Members press release

GÜDEL, Switzerland - IFR-Partner

Two new Patented Systems for Production of Solar Modules

measuring glassWithin the photovoltaic (PV) industry, «grid parity» is the magic word. It means that the costs for generating PV power are reduced to the level of conventional energy production. On the Automatica 2010, 3S Modultec and GÜDEL present two brand-new machines for different stations in the production process, that bring manufacturers of solar modules closer to this goal.

Process Station for Marking, Measuring and Checking Glass Edges

In the production process of solar modules, the steps for marking, measuring and inspecting the edges of the single-pane safety glass of the modules form an important station. 3S Modultec and GÜDEL present three new features for making the processes more efficient.

Each module first receives an ID, which, together with a time stamp, is converted to a data matrix code and printed onto the module. This ID is the back bone of the quality assurance system along the whole manufacturing process. In the end, a complete data set on the production sequence and material of each individual module is available. Benefit for the customer: The information ensures product quality - also in the long-term - and helps to continuously improve the production processes.

In addition two reference marks are also printed onto the glass pane. Their position in relation to the glass geometry is measured by a mobile camera. The marks supply the exact measurements of the glass panels and make it possible to later remove excess EVA foil that has protruded over the edges during the laminating process.

The third innovation for this process station is the glass edge inspection by means of the integrated «Edge Star» (ISRA AG). It checks the front faces, the edges and the first 20 mm of the horizontal upper and lower surfaces of the panels. The «Edge Star» automatically detects conchoidal fractures, scratches or grinding flaws. Defective glass panels are sorted out at the next appropriate position. All processes are automated. A cycle consisting of marking, measuring and checking takes less than 30 seconds and thus represents a production capacity of 200 MWp (PV megawatt-peak) annually.

Process Station for Cutting Edges, Exposing Contacts, Soldering Laminated Modules

The encapsulating material for the solar cells (EVA and Tedlar) overlaps the glass panel. This excess foil has to be cut off after the lamination process has been completed. Calibrated cameras read the reference marks. The control system of the servo-driven GÜDEL gantry calculates the cutting course based on the data obtained from the measuring station described above, and guides the rotatingblades. The foil edges are cut at a distance of 0.3 mm parallel to the edges of the respective glass panel. The blade does not touch the glass, that is why it can be used for cuts on 100,000 modules before it has to be sharpened. The clean and precise process requires practically no maintenance and has a speed of max. 1.5 m/s. The edges of a module are cut within 8 seconds.

The contacts that are required for transporting the power generated in the solar modules to the inverter are mould inside the laminate. The new 3S/GÜDEL module technology searches and exposes these contacts. This saves manual work and wiring material, because no contacts need to be threaded through the foil any more. A sensor measures the position of the contacts in all three dimensions. A special milling tool now exposes the contacts and the chips are sucked off.

To prepare the automatic installation of the connection box, a volumetric pump applies a precise dose of solder paste onto the contacts. Subsequently they are soldered by a pinpoint RF solder head so that the neighbouring EVA zone is remains unmodified.

All processes are automated. The glass is moved in and out by either the integrated GÜDEL ZP3
handling system, or by a handling system based on the GÜDEL ZP4 gantry. The cycle time for
cutting and exposing the contacts is less than 60 seconds and thus represents a production capacity of 100 MWp per year.

Patents are pending for both machines. With the high-precision and reliable automation of these production processes, 3S and GÜDEL AG contribute to the solar industry's goal of significantly lowering the production costs and increasing the quality of their products.


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