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HIGHLINE – saving silver is worth gold

The High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) and the Fraunhofer Technologie Transferfonds GmbH (FTTF) are investing in the deeptech startup HighLine Technology GmbH. HighLine develops high-precision printing technology for the semiconductor industry with a current focus on solar cells. The seed investment amounts to EUR 1.2 million and is contributed equally by the HTGF and FTTF.

“The use of solar energy represents a central pillar of the future energy supply. However, scaling the corresponding PV systems also brings with it the challenge of handling the resources used even more carefully. Silver, in particular, which has so far been used for the conductor tracks on the cells, represents a major cost item in the manufacture of solar cells. Accordingly, PV manufacturers and other semiconductor industries are looking for more efficient printing processes to apply the appropriate media. Our parallel dispensing technology enables significant process optimization in terms of silver consumption, cell and module efficiency and production throughput, ”says Dr. Maximilian Pospischil, co-founder and managing director of HighLine.

The HighLine technology enables high-precision printing of demanding media such as conductive silver pastes in the PV industry. With solar cells, the surface can be metallized in one pass, which enables a higher throughput than with established competitive processes. Furthermore, more than 20% silver can be saved and the efficiency of the solar cell can be increased. For quick market entry, HighLine has developed a solution for integration into existing screen printing systems. This means that existing production lines of established system manufacturers can be equipped with the new printing technology in a short time. A corresponding demonstrator can currently be seen in the PVTEC laboratory of Fraunhofer ISE.

So far, within the framework of the EXIST research transfer and the PreSeed financing by the FTTF and L-Bank BW, the technology has been further developed towards industrial maturity.

“The technological advances achieved in the pre-seed phase and the positive feedback from well-known customers and partners confirm the clear business case of Highline, so I’m looking forward to the next steps for market entry,” adds Tobias Schwind (Managing Partner at FTTF).

“We made great progress in development in 2020 and, thanks to this financing round, together with our industrial partners, we can introduce the technology to the PV market in 2021 via a field test. This means that the market entry takes place in parallel with the current revival of the PV industry in Europe, ”explains Marian Breitenbücher, co-founder and managing director of HighLine.

“Dispensing technology offers very short ROI for solar cell manufacturers and therefore has the potential to displace established screen printing in the medium term. In my opinion, the technical level already achieved and the strengths of the team form an excellent basis for a successful and sustainable market launch, ”says Olaf Joeressen (Investment Manager at High-Tech Gründerfonds).

About HighLine:
HighLine Technology GmbH is a spin-off from Fraunhofer ISE in Freiburg and develops high-precision printing technologies. HighLine has been operational since the beginning of 2020 and with its 11 employees has competencies in the areas of construction, process and software development. HighLine uses the high-end laboratory environment of the PVTEC laboratory (Fraunhofer ISE). In cooperation with established automation manufacturers, HighLine develops efficient printing technologies and processes for the semiconductor industry.

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