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Vacuum Gripper for Handling Photovolt. Components

Schmalz, Inc.

Not every vacuum gripper is qualified for all process steps involved in handling photovoltaic components like gripping, moving, optical measurement, positioning, stacking and releasing.

The latest technology for handling wafers and solar cells utilises

However, these types of gripper both have considerable disadvantages: When using conventional vacuum grippers, chemical contamination and high mechanical strain occur at contact surfaces. Meanwhile floating suction pads carry the disadvantages of a considerably lower cycle speed of t > 1 sec, of relatively imprecise positioning and uncontrolled blow-off of nuisance particles into the process room.

Schmalz's new development, the Schmalz Wafer Gripper SWG, is particularly suitable for the extremely fast, precise and damage-free handling of highly sensitive wafer and solar cells by eliminating disadvantages of previous handling concepts:

  • Extremely fast and accurate handling with a magical cycle time of less than 1 second
  • Precise positioning and minimal cycle times due to fast blow-off function
  • Minimal shearing forces and minimal risk of conchoidal fractures due to low vacuum level
  • Minimal surface contamination of the raw wafer and avoidance of blind spots due to special gripper contact surface made of PEEK (Polyetheretherketon)
  • Secure gripping and holding of deformed or broken wafers due to high holding forces even in case of partial utilisation or leakage
  • Exact positioning while visual inspection and position measuring
  • Breakage control "on the fly" by optional backlighting of the whole wafer due to
    modular construction with different contact surfaces, absorbability elements and sensor technology
  • Available for common robot flange connections
  • Including complete vacuum generation standardly
  • Provision for customer requirements regarding loading conditions and distance measurement can be accommodated

The SWG suction pad geometries fit to the usual wafer sizes of 125 mm or 156 mm. It is available with a contact surfaces made of PEEK or optional with foamed plastic surfaces.
With its modular construction concerning integrated pneumatic vacuum generation with controlled extraction, blow-off function, robot interface, optional upgrading- and solar modules, it is the ideal solution for fully and semi automated photovoltaic cell production.

Schmalz is the leading supplier of Vacuum Automation Components as well as Robotic and Gantry style Vacuum Gripping Systems. Schmalz supplies modularly constructed area and layer vacuum grippers for flexible handling of varying material properties, configurations and shapes - such as non-rigid cardboard boxes, plastic film and porous materials. Schmalz grippers can handle varying dimensions and undefined positions. The product range of Vacuum Components includes suction cups in (11) standard materials and cup lines for special industry needs, e.g. Automotive cups or cups for the Packaging industry. The product range also includes vacuum generators, mounting elements and system monitoring devices. 
Schmalz, founded in 1910 in Germany, is family owned and operated in third generation. Schmalz is one of the few positive-energy companies worldwide and has been rewarded for its sustainability several times. Schmalz is DIN ISO 9001 and DIN ISO 14001 certified for more than 10 years.

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