Vacuum Technology for Thin-Film Modules

Vacuum Technology for Thin-Film Modules

The main difference between 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 being 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

T:. +1 919 713-0880
F: +1 919 713-0883
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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.

Short cycle times and high system availability
Handling processes demand short cycle times. The SCPi/SMPi compact ejectors feature an integrated suction and blow-off function. This minimizes suction and depositing times, as well as energy consumption, since the integrated automatic air-saving function means that the ejector is only activated when vacuum is needed. The intelligent compact ejectors also feature numerous functions for energy and process control.

Automated ergonomic handling
Throughout the process chain, glass and modules are handled automatically. The modular suction spiderSSP offer a turnkey solution for automated handling, from destacking the glass plates to flashing and commissioning the modules.

Vacuum lifters and smoothly running crane systems make manual processes more ergonomic

Vacuum lifters and cranes for manual processes in the solar industry

Vacuum Technology for the Thin-Film Modules Sector

Suction Plates SGF

  • Diameter: 125 to 400 mm
  • Material: EPDM, HT1

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

Compact Ejectors SCPi / SMPi

  • Suction capacity up to 185 l/min
  • Max. vacuum: 85 %

Vacuum Suction Spider SSP

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