Applied Materials Unveils New Solar Cell Screen Printer

Applied Materials have released details of the Baccini Pegaso, a new smart platform for screen-printing solar photovoltaic (PV) cells. The company says it will bring the cost of solar power down by delivering high yields at the lowest overall cost-per-watt of any cell manufacturing system available.
Applied Materials claims the Pegaso platform can produce 20 million high-efficiency multi-crystalline PV cells each year and the platform’s dual print heads work on a near-micron level to ensure maximum accuracy and zero wafer damage. 
Given the competitive nature of the capital systems industry, Applied Materials have also allowed customers the ability to incorporate emerging solar cell designs into the assembly platform, “future proofing” the technology. 
Applied’s Dr. Mark Pinto says that over the past 20 years, as the volume of solar panels on the market has grown and installation costs slowly declined, the price of solar energy has fallen to point where producing conventional solar cell efficiencies of around 16 percent are no longer feasible on balance-of-system (BOS) reasoning. Manufacturing has a key role to play in solar efficiency, Pinto says.
"Efficiency is ultra-important. The challenge our customers have today is that we’ve reached a point where efficiency and cost reduction must happen simultaneously because the balance of system cost is becoming a larger fraction, sometimes even larger, than the cost of the modules themselves."
Screen printing solar manufacturing technology currently dominates the silicon PV market, and Applied Materials say their Baccini systems have been used to produce about three-quarters of the crystalline solar cells in use around the world today.
"The next wave of cost-per-watt reduction in the solar PV industry will be achieved through major changes in cell technology and manufacturing sophistication to simultaneously improve efficiency and factory output."