One key to First Solar’s manufacturing success is its ability to fully process its thin-film photovoltaic panels in a matter of hours, with very high yields at a cost below that of competing technologies. Engineered glass enters a fully automated production system and runs through a series of deposition, thermal, etching, and cleaning steps that create a thin layer of photoactive semiconductor materials sandwiched between two pieces of glass. The panel then moves into the back-end assembly area, where adhesives are dispensed, lamination performed, junction boxes and other components attached, and final testing conducted. When completed, the now-operational energy-generating devices are binned and sorted, then picked up and placed by brawny industrial robots into shipping containers.
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