OTB Group is a privately owned company in Eindhoven with close links to Philips and other local companies active in printed and thin film electronics. We met Dr Paul A Breddels, CEO recruited from the LCD industry and Chris Boomaars, CEO of his incubator division OTB Engineering which covers:
- New developments
- POPs & Prototype
- Supporting other BUs
- Car glazing
- Injection moulding
- Vacuum deposition
The other divisions are OTB Solar working on inline solar-cell production equipment and anti-reflection deposition tools; OTB Display dealing with inline display equipment for SMOLED and OLED and PixDro covering development of high accuracy industrial print heads, print strategy software and print.
Although OTB, with 220 employees, has done some product design, such as LED lighting units, the priority is innovative process development marketed as highly sophisticated production and development equipment. To boost these efforts, OTB has bought the PolyLED division of Philips in OLED technology and PixDro in inkjet printers. Growing, global markets are the priority where unique capabilities can be leveraged, so the development and sale of CD making equipment was sold off some years ago when its markets saturated. The joint venture attempting to make OLEDs for sale, Orgatronic, was shut down when the market failed to develop.
The technical virtuosity of this company is awesome. 25% of employees are PhDs. It has these remarkable facilities:
- Plasma lab
- Chemical lab
- Display lab
- Ophthalmic lab
- Inkjet printing lab
Process verification laboratory:
- Scanning electron microscope
- Fourier transforming IR spectroscopy
The solar production machines can be 70 meters long, the line being its own clean room partly thanks to Linear Motion System's (LMS) design where the motion is created from outside using a product carrier with a passive magnet plate, driven by static coils. The coils and magnet plate are servo controlled and capable of through wall servo actuation and sensing. This permits use for transport in vacuum and non vacuum and the company offers vacuum systems where all electronic and electric parts outside of vacuum with no feed throughs.
These lines cost more than Euros 12 million. Sunpower has achieved record efficiency with the cells by using OTB's anti reflection deposition technology.
Technologies mastered by OTB include RF sputtering, screen and inkjet printing, plasma enhanced vapour deposition (DC and RF/ Si, SiNx and Diamond like Carbon DLC), evaporation, spin coating, various dispensing systems and injection moulding. aSi and CIS (including CIGS) processes are being researched with a view to making appropriate state of the art production machinery for the next generation of photovoltaics but it is clear that conventional silicon photovoltaics will be around for ten years or more, the new solar technologies opening up additional markets in the main rather than competing head on with silicon. OTB finds that the photovoltaic market is now progressing very rapidly.
A common theme at OTB is providing integrated in line production to improve on today's batch processing of photovoltaics or OLEDs on glass. Objectives include:
- Minimizing process steps and operator intervention
- Production equipment dedicated for a small group of products / process
- Balancing and reducing of tact times
- Elimination of buffers
- Integration in one machine
- Fast feed back loops enabled by short throughput times
80% of the sales today are for production machinery for crystalline silicon photovoltaics sold to India, Spain, the Philippines and Germany for example. These machines produce photovoltaics of 15% efficiency for polysilicon and 16.5% efficiency for single crystal silicon.
Ink jet is a particular priority as it is the most popular way of making the new generation of thin film electrics and electronics. The PixDro acquisition has led to piezo printing using MEMS heads with individual nozzle control and unusual tolerance of a wide range of acidity and even very low viscosity inks (1m pass). However, it is a matter of using the right equipment for the right job and the OTB work bringing the Thin Film Electronics printed ferroelectric memories to market employs Xaar inkjet.
On a speculative basis, an OLED line based on 14 inch by 14 inch glass and SiN protection has been made ie there is no need for a second layer of glass forming a sandwich. Output is 30/hour and both large and small molecule OLEDs can be produced. Such lines may cost over Euros 24 million and the technology is rapidly evolving but OTB is determined to be at the forefront. The in line polymer production system is shown below:
OTB Group B.V.
Luchthavenweg 10, 5657 EB Eindhoven
P.O. Box 7005, 5605 JA Eindhoven, The Netherlands
phone +31 (0) 40 2581 581 fax +31 (0) 40 2548 921
And for futher information on photovoltaics attend Photovoltaics Beyond Conventional Silicon.