Big  Blue Saw


Starting April 18, 2022, quoting and ordering will begin moving from Big Blue Saw to the Xometry website. You'll continue to be able to get fast service and instant quotes, in addition addition to a whole host of new materials and manufacturing processes!

1336 Technologies is creating the future of energy electric power by reducing the cost of solar cells. A large portion of the cost of solar cells comes from the cost of the silicon wafers needed for their manufacture. And 1336 Technologies has figured out a way to reduce the cost of silicon wafers by a whopping 60%.

Big Blue Saw recently helped 1336 Technologies with a few waterjet and laser cut parts for their process control systems. Holly Gates, Principal Engineer, recently wrote to us about the parts shown in the image above.

The instruments with the pogo pins and magnetic retention (which we also design and make) are for measuring process parameters inside our >1400C silicon solar wafer making machines. There are many of them on a single furnace, and they need to be easily removed for cleaning and recalibration. Hence the pogo pin and magnetic coupling: each instrument can be removed and replaced quickly without connectors or fasteners. In past versions we did the magnetic retention with a magnet glued into the baseboard but this had some issues and was tedious to assemble. The new design flips all the components on the baseboard to the inner side for better environmental protection and uses the 400 series stainless plate on the outside for mechanical shielding, earth grounding, and to act as the magnetic target.
Why is this important? 

1366 has developed a technology for making solar wafers directly from molten silicon. The usual process uses a string of machines to melt silicon chunks, solidify a block, then saw up the block. That method wastes about half the silicon as non-recoverable sawdust carried in slurry. Our process results in a wafer at almost half the cost of the standard process, and presents unique opportunities for pushing efficiency higher in ways not possible with sawing. The solar market right now is about 15 billion wafers/year and growing rapidly.

Gates has a few tips for finishing the (special order) 400 series stainless plates.
For finishing waterjet parts, here is what I do:
- countersink for flat head screws (which I love, but are viewed with righteous hatred by my mechanical engineer colleagues). Nothing says you did it right like perfectly countersunk flat heads. On the other hand you feel like an idiot full of hubris when something needs to be scootched a little or doesn't align perfectly and you can't adjust it :)
- orbital sand all sides with 220 grit paper
- scotch brite pad edges and surfaces which will be visible
- wash with simple green and hot water, dry
- spray with metal cleaner/protector

Gates also commended Big Blue Saw's work.

Thanks for the great service. Having BBS around lowers the barrier to doing projects to test new ideas to such a degree that I have launched many more of them than I could before. The online quote/order system, low prices with material included, and short lead time is a breath of fresh air compared to the traditional quote back and forth, PO order, high minimum pricing, and lengthy and unpredictable lead time seen at regular shops. I really want your business to succeed because now BBS seems like an indispensable tool in my kit! 

Check out 1336 Technologies website, or follow them @1366tech on Twitter or 1336 Technologies on Facebook.



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