Australia now has a new solar cell printer that can very quickly print flexible solar cells up to A3 size, which is much bigger than has previously been possible.
The new solar printer, installed at Australia’s CSIRO, is a collaboration between CSIRO, The University of Melbourne, Monash University, and industry partners. Printing flexible solar cells as large as A3 will open up a huge range of new possibilities, according to CSIRO materials scientist Dr Scott Watkins. The cells could power lights, be applied to signage, and have interactive elements. The cells could even be embedded into laptop cases and other electronic devices. Eventually, researchers see these being able to be laminated to windows that line tall buildings.
Dr David Jones, project coordinator and University of Melbourne researcher, has said that one of the best things about the technology is that the approach uses existing printing techniques, making it a very accessible technology. “We’re using the same techniques that you would use if you were screen printing an image on to a T-Shirt,” Dr Jones said.
Solar cells are printed straight onto paper-thin, flexible plastic or steel, and the printer can print a solar cell every two seconds, or 10 metres per minute. By printing directly on building materials such as steel, cells should be able to be embedded in roofing materials.