Manz Automation AG has entered into a strategic alliance with laser manufacturer Rofin-Sinar and thin-film solar module manufacturer Masdar PV for development of a new type of equipment to produce thin-film solar modules. After the joint project starts in September, the project is expected to take 12 months until the new machines are market ready.
The process Manz developed in the past for laser edge ablation and the new process in the photovoltaic sector to cut glass using a laser are to be integrated in a single line. The strategic alliance partners believe that this will result in high cost savings in production and far-reaching improvements in the quality of the solar modules.
Edge ablation using laser technology allows greatly improved quality compared to mechanical ablation, as well as high cost savings. The ultra-clean laser process does not result in module impurities, compared to the sandblast or grinding previously employed. This means that the following cleaning stage is no longer needed thanks to the use of 'clean' laser technology.
The laser cutting process for glass patented by Rofin and its development partners also offers significant quality improvements compared to the standard grooving and breaking of the substrate. 'Laser cutting' means that there is no longer any mechanical damage to the glass edge. This significantly improves the solar modules resistance to breakage. This means lower breakage rates in both production and transport, during installation and also in the later operation of the modules.
The Masdar Initiative is a global cooperative platform located in Abu Dhabi for open engagement in the search for solutions to some of mankind's most pressing issues: energy security, climate change and truly sustainable human development.
Together, the strategic alliance partners each benefit from their respective competences. As the engineering partner, Manz Automation develops the production system and integrates the laser technology. Rofin-Sinar is responsible for developing the laser cutting technology, which will be used exclusively by Manz in the photovoltaic sector. As a thin-film module manufacturer, Masdar PV contributes its product expertise and will then qualify the system in production as the first customer.