New Product: ACI-ecotec offers inline high-speed solar wafer separation with reduced breakage

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Product Briefing Outline: ACI-ecotec GmbH & Co. KG has developed a new inline wafer separation system suitable for separating mono- and polycrystalline wafers in all common formats with thicknesses of up to 120 µm. The new ecoSplit IXL has an output capacity of at least 3000 wafers per hour, and the especially gentle, patented separation technology makes it possible to reduce breakage rates to a low as 0.1%.

Problem: Decreasing the number of manual work steps, which are inevitably associated with a high risk of breakage, makes it possible for manufacturers of solar wafers to achieve cost and quality advantages which are decisive for their competitive edge.

Solution: The bottommost wafer is removed from the stack by a special roller system. This is done so gently that it’s been possible to verify the lack of any traces left on the sensitive solar wafers. Only one wafer is removed from the stack at a time. After separation, the wafers are fed to individually adapted transport units for cleaning. Five to eight of these units can be taken advantage of, depending upon the type of utilised cleaning system. This type of output flexibility makes it possible to combine the ecoSplit with any common cleaning system. The wafers are prevented from drying out during the separation process by means of continuous moistening. The entire separation process from insertion of the wafers right on up to transfer to the cleaning process is monitored and controlled by sensors, and visualized at a monitor screen, which ensures that no breakage occurs in the event that a wafer is not correctly transported. No elaborate gripping or handling systems are required which often result in increased breakage rates. Breakage rates can be reduced to as low as 0.1% depending upon sawing quality.

Applications: Mono- and polycrystalline wafers.

Platform: The system is equipped with two loading stations, onto which the sawn wafers are placed in stacks of up to 250 pieces after pre-cleaning and manual inspection. The ecoSplit IXL is claimed to be the only separating system which can be loaded while running, and thus assures continuous operation without interruptions. Coding can be entered for each stack of wafers by means of a scanning system, or with the help of a master MES (manufacturing executive system). Two-lane belt conveyors are used to transport the solar wafers. Tool footprint of is 350 x 130 cm (L x W without outlet belt). All of the moisture sensitive units are enclosed in reliably sealed housings, and the control cabinet has been integrated into the robust design as well. The layout allows for quick connection to the cleaning system, as well as initial start-up

Availability: June 2009 onwards.

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