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Analysis and evaluation of thin-wafer handling methods

: Fischmann, Christian; Giesen, Tim; Goh, Dillon; Hoffmeister, Michael; Wertz, Roland

Sinke, W. ; WIP - Renewable Energies, München; European Commission; UNESCO; World Council for Renewable Energy; International Photovoltaic Equipment Association:
24th European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference 2009. CD-ROM : The compiled State-of-the-Art of PV Solar Technology and Deployment. Proceedings of the International Conference held in Hamburg, 21-25 September 2009
München, 2009
ISBN: 3-936338-25-6
European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition (EU PVSEC) <24, 2009, Hamburg>
Fraunhofer IPA ()
handling; Material handling; Photovoltaik; wafer; Fertigung; Handhaben; Werkstückhandhabung; Greifervorrichtung

Resulting from the ever increasing demand for solar energy and the advancement in the photovoltaic technology the application of conventional grippers becomes more and more challenging in today's wafer production. Available grippers are not yet reliable for the required production rate of wafer mass manufacturing. The thickness of wafers has rapidly decreased in recent years (industrial state-of-the-art thickness: 160 - 200 µm). Due to the low availability of silicon the market prices inevitably increased. It is foreseeable that the wafer thickness will drop to approx. 140 µm or even thinner in the next step of advancement. The gentle handling of such wafers without damage or contamination proves to be too huge a challenge for conventional grippers.
Due to the required coordination of different processes involved in the manufacturing of silicon-based thin photovoltaic wafers the production quality and output depend highly on the level of automation applied. An important aspect of automation in the production line is the handling of those thin wafers from one process to another. This paper describes the analysis and evaluation of different gripper systems and gives an overview about the first test results of the thin wafer gripper test bed.