Printed Electronics on the Advance: Flexographic Printed Solar Cells

Lasting reductions in production costs: At the LOPEC Armin Senne, flexo business manager at ContiTech, shows prototypes of printed solar cells, Photo: ContiTech
(PresseBox) ( Hanover, )
- ContiTech Elastomer Coatings presents prototype at the LOPEC in Munich
- New process developed conjointly with the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE

A new kind of process is set to bring about a lasting reduction in solar cell production costs in the future - and will make Germany competitive again in this segment. The role ContiTech is playing in this development will be demonstrated by the company at this year's LOPEC, the trade show for printed electronics. Exhibits shown by ContiTech Elastomer Coatings from May 27 to 28, 2014, in hall B0, booth 321, will include products from CONTI Laserline as well as solar cells whose front side metallization was applied using flexographic printing.

ContiTech leads the project and is collaborating with the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE in order to advance this innovative technology. "Our task is to develop and optimize microstructured elastomer printing plates for the transfer of metal fluids", explains Armin Senne, flexo business manager at ContiTech, and adds: "This also includes elastomer printing plates as well as the evaluation of anilox rollers." The successful test phase has shown a high cost-saving potential when using this technology in the manufacture of crystalline solar cells.

Ultra-fine structures, high precision

In addition, the project team, that includes among ContiTech and the Fraunhofer Institute other well-known companies and research institutions, realizes ultra-fine lines with widths of less than 40 μm in order to reduce shadowing of the solar cell's front side. In this way, the technology not only leads to lower production costs, it also demonstrates potential to improve the efficiency of solar cells.

"And yet with this technology we're only at the start of a development that ContiTech will continue to be involved in," explains Senne, and adds: "The knowledge gained from this project can also be channeled into cost-efficient production of many other products in the field of functional flexo printing in the future."

Ideal solution for many applications

Flexographic printing plates made of rubber are the best choice for many applications and make for excellent printing quality. There are obvious advantages for flexographic printing with the kind of direct engraving that is at the core of the CONTI Laserline range of products. Direct engraving achieves this by lasering out as relief any elements or surfaces not to be printed. Water is then all that is needed for the process of washing away the ash residue. This benefits the natural environment, because the process involves no ecologically harmful solvents at all. "Our customers can thus cut costs and pride themselves on using eco-friendly, sustainable processes", Senne emphasizes.
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