By Mark Osborne, New Editor, Photovoltaics International
The rapid expansion of high volume manufacturing to meet growing demand in recent years has highlighted the development of increasingly higher throughput machines, especially in the critical bottleneck process of module assembly, specifically characterised by tabbing and stringing steps. Significant productivity improvements have come about with the development of integrated, highly-automated tabber and stringers from a range of equipment vendors. However, module assembly remains the most expensive step in conventional c-Si cell production. Equipment suppliers are also challenged to meet the evolving demands of processing thinner wafers and to address overall production cost reduction strategies while meeting yield/throughput goals that are seen as a significant enabler of reducing the cost per watt.