PowerFilm Solar Inc

Design Process

Design process circular flow chart

 

PowerFilm’s solar technology and capabilities are versatile, allowing us to provide custom solutions across multiple industries and markets, including military, transportation, IoT, and many others.

 

Concept Development 

group working together to design a product.

What a solar solution looks like depends mostly on power and environmental requirements. What is the power consumption of your device / how big is your battery?

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Where will the solution be deployed? 

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These questions will provide insight into the right solar technology, size, and characteristics needed for your application. Standard products can offer a great starting point and expedite the custom design process. 

 

Our Custom Solar Panel Design Tool is a convenient way for developers to get an idea of the different sizes and options available. 

 

Our thin/flexible Electronic Component Panels and related Development Kits are an excellent start for low power applications. These small and medium-size panels currently serve many indoor and outdoor IoT solutions, replacing or extending battery life. 

 

For portable, lightweight, and ultra-rugged solutions, our flexible Foldable and Rollable products are a good fit. These products currently serve many military, marine, RV, and transportation applications, charging and supplementing batteries. 

 

For more power, check out our high efficiency semi-flexible Soltronix solutions. These panels currently serve many transportation, marine, and other fixed mount applications. 

 

We also design and consult on optimal charging electronics, controllers, and storage elements for any application. Our LightSaver and PowerBoost products are two examples of solar solutions with integrated electronics.   

 

During this stage, PowerFilm works with the customer to go over everything the solution may need both electrically and mechanically. Some of these include size, shape, PV technology, flexibility, substrate, mounting mechanism, wiring, connectors, contacts, electronics, weatherproofing, surface finish, aesthetics, testing, and more.

 

Design Review 

amorphous silicon thin-film electronic component solar panel design drawing

Once requirements have been defined, we compile everything together into a formal design proposal. This typically includes a 2D CAD drawing of the panel concept with defined electrical and mechanical specifications. 

 

Customers can review, ask questions, and offer changes or modifications until they are satisfied with the design proposal.

 

At this stage, we are also able to provide prototype and volume pricing and associated NRE charges. 
 

Prototype

solar powered e-display

*Photo courtesy of Plastic Logic

After approving the design proposal, PowerFilm engineers begin building and assembling functional prototypes. 

 

Depending on the design, prototypes may be ‘built by hand’ and not look exactly like the production unit. Changes between prototype and volume productions will be clearly defined in the product proposal.  

 

Prototype assembly usually takes 2-3 weeks for simple builds but could take longer for more intricate designs. 

 

Field Testing

man looking at a tablet with 3D data graphics

With functional prototypes complete, testing in the application environment is critical in determining the performance of a solar solution. 

 

Things to test and verify include: 

  • Adequate power generation under expected and variable conditions

  • Ease of installation

  • Viability of weatherproofing (if required)

  • Thermal Stability

  • Power consumption of the end device

  • Verify mechanical stability and function 

 

Pilot Production

hand trimming an amorphous silicon thin-film solar panel

Pilot production allows us to refine the manufacturing of your specific design and prepare for volume production. 

 

During this stage, we test and tweak new equipment, jigging, and processes related to the new solar design. 

 

Larger scale field testing should also be incorporated into this step, which can catch variation issues so that they can be resolved before launching the product at scale. 

 

Volume Production

robotic arm picking up an amorphous silicon thin-film solar panel

This is the last step in the design process, but the innovation never ends. 

 

Once your solar solution enters production volume, we are continually refining our processes to manufacture solutions better and more efficiently. 

 

We provide the best possible solutions for our customer’s needs. As we expand our technical capabilities, we continue working with customers on next-generation products and enhancements to current designs. 

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