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itek Energy’s Facility – Toward Zero Waste

itek Energy is a 18,600 square foot, 30 megawatt solar panel manufacturing facility. In an industry dominated by large, capital intensive factories, itek’s nimble foot print allows for changes in production to meet local market needs.

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cell string loading

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 2012, itek invested in new production line equipment and two cutting-edge laminating machines, quadrupling hourly production capacity. In 2013, both an additional tab stringing machine and an automated solar cell layup machine were brought on line. Most recently, expansions to an in-house chemistry laboratory have allowed for increased research and development, and quality control procedures.

Many experts in the field expect 2014 to be a significant growth year for renewable energy in Washington. In preparation, itek installed two custom fully-automated tab and string machines in December 2013. itek Energy is very proud to show off videos of our new manufacturing equipment.  Our new Tab and Stringing and Layup machines are helping us improve our production efficiency so that we can make even more of our high quality modules.  itek Energy also plans to undertake efforts to automate the framing and testing procedures to ensure the highest degree of quality and consistency. Enjoy the show!

Tab and Stringing Machine

Layup machine

 

Solar production requires skilled and technical staff. To support the growing need for skilled employees, itek has partnered with Western Washington University’s Chemistry Department’s AMES program to provide training for students in the renewable energy field. Through the utilization of such local community partnerships, itek plans to accommodate the types of hands-on experiences which are vital to the continued development of the renewable energy field.

MODULE CONSTRUCTION
itek’s solar panels are designed and built around tested methods.

  1. The individual 200 micron thick, silicon solar cells are separated from their stack and  connected together in strings of 10 cells using our automated tab and stringing machines.
  2. Each string of 10 cells is inspected for quality and functionality.
  3. The ultra-clear, prismatic solar glass is prepared with the first layer of EVA encapsulant.
  4. 6 strings of 10 cells are laid-up on top of the glass and EVA.
  5. All the strings are soldered together using custom buss bars.
  6.  A second layer of EVA is applied, followed by  the back sheet.
  7. The entire layup, from bottom to top (glass, EVA, solar cells, EVA, and back sheet) are loaded into our laminator.
  8. Under specific time and pressure the EVA encapsulates all the cells, bonding the entire module together.
  9. Laminates are then encased with aluminum frames.
  10. Modules undergo final quality control tests and power output data is collected for each panel.

 

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