Thursday, October 15, 2015

3D Laser Printing for Cheaper Solar Energy

Solar power is rapidly gaining momentum as the world’s alternative source of energy. According to reports issued by the International Energy Agency, the sun could become the world’s largest source of electricity by 2050, ahead of fossil fuels, wind, hydro and nuclear.

However, current technologies are reaching their efficiency limits and therefore, the key to unlocking the potential of solar power to produce at such a scale lies in the advances in the photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing.

Striving towards a brighter future, Israeli startup Utilight has developed an innovative disruptive technology applicable for high-volume manufacturing of solar PV cells.

Utilight’s revolutionary 3D printing method called “Pattern Transfer Printing” (PTP). PTP is done by a laser through a disposable low-cost tape that has trenches. Those trenches are filled during printing with a standard high viscosity silver paste. The trench compresses the paste into a straight line that is then released onto the silicone wafer. Eight cameras record the process to ensure absolute accuracy. It is capable of single and multiple prints that require no downtime between prints for drying.

The process is expected to save traditional manufacturers up to $500,000 by providing 70%  savings in silver paste and an additional $500,000 in annual efficiency for a standard voltage manufacturing line. While the cost of solar cells has been steadily declining, it still remains one of the main barriers for wider adoption. Utilight’s printing technology can provide significant reduction in manufacturing costs.The good news for manufacturers is that this new technology simply requires one extra module at the plant, as Utilight‘s systems can be installed not only in new, but also in existing manufacturing lines.

In 2012, after completing a successful feasibility study made possible through funding from angel investors and research and development grants from the Israeli Office of the Chief Scientist, the team at Utilight secured a $4.5 million funding round from Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH, I2BF Global Ventures, and Waarde Capital.

Sources:, Utilight

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