Solar PV Company Uses 3D Design To Save Time and Money


Solar Infra, a California-based manufacturer of mono and poly-crystalline photovoltaic (PV) modules with a market reach that covers the Americas, Asia and Europe, has chosen 3D design software SolidWorks (UK) as a key development and analysis tool.

The 3D software was used in collaboration with industry partners in the development of solar panels that would increase the reach of clean, renewable energy.

One and half million engineers use SolidWorks software around the world. The software enables engineers to create virtual models of a design concept and simulate its assembly, analyse its performance when in use, analyse its strength, generate engineering data and even produce photo-realistic images of the final design.

The company is distributed and supported by Cambridge-based Innova Systems in the UK. Innova provides training services to help companies adopt the technology more quickly.

Currently, the standard practice is to install solar panels 25 miles inland from the coast to avoid wind, humidity, and salinity exposure. Solar module placement is also limited in the context of deep mountain snows and searing desert temperatures.

Working with Sandia National Laboratories and a DC-to-AC inverter manufacturer, Solar Infra embarked on an effort to revolutionize the solar industry through the development of the Solar Infra AC-Enabled (ACE) solar module, a rugged module system with internal DC-to-AC inversion.

“The first step was choosing a design environment,” said Elise Moss, a mechanical engineer and consultant. “This project required iterations through which my chief scientist and I would create design concepts and work with specialists at Sandia to analyze performance within extreme environments. The SolidWorks integration between CAD and FEA (finite element analysis) was of critical importance to us.”

Mark Bradford, managing director at Innova, said Solar Infra saved time and $100,000 on the development because they could do it all in software. “We have seen many similar project successes in the UK”, he added.

In addition to helping reduce development costs, SolidWorks helped Solar Infra realize manufacturing savings and other business efficiencies. Photorealistic renderings created in SolidWorks software even allowed Solar Infra to begin marketing prior to production.

“They were able to use renderings to create data sheets pre-prototype, which allowed them to seed the market and get the word out on this exciting extension of solar potential. Again, this is a common benefit of using SolidWorks. It is definitely a powerful business tool as well as world leading design tool”, Mr. Bradford added.

Article by Antonio Pasolini, appearing courtesy Justmeans.

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