ABB Robot Certified to the Most Stringent Clean Room Conditions


IRB6640 robot now complies with strict photovoltaic industry specifications for Class 5 clean rooms

Working in close cooperation with systems integrator Sieghard Schiller GmbH, a specialist in automated manufacturing, ABB has upgraded its IRB 6640 robot to create a new "clean room" version. The project was undertaken in response to the strict specification required for thin film production processes used in solar module manufacturing; where cleanliness is a critical factor.

Impossible without clean robots

Thin film manufacturing consists of applying semiconductors and electrical interconnecting layers to a glass substrate carrier. Any contamination, even in the micron range, reduces the power rating of the modules. The degree of cleanliness required, plus the size and weight of the modules, precludes using traditional manual production methods. It is therefore impossible to construct the modules in an economic way without using "clean" robots. Now the new clean-room version of the IRB 6640 meets all necessary process and clean room specifications for the industry.

Stringent evaluation test

Certification was undertaken by The Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA in Stuttgart. They rigorously tested the six-axis articulated robot over a period of seven weeks and included evaluation and compilation of all relevant documents. The primary objective was to evaluate the IRB 6640's clean-room suitability and surface cleanliness attributes.

Over 100 tests analysed

The first step was to establish the test environment, decontaminate the robot and define the operating parameters. This included the speed of all robot axes (at 50% and 100% full speed) and the wrist payload (at 100% capacity). In addition possible sources of contaminating particles were isolated. Measurements were taken for one hundred minutes per axis and per speed. These generated one hundred test results for the analysis. The evaluation was done in accordance with relevant specifications from VDI (Vercin Deutscher Ingenieure).

Passed with flying colours

The IRB 6640 clean room robot passed all tests with flying colours and now fully meets the stringent Class 5 clean room specifications and is ideally suited to thin-film manufacturing. It features minimal maintenance and maximum availability, while precisely and cost-effectively adhering to specification requirements. Its unique motion control optimizes efficiency. Additional features include high speed, short cycle times, easy programming and the ability to synchronize with external devices such as tracks, motors & positioners.

Meeting the needs of Solar industries

ABB's new IRB 6640 clean-room robot will help the thin film photovoltaic sector to improve productivity by lowering manufacturing costs, while at the same time raising production output, achieving consistently high quality and improving workplace health and safety.


ABB clean-room robots have three paint layers: a prime coat, a white paint layer and a clear top coat. Screws and inspection panels are covered with plastic prior to painting, which is subsequently removed when the paint dries. Some screws and panels are then protected again using removable covers, which facilitates cleaning. Inspection panels are not painted. Some of the cables are installed in an enclosed cable carrier, which enables them to be properly transported and at the same time prevents worn areas - even those that are not visible - from being exposed. Any areas that could potentially cause contamination are sealed at the factory using metal plates.

The clean-room robots are cleaned before they are shipped to customers and are protected by a double layer of plastic. The first layer is removed just outside the clean room to prevent any contaminants from entering. The second layer of plastic is removed inside the clean room to ensure compliance with strict cleanliness specifications.

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