From Silicon to Tape – a Solar Panel Manufacture’s Change in Thinking
The pursuit for process & product optimization led a Swedish company not only to tesa and ACXplus, but also heralded a “paradigm shift” from liquid glue to double-sided adhesive tapes.
From silicon to tape
The Swedish company Värmebaronen (in English, "The Heating Baron") manufactures products for heating systems for firewood, pellets, and solar energy. Since 2009, the product portfolio of the company with 70 employees also includes the K2 solar panel, whose production rights the company acquired in the same year. Even though the K2 panels function very well, the Värmebaronen team constantly strives to improve its products.
A solar panel is – in a nutshell – a closed box filled with water pipes. The lid consists of a glass plate, and the box must be hermetically sealed. The solar panels are installed outdoor on roofs; thus, they are subjected to considerable strains – such as wind and weather. Winds can be very strong and the glass must withstand forces up to 1000 N per square meter. In the original K2 solar module, the glass was glued to the aluminum profiles of the box with a strong silicone glue. This solution was watertight, but the silicone glue took longer than a day to fully harden. During this time, the sun panels could not be moved.
This hardening time protracted the construction process and caused production bottlenecks. Fredrik Karlsson, the inventor of the K2 solar panel, wanted to change that and had the idea to fix the glass with tape, to be able to move the collector during curing. First, only as an additional measure during the hardening process. But then he designed a new aluminum profile for a wider adhesive tape and ultimately pursued the goal of finding a tape that could permanently fix the glass.
“We sent inquiries to leading tape suppliers and ended up choosing tesa, since the company responded quickly and sent two very experienced employees and as tesa has been active in the solar industry market for many years. After a series of calculations, measurements, and tests, we were sure that we could implement the tape solution and achieve the desired process changes,” says a satisfied Frederik Karlsson.
We chose tesa ACXplus – a tape that holds perfectly, even in the above-mentioned weather conditions. The best thing, however, is the fact that the switch to double-sided adhesive tape has considerably simplified and accelerated the entire production process at Värmebaronen.
Frederik Karlsson draws the following conclusion: “The project showed us the what you can do with tape. It certainly was not the last time we will consider tapes for our products.”