T-Robotics is the leading manufacturer of vacuum robots used in Flat Panel Display (FPD) and semiconductor production processes. It specializes in medium and large-sized industrial robots that operate in ultra-high vacuum and high-temperature conditions. Based on its technical expertise in industrial robotics, T-Robotics has also expanded into personal service and medical care robots.
Published: Mar 25, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)
Last updated: Jul 08, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)
Vacuum Robot Leader Looks Ahead Toward the Future of Robotics
Advancing our lives with human-centered industrial and personal robots
The electronics display market is largely divided between the display panel and the display equipment segments.
In the 2000s, the US and Japan dominated the equipment segment, at a time when displays were increasingly incorporated into a wide range of electronic devices, whereas South Korean firms had control over the display panel segment only.
Korean display panel companies had to rely heavily on overseas equipment manufacturers, as display equipment was an indispensable part of the panel manufacturing process.
Display equipment purchase and maintenance fees thus took up a large chunk of revenues generated by Korean panel makers. These companies also had to halt the production line whenever the equipment was not working, until the American or Japanese manufacturer came to fix the issue.
Ahn Seung-wook, founder and CEO of T-Robotics, cites this overdependence on display equipment makers as a main driver behind his decision to quit his job as a robotics engineer at Samsung Heavy Industries and begin his own venture in 2004.
Ahn believed that Korea must be able to produce display equipment on its own turf to become a leading country in the global display market.
To this end, and based on his own expertise in robotics, Ahn decided to focus on making so-called “vacuum robots,” essential in the evaporation stage of display manufacturing.
The evaporation stage requires a vacuum environment, without any particles present, as the display becomes defective when unwanted substances adhere to the display glass, ultimately lowering the production yield rate.
The vacuum robots operate in such vacuum or high-temperature manufacturing environments where human activity is not possible.
Following years of vigorous research and development, T-Robotics successfully developed Korea’s first LCD (liquid crystal display) vacuum robot, and since 2009 has been developing an 11th-generation LCD vacuum robot jointly with the California-based global leader in the semiconductor and display equipment sector.
“Generation after generation, LCD production equipment becomes bigger and bigger. But the Japanese companies that previously dominated the market failed to create robots suitable for such large equipment at the right time,” noted Ahn.
He added, “T-Robotics could stand in the same ranks as the Japanese firms in the global market when the leader in the display equipment segment officially selected T-Robotics as its business partner in 2012.”
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By Dong-Hyun Kim; edited by Daniel Cho