Cycle Times

STR is able to provide the guidance, to help you get the most out of your laminators. STR can provide "starter" cycles that have been proven effective, but because lamination equipment varies depending on manufacturer, age, or materials used, the only way to get the most out of your process is to go through an optimization exercise. This is an iterative process requiring a time and materials commitment, but the productivity gains in the end usually far outweigh the initial costs.

Step one is to map out your current process. We're looking to see how long it takes to reach a full vacuum or what temperature the encapsulant is at during various stages. When optimizing a cycle it is important to capture the temperature between the encapsulant sheets and behind the cells.



Minimize the Evacuation

Once the temperature of the module has come up enough to melt the encapsulant (refer to the Technical Data Sheet for recommended processing guidelines) it's safe to apply the press—as long as all the air has been evacuated. For most systems a three to four minute evacuation is adequate. Because the modules bow away from the platen, very little heat gets transferred to the encapsulant during this stage. Thus the single easiest way to trim time off a lamination cycle is to work to get the press on as quickly as possible. Look for small "champagne" bubbles near the edges of the module. These can be an indication that the evacuation wasn't long enough or the encapsulant had melted too much before full vacuum was reached


Maximize the Temperature

STR's exclusive User-Friendly (UF) process removes most of the stress inherent in an extrusion process before the material reaches our customer's plants, resulting in negligible shrinkage of the encapsulant. This allows for much higher lamination temperatures (and shorter cycle times) without fear of cell shifting or voids within the laminate. We recommend starting at 145°C and increasing in 5 degree increments up to 165° or 170°C. Look for bubbles along the ribbon—a sign that too much flux is present or a different flux with lower residuals may be needed.

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