Rock-Star – Evaluation and Development of Rotary Printing Methods for the Manufacture of Si Solar Cells

Duration: September 2015 - December 2019
Contracting Authority/ Sponsors: Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)
Project Partners: Asys Group, Gallus Ferd. Ruesch AG, ContTech Elastomer-Beschichtungen GmbH, TU Darmstadt IDD
Assoziierte Partner: Zecher GmbH, Hanhwa Q-Cells
Website: https://www.solarstromforschung.de/rock-star/
Project Focus:
Rock-Star - Flexographic printing front side metallization
© Fraunhofer ISE, ContiTech Elastomerbeschichtungen GmbH
Flexographic printing front side metallization with laser-engraved elastomer printing form

The German PV industry is facing new challenges due to the current change in the solar sector. It is important to address the existing overcapacities and the immense cost pressure in the production of solar cells and solar modules with new, innovative concepts and a new generation of production techniques. Special emphasis is placed on costly process steps such as front and back metallization, where innovative and material-saving manufacturing processes could significantly contribute to reducing manufacturing costs. Under the auspices of the technology leader in solar cell metallization lines - ASYS Solar - and the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE), high throughput rotary printing methods are being evaluated and suitable system processes are being developed for the cost-effective metallization of Si solar cells as part of this research project. 

The German PV industry is facing new challenges due to the current change in the solar sector. It is important to address the existing overcapacities and the immense cost pressure in the production of solar cells and solar modules with new, innovative concepts and a new generation of production techniques. Special emphasis is placed on costly process steps such as front and back metallization, where innovative and material-saving manufacturing processes could significantly contribute to reducing manufacturing costs. As a new technical solution for the metallization of solar cells, rotary printing methods such as flexographic printing, rotary screen printing and indirect gravure printing can be considered. Rotary printing methods are mainly used for the transfer of fine structures with high throughput rates. As part of the research project "Rock-Star", a group of renowned industrial companies now wants to research and evaluate the possible applications of this technology for the metallization of solar cells. Under the auspices of the technology leader in solar cell metallization lines - ASYS Solar - and the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE), high throughput rotary printing methods are being evaluated and suitable system processes are being developed for the cost-effective metallization of Si solar cells and a high-throughput demonstrator plant with flexographic and rotary screen printing metallization is being developed as part of the research project. The design and production of such a system requires maximum precision with regard to the transport concept and the design of the rotary printing units. The demonstrator system is currently being manufactured under the leadership of ASYS Solar and is expected to put into operation at Fraunhofer ISE in the second quarter of 2019. The aim is to achieve a throughput of up to 8000 solar cells per hour. Gallus Druckmaschinen GmbH enriches the research collaboration in this regard with its decades of experience as a leading global manufacturer of high precision rotary printing units and industrially produced Gallus Screeny P-Line screen printing plates featuring the unique Flow-Shape Topography. ContiTech Elastomer Coatings GmbH develops laser-engraved printing plates with micrometer precision for the research project. The project is supported scientifically and technologically by the Fraunhofer ISE and the Institute of Printing Methods and Printing Machines (IDD) of the Technical University of Darmstadt. The companies Hanwha Q Cells GmbH and Kurt Zecher GmbH as associate partners support the project with know-how in the field of solar cell and solar module manufacturing and anilox rollers.

The project is supported scientifically and technologically by the Fraunhofer ISE and the Institute of Printing Methods and Printing Machines (IDD) of the Technical University of Darmstadt. The companies Hanwha Q Cells GmbH and Kurt Zecher GmbH as associate partners support the project with know-how in the field of solar cell and solar module manufacturing and anilox rollers.