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Brooks Instrument marks 75 years in measurement and control


Photo: Brooks Instrument

Brooks Instrument is celebrating its 75th anniversary as a provider of high-precision fluid measurement and control instrumentation.

The company specializes in advanced flow, pressure and vapour delivery solutions, and serves customers across many industries, including semiconductor manufacturing, pharmaceutical, biopharmaceuticals, fibre optics, thin film manufacturing, solar cells, LED, alternative energy, oil and gas, chemical and petrochemical.

Originating in 1946 as The Brooks Rotameter Company, the business was started by industrial chemist Stephen Brooks in a small suburb near Philadelphia. Brooks commercialized a new design approach for industrial rotameters (used to measure flow) that featured side-plate, dowel-pin construction.

He found this was a more durable, reliable and accurate meter design — and it provided a strong foundation for the company’s growth in the industrial boom of the post-WWII years.

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“From the beginning, the company’s fundamental DNA is based on a relentless commitment to solve challenges and deliver better results, helping customers transform how they measure and control their essential processes,” says Eric Pipal, general manager of Brooks Instrument.

“We’re fortunate in our long history to employ some fantastic people who are very good at listening to customers, understanding their fluid measurement and control needs and then applying their expertise in customer applications.”

Today, headquartered in Hatfield, Pa., the company has a diverse employee base working in manufacturing, sales and service locations throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia.

Over the past 75 years, several brands have joined the Brooks Instrument family, including UNIT Instruments, Tylan and Key Instruments. A major addition in 2009 was the acquisition of Celerity, a supplier of ultra-precise mass flow controllers for semiconductor fabrication.

Other key milestones in the company’s history include:

  • The Sho-Rate variable area flow meters, launched in 1958 and used by NASA to leak-test space suits for the Gemini space program in March 1965
  • Mass flow controllers (MFCs), first used on the Apollo spacecraft to accurately measure oxygen flow, became commercially available with the Tylan FC-260, allowing semiconductor manufacturers to automate the control of process gasses for improved yield and throughput
  • The Mf Series, the first weatherproof and hazardous area MFC, released by Brooks in 1998 for outdoor, hazardous and wash-down/hose-down applications
  • The first mini Coriolis-based MFC, offering improved accuracy for low-flow liquid measurement and control
  • The creation of the first digital capacitance manometer, ushering in a new era in vacuum measurement
  • The first pressure transient insensitive (PTI) MFC, from Celerity Instrumentation, with flow response time and compensation for inlet pressure variations
  • Recent SLA5800 Biotech MFCs, with specialized materials and features designed to enhance efficiency and productivity in biopharmaceutical production
  • The Brooks Instrument GP200, for advanced semiconductor manufacturing, the first pressure-based MFC (P-MFC) designed to operate accurately in high-vacuum and above-atmospheric pressure conditions

Many future trends in the electronics market — the transition to 5G, introduction of autonomous vehicles, adoption of IoT and artificial intelligence — require Brooks Instrument to continue developing technology to support customers.

“We’re excited by the challenges these trends present,” says Pipal. “With our cutting-edge flow technology and technical expertise, Brooks Instrument is positioned better than ever to help customers tackle whatever the future may bring.”