Handling of a module with a vacuum lifter JumboErgo

Vacuum Technology for Thin-Film Modules

The main difference bewteen thin-film modules and crystalline modules with individual cells is the thickness of the individual layers of a module. The photovoltaic material is deposited on a carrier substrate while still beeing in the gaseous phase, allowing production of thin-film cells with a thickness of only approx. 10 µm. The subsequent structuring processes combine the individual layers to enable the generation of electricity.

Once the layers have been applied, the substrate glass is bonded with the front glass in a lamination process. After lamination, the edges are trimmed and the junction box is assembled. Finally, the module is framed, measured, classified by electrical power level and packed.


Schmalz Inc.
5850 Oak Forest Drive
Raleigh NC 27616
United States of America

Tel. +1 919 713-0880
Fax +1 919 713-0883
Business card

Requirements for Vacuum Technology

High shear force on glass
Throughout the entire process chain, glass is handled dynamically with a wide variety of requirements. During loading of the line, the glass is often coated with separation powder. The suction plates SGF have a special structure on the suction area to absorb powerful shear forces even when working with suction plates coated with separation powder. In processes that require not only shear force, but also high flexibility and adaptability, the suction cups SAB with 1.5 folds are the optimum solution.

Non-marking handling of glass
Once the glass sheets have been cleaned, marks absolutely must be avoided. With HT1, Schmalz has developed a material that allows glass to be handled leaving no visible marks, even at temperatures of up to 170°C. In addition to the HT1 material,suction cup covers can also be used to completely avoid any contact between the suction cup and the surface of the glass.

Safe fixing/clamping glass
During production, the modules are transported through the process by conveyor belts and robots. The glass sheets and modules must be held securely for individual steps. The lift cups ISCUP-H allow workpieces to be held securely with little effort. The lift cups are pneumatically activated and extend automatically while the vacuum is activated to hold the workpieces.

Ergonomic handling – automated or manual
Throughout the process chain, glass and modules are handled automatically or manually. The modular suction spiderSSP offer a turnkey solution for automated handling, from destacking the glass plates to flashing and commissioning the modules. In addition to automated solutions, manually operated tube lifters Jumbo can also be used. The tube lifter only uses vacuum to lift and lower the modules. This ensures minimal transport times and ergonomic handling.

Key Products for the Thin-Film Modules Sector

Suction Plates SGF

Suction Plates SGF

  • Diameter: 125 to 400 mm
  • Material: EPDM, HT1
Bellows Suction Cups SAB HT1 (1.5 Folds)

Bellows Suction Cups SAB HT1 (1.5 Folds)

  • Diameter: 22 to 125 mm
  • Material: HT1
  • Connection nipple vulcanized to elastomer part

Compact Ejectors X-Pump SXPi / SXMPi with IO-Link

  • Suction capacity up to 220 l/min
  • Max. vacuum 85%
  • Body made of plastic

Innospann Hub-Cups ISCUP-H

Suction area (LxB) 80x20 mm and 80x80 mm
Material: NK, CR

Vacuum Suction Spider SSP

Modular component gripping system consisting of various individual coordinated components
Combination of various gripping principles

Tube Lifter Jumbo

Ergonomically tube lifter
Lift capacity up to 300 kg
Pneumatic swiveling unit