Optomec announced today
that the company has received significant orders for its Aerosol Jet Solar Lab
system since its introduction earlier this year. The Solar Lab system is a process
development platform that enables customers to define and develop improved collector
line patterns for current and next generation high-efficiency solar cells by
printing much finer collector lines than is currently possible with traditional
screen-printing methods. These narrower, high integrity collector lines have
higher conductivity and a lower shadowing effect, thereby increasing photovoltaic
cell efficiency (>1%). Additionally, the non-contact deposition process used
by Aerosol Jet is ideal for printing on thinner wafers. The system is commonly
used as a precursor before moving to a full production Aerosol Jet print line
solution provided in partnership with Manz Automation.
Dave Ramahi, Optomec’s President and CEO, states, "We are pleased
that several prominent solar cell manufacturers have embraced our Aerosol Jet
printing technology as a means of improving current cell efficiencies and costs,
and as an enabling solution for next generation cell architectures. We are also
encouraged that we are starting to see applications and interest from the Thin-Film
and Flexible segments of the industry. We expect the demand for our Solar Lab
product and the follow-on production print engines to continue to grow.”
Solar Lab customers are using the system for the development of enhanced front-side
metallization, including both fully printed and plated collector line alternatives,
as well as investigating multi-material collector lines and direct patterning
of etchants and dopants. In addition to enabling efficiency gains by producing
improved collector lines, the Aerosol Jet process is non-contact, so the system
is able to print on wafers that are as thin as 120 microns without breakage.
This can lead to a 10-15% increase in wafer output, reducing the amount of raw
material usage, and leading to significant cost reduction in the overall manufacturing
Research and testing for back-side metallization using the Solar Lab is currently
under way at a number of different facilities. The Solar Lab’s capability
for back-side metallization addresses the need for next generation thin wafers
and unique back-side patterns in an effort to improve overall wafer efficiencies.
Using Optomec’s Solar Lab system as a vehicle to prove out the combination
of front-side and back-side printing can enable companies to lead to significant
efficiency improvement, reduce overall material costs, and reduce overall manufacturing
Optomec is the world-leading provider of additive manufacturing systems for
high-performance applications in the Electronics, Photovoltaic, Biomedical,
and Aerospace & Defense markets. These systems utilize Optomec’s proprietary
M3D Aerosol Jet technology and LENS powder-metal fabrication technology. Optomec’s
Aerosol Jet platform recently won the IDTechEx award for best printed electronics
manufacturing technology. The company has a global customer base of more than
60 users that includes many industry-leading manufacturers.
M3D, Aerosol Jet and Optomec are registered trademarks of Optomec, Inc.
LENS is a registered trademark of Sandia Corporation.
Posted November 20th, 2008