VDL ETG builds complex frames for Zeiss

VDL ETG has won a major contract. For Zeiss, VDL ETG will build frames that assure the precise suspension and positioning of the mirrors produced by this southern German high-tech player. These mirrors form and direct the beam of light in the next generation of ASML's EUV machines. The frames will be built at VDL ETG Almelo and VDL ETG Switzerland.

Millions of euros of investment will be required, mainly to prepare VDL ETG Almelo for the start of production. A new production hall must be built, and an existing production hall will be cleared out and then converted for cleanroom assembly. The roof must be raised to accommodate equipment such as a measuring machine that is nine metres high, seven metres long and over four metres wide. Because VDL ETG Switzerland currently has larger milling machines than in Almelo, the first frames will be produced in Trübbach.

Each of the frames requires two aluminium blocks weighing nearly 20 tonnes apiece. That is about the same weight as one-and-a-half buses. After around 1,300 hours of machining, each of these aluminium blocks will have been reduced to about 3 tonnes. VDL ETG will also fit the frames with pipes, electronics, mechanical covers and cooling plates.

The frames are intended for the latest generation of EUV machines. These will be much larger than the current generation of lithography machines, which make use of extreme ultraviolet light. The frames are several metres high, wide and deep.

Willem van der Leegte recently signed the contract during a visit to Zeiss. “We are very proud that with this order we have also been crowned a strategic partner of Zeiss and have therefore been given the opportunity to add value to the chain of this absolute top player in the optical industry. This order places VDL higher on the high-tech ladder.”

“Thanks to the excellent cooperation in the past and VDL ETG's experience with system integration, we consider this supplier to be a strong partner for the construction of these modules,” says Vice President Dr Stefan Häberle of Zeiss SMT. “We also benefit from the many years of close cooperation between VDL ETG and our customer ASML.”

The initial delivery of the first of three frames is scheduled for late 2020. Production is expected to take five to ten years to complete.