As the global demand for photovoltaic (PV) generated power increases, so does the need for PV manufacturing equipment. It is not a race to bring the technology to market. It is a race for cost-effective volume production. The timely introduction of capable manufacturing equipment and the support infrastructure is critical for rapid growth.Companies are adopting technologies from industries, such as photonics, flat panel display and semiconductor to bring to market PV manufacturing equipment solutions. These technologies include motion platforms, lasers, optics and optomechanics. These components are integrated into proven high volume capital equipment that is used to build turnkey systems for various processes such as edge isolation and isolation scribing. Several components are common to the manufacturing of all solar cells. These include motion control and motion platforms for moving products within a process step, lasers and beam delivery optics for material processing, and light sources for testing the output and efficiency of solar cells. Motion Platforms The motion control and motion platform requirements for processing solar cells and panels are strikingly similar to those of other industries. Existing motion control and platforms in a variety of form factors and sizes provide a cost effective solution for material movement in PV manufacturing. As examples, most silicon based solar cells are 100 to 150 mm with some solar cell manufacturers looking to produce cells up to 200 mm. This form factor requires motion platforms similar to those used in the semiconductor and microelectronics industry. Requirements for material handing of large thin film panels fall within the size of motion platforms used in the flat panel display industry. In addition to size, other critical parameters of existing motion platforms, such as accuracy and speed, match the requirements of manufacturing equipment for solar cells and panels. These platforms provide a readily available source for material movement and are well suited for use in PV manufacturing processes such as isolation scribing of thin film solar panels Sophisticated motion control systems are used in laser scribing equipment in order to achieve high accuracy for handling cells and panels. High accuracy is important for silicon solar cells because the location of the scribe line contributes to cell surface area and efficiency. Scribing as closely as possible to the edge frees up valuable surface “real estate” for exposure to the sun. Thin film panels are scribed to segment and link the panel into many individual cells. Typically a three scribe pattern is used to isolate and interconnect cells. The area used for the three scribe lines does not contribute to power generation so it is necessary to scribe the lines as closely together as possible. Precision motion control and a stable platform maintain line spacing across the large panel. High accuracy is achieved through careful platform design. The selection of materials and components contribute to overall accuracy. Granite and engineered composites are used for stability and vibration damping. Thermally matched components allow for accuracy to be maintained despite environment or process temperature changes. Encoders, linear motors and programmable motion control systems provide for fast and precise motions. Laser and Optics The principle of laser processing is straight forward. A laser beam is focused and used for material removal, a process known as ablation. This is commonly referred to as micromachining. The laser must be selected to match specific properties (absorption, melting temperature, thermal diffusivity, etc.) of the material being processed. Pulsed lasers remove material by ablating very small regions with each pulse. Given a certain spot size, the pulse repetition rate can be controlled so that the pulses are overlapped and create a continuous line of scribed material. The repetition rate is determined by considering the interrelationship between the laser and material properties. The parameters of the laser include power, wavelength, pulse length, absorption coefficient and stability. Together these characteristics and parameters determine the quality and speed of material removal. It is important to deliver optimum power density for fast laser scribing without causing damage to the adjacent material. Considering process requirements, reliability, stability, serviceability and cost of operation, diode-pumped lasers are the usual choice for PV laser scribing.