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Demonstrator machine for high-throughput solar cell metallization

Metallization of a silicon wafer by means of rotary screen printing in a demonstrator.
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The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE and German automation company ASYS Automatisierungssysteme GmbH have fabricated a demonstrator machine that can be used for the metallization of solar cells.

“The modular system design also facilitates other printing and coating processes such as multi-nozzle dispensing or gravure printing,” the research institute said in a statement. “The potential applications of the new system extend far beyond the metallization of silicon solar cells.”

According to its creators, the new machine is able to achieve a cycle time of just 0.6 seconds per solar cell, which means a throughput increase by a factor of 1.5. “The machine has the technical potential to double the throughput compared to screen printing machines,” said Andreas Lorenz, project manager at Fraunhofer ISE.

“Metallization by screen printing is currently limited to a throughput of approximately 0.9 seconds per solar cell and line. This makes the printing step a bottleneck in the production process of silicon solar cells as well as in the printing process of single components in many other industries,” said Florian Clement, Head of Department Production Technology – Structuring and Metallization at Fraunhofer ISE.

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The scientists also developed a special transport system for their new machine. It consists of transporting the printing components on autonomous shuttles at high speed and with precision through rotary printing units produced by Swiss engineering company Gallus Ferd. Rüesch AG, a Swiss machine engineering company which is part of Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG. ” Depending on the specific requirements, a flexographic printing or a rotary screen printing unit can be used for the printing process,” the Fraunhofer ISE stated.

The Fraunhofer ISE and ASYS Automatisierungssysteme GmbH began cooperating on the development of the new machine in July 2020.

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Source: pv magazine