Israel-based Utilight develops revolutionary new technique for 3D printing solar cells

3d.printing

Jun 10, 2015 | By Simon

With the rise of various products that are aimed at creating and harvesting sustainable energy, it comes with little surprise that many of the world’s top thinkers have been looking to additive manufacturing to develop unique solutions that could one day hold the answer for the future of clean energy.

Among others who have been actively using additive manufacturing technology to create more sustainable energy gathering systems include the Israel-based startup Utilight.

Since completing successful rounds of funding in 2012 made possible thanks to a series of government grants and angel investors including the Israeli Office of the Chief Scientist, the engineers at Utilight have been actively developing a new type of additive manufacturing technology called Pattern Transfer Printing (PTP) that allows for the immediate implementation in the photovoltaic metallization process of c-Si solar cells.  According to the company, this implementation “is designed for a quick and smooth assimilation within existing High Volume Manufacturing (HVM) production lines – using the same metal pastes and production sequences and maintaining cell durability and bankability.”  Ultimately, the new technique is capable of increasing the efficiency of solar cells while simultaneously reducing the photovoltaic manufacturing costs.

The company is claiming that the the new PTP process is capable of saving traditional manufacturers up to $500,000 in silver paste and an additional $500,000 in annual efficiency for a standard 40mw PV manufacturing line.  Based on these calculations, the company promises that those who are brave enough to use the process in their line will see a full return on cost in less than half a year – a very short span of time when all is said and done.

“Utilight’s method requires no change in the existing production line, with only an addition of one module with a minimal investment, providing savings of up to 70% in silver paste and an increased efficiency of up to .4%. With a PTP printer, the structure of a silicone wafer changed by dramatically increasing the amount of silver printed lines while decreasing their size,” says the young company.

Although the company itself is relatively young in the scope of solar cell technologies, its executive members bring a wealth of experience from material science, physics and engineering backgrounds; Giora Dishon, the CEO & Chairman, alone holds over 30 years of experience in semiconductor and packaging processing while the other team members all hold PhDs and have years of experience in their respective fields.

Although the solar cell industry may not be familiar to many, it is expected to grow exponentially as we continue to seek out alternative and sustainable energy sources including the sun.

“Striving towards a brighter future, (our) innovative technology aims to increase solar cell efficiency and reduce material use, reducing the cost per watt of solar electricity,” adds the company.

“As today’s leading photovoltaic cell manufacturers have reached the limits of conventional screen printing metallization processes for solar cells; PV manufacturers must adopt new ways to promise substantial efficiency gains in order to be competitive within this thriving market.”

You can read the article from the source here.

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