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Posted: March 31, 2009
Solarcoating Machinery Selects iTi Solar for Integrated Roll-to-Roll Solar Cell Manufacturing
(Nanowerk News) iTi Solar, a manufacturer dedicated to advancing the economics of clean, renewable energy through the use of industrial inkjet technologies, today announced it has been selected by Solarcoating Machinery GmbH (ScM) of Germany, a supplier of turnkey production line solutions for flexible solar cell fabrication,to provide the first digital inkjet system for its integrated roll-to-roll solar cell manufacturing production line. iTi Solar will provide ScM with precision digital industrial inkjet systems that improve production efficiencies and reduce manufacturing costs.
iTi Solar’s proven, industrial single-pass inkjet printing technology will be integrated into ScM’s flexible, roll-to-roll manufacturing line process allowing manufacturers to print on photovoltaic solar cells at a fraction of the cost of traditional analog deposition technologies. ScM provides solutions from pilot line to full production for solar cell manufacturers, including the equipment for making flexible solar cells, packaging them into flexible modules and bonding them to other flexible substrates, such as fabrics.
“Solar cell manufacturers around the world want to produce quality, high-efficiency solar cells that enable solar energy to cost-effectively compete with traditional energy sources,” said Thomas Kolbusch, managing director, ScM GmbH. “We believe inkjet technologies represent a powerful tool in reducing manufacturing costs and improving efficiency. iTi Solar’s substantial knowledge, expertise and proven leadership in industrial inkjet technologies and their focus on applying these technologies to solar cell manufacturing systems made them our clear choice. iTi Solar’s digital inkjet process workstations will be instrumental to our goal of providing low cost, fully integrated solar cell manufacturing systems.”
Inkjet technology is emerging as an adaptable, precise printing method that advances solar cell manufacturing processes while reducing costs by minimizing materials usage and waste through the use of non-contact, digitally controlled, additive materials deposition. Inkjet is applicable to both rigid silicon-based and flexible thin-film photovoltaic cells.
“Combining inkjet processes in a roll-to-roll or rigid substrate production environment provides many advantages for solar cell manufacturers,” said Dr. Ross Mills, chairman, founder and chief technology officer, iTi Corporation. “Inkjet is ideal for use with a roll-to-roll process used for flexible substrates. With the addition of iTi Solar, ScM has added another leading-edge technology to its family of pilot line and full production solutions.”
ScM will also incorporate the iTi Solar inkjet system as an optional module for its Click&Coat™ coating system, a flexible approach that gives customers maximum flexibility for manufacturing line system configurations. The Click&Coat™ system is applicable for both flexible substrates such as thin plastics and rigid substrates such as glass and silicon. The single-pass technology is installed in multiple locations around the world supporting many types of applications and manufacturing processes.
Inkjet printing represents a potent economic tool for accurate deposition of liquids and has enormous potential for the direct writing of electronic devices, including solar cells. Current methods are expensive because they require the sequential deposition, patterning, and etching of selected semiconducting, conducting, and insulating materials, involving multiple photolithography, screen and vacuum-deposition processes. Inkjet processes have the potential to greatly simplify the fabrication of solar panels by:
Reducing the number of manufacturing steps
Making more efficient use of expensive materials, and
Eliminating much of the vacuum equipment that often requires a clean room environment.
iTi Solar and ScM work closely with a network of research and development companies to advance the new energy economics of renewable energy, including Risoe, Cetemsa, Holst Centre, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Printed Electronics and the University of New South Wales.
“In today’s emerging new energy economy, international cooperation and partnership are essential to the advancement of innovative technology breakthroughs,” added Mills. “iTi Solar and ScM are a prime example of market leaders from around the world working closely to deliver next generation technologies that are scalable, economical and practical.”