Post-Lamination Manufacturing Process Automation for Photovoltaic Modules: Annual Technical Progress Report, 15 April 1998 - 14 June 1999

NREL, Martha Symko-Davies (NREL Technical Monitor)

Research output: NRELSubcontract Report


This report describes work performed by Spire Corporation during Phase 1of this three-phase PVMaT subcontract to develop new automated post-lamination processes for PV module manufacturing. These processes are applicable to a very broad range of module types, including those made with wafer-based and thin-film solar cells. No off-the-shelf automation was available for these processes prior tothis program. Spire conducted a survey of PV module manufacturers to identify current industry practices and to determine the requirements for the automated systems being developed in this program. Spire also completed detailed mechanical and electrical designs and developed software for two prototype automation systems: a module buffer storage system, designated the SPI-BUFFER 350, and anintegrated module testing system, designated the SPI-MODULE QA 350. Researchers fabricated, tested, and evaluated both systems with module components from several module manufacturers. A new size simulator, the SPI-SUN SIMULATOR 350i, was designed with a test area that can handle most production modules without consuming excessive floor space. Spire's subcontractor, the Automation and RoboticsResearch Institute (ARRI) at the University of Texas, developed and demonstrated module edge trimming, edge sealing, and framing processes that are suitable for automation. The automated processes under development throughout this program are being designed to be combined together to create automated production lines. ARRI completed a cost study to determine the level of investment that can bejustified by implementing automation for post-lamination assembly and testing processes. The study concluded that a module production line operating two shifts per day and producing 10 MW of modules per year can justify $2.37 million in capital equipment, assuming a 5-year payback period.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages57
StatePublished - 1999

Bibliographical note

Work performed by Spire Corporation, Bedford, Massachusetts

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/SR-520-27058


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