End-to-End Manufacturing Capabilities
Solar Cell Manufacturing
SolAero’s manufacturing facility, located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is a world-class facility that includes cleanroom spaces for cell (Class 1k), CIC (Class 1k), and panel manufacturing (Class 10k). SolAero’s cell production line is capitalized to produce >600kWe per year. In a typical year, SolAero produces approximately 350kWe, and therefore has the capacity to increase its annual output by ~50% to support additional production.
SolAero has over 20 years of solar cell and CIC/SCA development, qualification and manufacturing heritage, while being the world’s solar cell technology leader for most of that period.
SolAero’s automated manufacturing and assembly capabilities enable achieving higher production volumes at lower cost. Because SPM, PVA panel and PVA manufacturing has historically been performed manually, SolAero has taken the unprecedented step of introducing several automated approaches. For SPM manufacturing, SolAero invented and productized a reel-to-reel type capability for circuit bonding to flexible backplanes. This process provides seamless integration of circuits with backplanes, has been extensively tested and fully qualified to LEO and GEO environments. SolAero has successfully integrated SPMs onto solar array structures.
For PVA panel manufacturing, SolAero has automated string and circuit assembly processes, pioneered a means of semi-automated circuit bonding that eliminated >80% of traditional bonding cycle time, and introduced methods for technician assistance, including laser and image projection and wire guidance for harnessing operations. In total, SolAero’s PVA panel manufacturing capability and capacity now exceeds that of any other supplier in the world.
SolAero has 16,145 ft² (1,500 m²) housing a comprehensive PVA panel substrate manufacturing capability with an installed base capable of 26,910 ft² (2,500 m²) of CFRP-facesheet, Al-honeycomb panels per year.
SolAero has 18,300 ft² (1,700 m²) of PVA manufacturing space dedicated to the production of traditional PVA panels & SPMs, from which >350 flight missions have been serviced. In addition, SolAero has established 5,380 ft² (500 m²) of production space dedicated to PVA panel manufacturing for constellation programs. This facility houses automated and semi-automated PVA panel and SPM manufacturing capabilities and has a capacity of >500,000 Watts per year.
SolAero maintains a variety of environmental test facilities, including a 96 in. diameter TVAC chamber and numerous ambient thermal cycling chambers. These test chambers enable SolAero to provide timely and cost effective test solutions and only in the case of burst capacity or extremely large sizes are the panels taken out of house. Utilization of these capabilities enables SolAero to efficiently manage test events, allows for timely issue resolution, and reduces transportation, handling and logistics that can create schedule delays. All functional tests are performed in house, including the use of a state-of-the-art, multi-spectral Large Area Pulsed Solar Simulator (LAPSS) for solar panel testing.
SolAero currently staffs a team of Engineering and Scientist level resources to support solar cell product development. This team consists of subject matter experts in device physics and analytics, semiconductor materials development, semiconductor fabrication, and device characterization. This team has consistently produced industry leading and flight proven products such as ATJ, ZTJ, Z4J and IMM, as well as other supporting semiconductor devices like Si Bypass diodes, blocking diodes, and Resistive Thermocouples (RTD, PRT).