Solar panel assembly
Stringing cells into solar panels
Each phase of production depends on processes with flavors all their own. Careful control of heating and cooling dominates crystal growing. Wafering employs abrasion and cutting. Cell production concentrates on chemistry. Any factory process would be incomplete without a final assembly step, and in PV such a step is known as moduling.
At SolarWorld, module manufacturing is a highly automated process, relying on robust steel robotics to undertake the increasingly heavy lifting of assembling lightweight PV cells into modules weighing around 45 pounds apiece. Each robotic tool works within a safety fence that, by design, excludes people. First, cells are soldered together into strings of 10, using an over-under-over-under pattern of metal connectors to link the cells. Six strings are laid out to form a rectangular matrix of 60 cells. Each matrix is laminated onto glass.
To become a module, however, each laminate requires not only a frame to provide protection against weather and other impacts but also a junction box to enable connections among modules or with an inverter-bound conduit. Robots affix those, too.
Inspection and Shipping
Careful cleaning and inspection provide final touches before each module can be palletized for delivery to homes and businesses.
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