Inkjet Masking for Industrial Solar Cell Processes

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Masking by inkjet printing has potential benefits for solar cell manufacturing by improving the conversion efficiency and production yield. In industry and on lab scale it has been shown that there are many applications for inkjet masking to improve the solar cell efficiency. These applications include honeycomb texturisation, selective emitter, plating of front side electrodes and using inkjet masking for low-cost rear-side patterning for backcontact cells. Key success factors for inkjet masking are its small feature size and high flexibility. Furthermore the contact-less print method is in line with the general trend towards thinner wafers to reduce the material costs.

However, inkjet technology is initially developed for graphical printing, which has less demanding print reliability criteria. In the photovoltaic (PV) industry one malfunctioning nozzle in the inkjet printing system can result in significant decreased device performance or clear visual defects. Therefore the transition from graphical printing to solar cell production cannot be made without a significant improvement in reliability.

In 2011 OTB Solar B.V. started the development of the PiXDRO JETx, a high volume industrial inkjet printing system (up to 2400 wafers/hour) which addresses inkjet masking as a first application. For this application a joint development with Océ Technologies targets to demonstrate an inkjet print reliability and accuracy which meets the standards for solar cell manufacturing. The use of self-diagnosing print heads of Océ, redundant print strategies and the automation from OTB Solar form the basis to combine high reliability with industrial throughput and the printing of fine structures with a drop placement accuracy of 7.5μm 3sigma.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2012

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  • For more than 25 years, NIP has been the leading forum for discussion of advances and new directions in non-impact and digital printing technologies. A comprehensive, industry-wide conference, this meeting includes all aspects of the hardware, materials, software, images, and applications associated with digital printing systems, including drop-on-demand ink jet, wide format ink jet, desktop and continuous ink jet, toner-based electrophotographic printers, production digital printing systems, and thermal printing systems, as well as the engineering capability, optimization, and science involved in these fields.

    Since 2005, NIP has been held in conjunction with the Digital Fabrication Conference.
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