. Articulated robots are particularly useful in tasks that require complex movements or access to confined spaces, such as assembly operations or tasks within enclosed machinery.

SCARA robots

Selective Compliance Assembly Robot Arm (SCARA) robots are favored for their high speed and precision in assembly tasks. They are ideal for pick-and-place operations, a common requirement in semiconductor fabrication, where components need to be meticulously placed on circuit boards.

Delta robots

Known for their spider-like structure, Delta robots are high-speed and accurate machines. They are perfect for tasks that require rapid and precise movements, such as sorting or packaging. Their high-speed capabilities help maintain the pace needed to meet production demands without compromising on quality.

Cartesian robots

These robots operate in straight lines along the X, Y, and Z axes. Cartesian robots are particularly beneficial in tasks that require linear motion, such as handling and transporting wafers or other flat components across different stages of the production line.

Major considerations before investing in semiconductor robotics

Semiconductor industry major considerations before robotics


Several key considerations must be evaluated before integrating robotics into semiconductor manufacturing to ensure a successful deployment. These factors are crucial in determining the feasibility and potential return on investment of robotic systems in this highly specialized industry.

Compatibility with existing systems

It is essential to assess whether the new robotic systems can be integrated seamlessly with the existing manufacturing infrastructure. Compatibility issues can lead to significant disruptions and additional costs. It’s paramount to ensure the robotic solutions are compatible with current equipment and software systems.

Scalability and flexibility

The semiconductor industry is known for its rapid pace of technological advancements. Therefore, the robotic systems implemented should not only meet current needs but also be scalable and flexible enough to adapt to future demands and changes in production. This adaptability ensures that investments remain valuable even as product specifications and production technologies evolve.

Workforce implications

The introduction of robotics will inevitably shift the workforce dynamic. It is crucial to consider the impact on the current workforce and plan for potential retraining or redeployment of employees affected by automation. Moreover, there might be a need to hire new talent with specific skills in robotics maintenance and operation, which could affect labor costs and availability.

Return on investment (ROI)

Finally, calculating the expected return on investment is crucial. This involves not only considering the initial setup and ongoing operational costs but also evaluating the potential increases in production efficiency, reductions in waste, and improvements in product quality. A clear understanding of the ROI helps make informed decisions about the scope and scale of robotics integration.

Considering these factors thoroughly will guide decision-makers in the semiconductor industry to make informed, strategic choices regarding the adoption of robotics, ensuring that the technology not only fits the immediate needs but also contributes positively to long-term business goals.

Market size

The semiconductor back-end equipment market is on a robust growth trajectory. Forecasted to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.11%, it is anticipated to grow from a value of $86 billion USD in 2022 to reach $148 billion by 2029. This significant growth underlines the increasing reliance on advanced robotics to meet the demands of precision and efficiency in semiconductor manufacturing, marking a critical investment point for industry stakeholders.

As the market for back-end semiconductor equipment continues to expand, adopting robotic solutions offers substantial benefits, from enhanced production capabilities to improved product quality and reduced operational costs. By considering the various types of robotics, understanding their applications, and carefully evaluating the investment considerations, companies can effectively harness robotics' potential to meet both current and future challenges in semiconductor manufacturing.

What’s next?

You may be ready to take the next step towards including robots in your semiconductor operations, but where do you start?

The HowToRobot platform connects buyers of automation with a variety of suppliers in a streamlined, easy-to-use environment. 

Post your project on HowToRobot today for free, and begin receiving offers from vetted, relevant automation vendors from our supplier network.