BOULDER, Colo., Feb. 23, 2009 — Addressing the global need for efficient, economic renewable energy, imaging Technology international(iTi) Corporation today announced iTi Solar, an equipment manufacturing division established to advance the development of precision industrial inkjet systems that enable solar cell producers to improve production efficiency and reduce manufacturing costs .
Environmental and global warming concerns along with issues of national security and energy independence are driving increased interest and investment in solar and other sources of natural, renewable energy. High materials and manufacturing costs are a key barrier to the broad adoption of solar energy, making it more expensive than traditional energy sources. Inkjet is emerging as a key enabling application printing technology that advances manufacturing processes and the production of highly efficient, low cost solar cells for both silicon-based and next generation thin-film photovoltaic cells.
"Harnessing solar power efficiently and at a reasonable cost requires significant breakthroughs in cost and performance versus traditional solar cell manufacturing technologies," said Dr. Harry Zervos, technology analyst at IDTechEx, a leading research firm. "Inkjet fabrication is in an enviable position as it can be applied to today's technologies as well as to the solar technologies of tomorrow. With its advantage of efficiently applying materials onto a variety of flexible and rigid substrates, we believe inkjet fabrication is one of the key enabling technologies for driving substantial solar cell manufacturing cost and energy conversion efficiencies."
Inkjet printing of flexible and rigid thin-film photovoltaic solar cells offers a way to manufacture solar cells at a fraction of the cost of present day technologies. Glass, ceramic, printed circuit boards, and thicker plastics are examples of rigid substrates that can support thin-film technology and are less expensive than silicon, although flexible substrates offer the biggest cost improvement opportunities. Inkjet fabrication techniques, combined with thin-film photovoltaics, provide significant advantages compared with leading silicon alternatives. Inkjet systems minimize materials usage and waste through the use of non-contact, digitally-controlled and additive applications, increasing manufacturing efficiencies and reducing costs. In addition, the non-contact nature of inkjet deposition results in less damage to materials, minimizing waste while offering compatibility with a wide array of higher-efficiency substrate materials.
In its February 2009 report, IDTechEx estimates that the market for thin-film photovoltaics will reach $10 billion in 2012 and $17 billion by 2014.
"iTi Corporation is leveraging our extensive inkjet experience and patented technologies with the formation of iTi Solar to become an integral part of the new energy economy in Colorado," said Bruce Morgan , chief executive officer, iTi Corporation. "Previously, solar cell manufacturers have shown interest in adding inkjet technologies to their processes, but the intricacies of inkjet have made it difficult to implement successfully. With our proven track record and knowledge of how to make inkjet processes effective and economical, our solar division will enable solar cell producers to advance their manufacturing technologies and make their products more affordable."
Lower cost, flexible thin-film photovoltaic cells are suitable for applying solar panels to many surfaces including roof shingles, siding, tinted windows, cell phones, notebook computers and cars. Thin-film solar panels, using inkjet technologies, can be "printed" onto rolled backing, eliminating many of the highly energy- and chemical-intensive processes that are typical in conventional solar cell manufacturing.
"iTi has a long history of partnering with best-in-class providers to deliver turnkey solutions to industrial markets, and iTi Solar will continue that practice," said Dr. Ross Mills, chief technology officer, iTi Corporation. "We're pleased that iTi Solar will be announcing a number of key partnerships with suppliers, researchers and solar cell manufacturers this coming year."
iTi Solar's Inkjet Materials Deposition Systems are currently being used for solar research by a number of labs throughout the world, including the University of New South Wales in Australia and Printed Electronics, Ltd in Cambridge, England.
About iTi Solar
iTi Solar, a division of imaging Technology international (iTi) Corporation, has been established to advance the economics of clean, renewable energy through the use of industrial inkjet technologies. iTi Solar develops precision industrial inkjet systems for use in the manufacturing of efficient, low-cost solar cells. Inkjet technologies combined with flexible, thin film substrates have the potential to significantly reduce solar cell manufacturing costs, producing solar energy that cost less than today's traditional energy sources such as hydro electric power, coal, oil and gas. iTi Solar's vision is to develop new technologies for printheads and nanomaterials that will revolutionize the solar cell market. Information about iTi Solar is available at www.itisolar.com and www.iticorp.com.
About iTi Corp
imaging Technology international (iTi) Corporation is recognized as a worldwide expert in high precision industrial inkjet systems. It has a 17-year record of innovation, developing and manufacturing inkjet deposition and printing equipment for applications ranging from pure research to large-scale manufacturing. iTi's Lab2FabSM family of products include a comprehensive range of inkjet development tools and production systems. iTi's customer base includes leading printhead suppliers, ink manufacturers, universities, research institutes and Fortune 500 industrial inkjet users. Information about iTi is available at www.iticorp.com.