Bleskensgraaf, the Netherlands, 6 October 2017 – Eurotron has achieved a breakthrough in the connection between solar cells and the conductive backsheet foil inside back-contact solar panels. With this new approach, called jet printing, Eurotron will in time be able to realise interesting cost savings through increased precision and further minimisation of material use. The new method, for which Eurotron has applied for a patent, is currently in use in Eurolab.
“As opposed to the current stencil print technology,” says Jeroen van den Berg, project manager at Eurotron, “the conductive paste is applied onto the cell in a contact-free manner. The contact points are identified using vision technology, and the paste is fired from a jet in small amounts. This is done with a higher level of precision than the stencil print technology is capable of achieving.”
For now, stencil print technology is still the standard at Eurotron, and remains so for the time being. However, with the development of jet printing, Eurotron anticipates the solar cell concepts of the future, Van den Berg explains. “A shift is currently taking place within the sector. It is a move away from small numbers of larger contact points on a cell towards more and more smaller contact points distributed across the whole cell surface. Since the contact points keep getting smaller, while at the same time an increase in the use of paste must be prevented, a growing level of precision is required.”
Through the better distribution of the paste dots across the surface, this new technology reduces the use of silver, consequently resulting in lower costs per solar cell. Moreover, it allows for a better control of paste dosage, and only the paste that is actually used is supplied. This further reduces both the evaporation and waste of paste. At the moment, this technology is compatible with any kind of contact pattern of the cells, making the process very flexible.
One year after the first tests, jet printing is in full swing. The technology has been thoroughly tested by Eurolab, the sister company of Eurotron. For now, jet printing is only available on a smaller scale. “With stencil print technology, there are no possibilities left for further decreasing the diameter of the contact points,” explains Van den Berg. “We have reached the absolute minimum. With jet printing, we push beyond this minimum. Entering a whole new level of small, we are prepared for the future.”
Notes to the editor
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