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Product Catalogue

How to Choose a Valve [2009-05-04]

Vacuum: A space in which the pressure is far below normal atmospheric pressure so that the remaining gases do not affect processes being carried on in the space.

For decades, high-vacuum valve selection has had limited options. Applications have been limited to two basic types of valves with a variety of options–the high-vacuum gate valve and the high-vacuum poppet valve. The ball valve has never been considered a good choice because of inherent virtual leak possibilities, stem leaks, and gas entrapment. Now, the advent of high-tech, high-vacuum ball valves is a reality.

New valve designs have provided ball valves that work well from 10-7 torr to 6.8 positive atmospheres, about 100 psig, while maintaining a leak rate of less than 1 x [10.sup.-9] Std/cc He sec. However, as with other valves, read manufacturers’ specifications carefully, as not all high-vacuum ball valves are created equally, With the elimination of gas entrapment, stem seal improvements, and no possibility of virtual leak, the high-vacuum ball valve has proven itself to be a component worthy of consideration for high-vacuum valve selection. Handles for Single Lever Mxiers

If you need proof and you’re in the semiconductor industry, take a close look the next time a process tool is wheeled out onto the fab floor. Chances are it will have ball valves where previous models had gate, butterfly, or poppet valves. The super-selective OEM tool/reactor manufacturers have begun turning to the high-vacuum ball valve for roughing and high-vacuum foreline applications because the valves work. They can be heated with the foreline to keep gases from condensing until they are trapped in a desired location. They are cost effective, offer longer cycle life, are easy to maintain, and can be replaced with a back-up valve in seconds with quick connect flanges to reduce downtime and increase production and yields.

With only two moving components in the manual version and separate, independent, removable/ replaceable actuators (pneumatic, electro-pneumatic, and electronic, with or without speed controls or talk-back for computer drive/confirmation and a bevy of other options), the high-vacuum ball valve has far fewer “rules” to obey than other high-vacuum valves. Radiator Valves

Material construction is also a consideration. Most ball valve manufacturers offer 316-L corrosive-resistant stainless steel as standard (most poppet and gate valves are constructed from 304 SS), some offer brass, and one will offer aluminum construction in the near future.

While the high-vacuum ball valve doesn’t fit every application, it does fit more vacuum and fit-up requirements than most other types of valves. The next time a valve is causing problems, consider replacing it with a high-vacuum ball valve. If a supplier tells you that other valves are better or the ball valve is not an option, confirm that the company sells newer types of high-tech vacuum ball valves.The news come from