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Author Archives: Bent River Machine

  1. Anatomy of a Solar Panel

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    Solar panels are an important source of renewable power, taking the sun’s energy and converting it into usable electricity. Generally, these photovoltaic (PV) panels or modules have a metal frame and a glass casing over a semiconductor material like silicon.

    When sunlight hits the surface of these modules, photons of light release electrons from the semiconductor material layers, generating electricity in the form of direct current (DC). The wiring within the panels collects energy from this PV process, and an inverter transforms the DC current into alternating current (AC) for immediate or future use. In this blog, we’ll discuss the various layers and materials that make up the anatomy of a solar panel, their function, and how they generate electricity.

    Inside Solar Panel Anatomy

    To better understand their interiors, picture solar panel layers as a cross-section of a sandwich. The external layers or “bread slices” are made up of protective glass and polymer sheets that insulate a panel’s interior from the elements. Typically, you’ll find a thin cell layer of crystalline silicon between these sheets, as well as layers of charged materials that, together, make up the sandwich “filling.” Encapsulant, typically EVA, acts much like “mayo,” bonding the top sheet, silicon cell, and backsheet together. An aluminum frame binds all the layers together into a single panel.

    Different Layers of a Solar Panel

    Inside a solar panel, there are individual solar cells — typically 60, 72, or 90 in all — of layered silicon, phosphorus, and boron. Each of these three materials plays an important role. A wafer of silicon serves as the semiconductor. The phosphorous has a negative charge, while the boron’s charge is positive. As photons in sunlight excite a solar panel’s surface layers, electrons release throughout its interior layers, producing the electrical field for energy generation through the separation of these opposing charges.

    Solar Panel Backsheets vs. Top Sheets

    Solar panels incorporate backsheets and top sheets, as follows:

    • Backsheets. Backsheets are polymer-based layers that sit at the back of a solar panel; they’re the bottom piece of bread in the solar panel sandwich. The backsheets provide a protective barrier between the internal circuitry of the panel and the environmental conditions that could otherwise damage it.
    • Top sheets. Historically, top sheets were made of glass, but companies are experimenting with various materials to protect the internal cells from the elements. A wide array of top sheet structure options are available, depending on the necessary strength and related requirements of the application.

    Solar Panel Encapsulants

    Various encapsulants can be chosen for your lamination based on the requirements of the application: optical clarity, electrical insulation, mechanical strength, insulation and protection of the silicon cell, and environment. EVA has been the most common encapsulant in the PV solar industry, but many others are gaining popularity.

    OEM Contract Manufacturing for Solar Panels by Bent River

    All the elements inside of a solar panel work together to effectively generate clean energy. By partnering with a contract manufacturer with an in-depth understanding of the anatomy of a solar panel, you help ensure that your completed modules utilize the right materials, layers, and structural designs to suit the needs of your application and optimize performance.

    The team at Bent River Machine can help guide you through the production process. Since 1978, our company has offered design and engineering, fabrication and manufacturing, and mechanical and electrical assembly services to deliver high-quality product solutions. Our contract manufacturing and lamination services allow us to efficiently create terrestrial or extraterrestrial solar panels. We also contract with clients in need of lamination assistance in the commercial, medical, defense, technology, and semiconductor markets, among others.

    Making anything from prototypes and parts to sub-assemblies and turnkey products, we aim to be your single-source provider for OEM contract manufacturing, systems integration, automation solutions, and factory tooling. We also complete manufacturing assessments and offer an array of value-added services such as procurement and subcontracting through our network of vetted component and service providers.

    To discover the Bent River difference, request a quote and speak with one of our representatives about our solar panel fabrication capabilities today.

  2. James M. Lyon

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    During the past ten plus years I have had the pleasure of doing a lot of projects with Bent River Machine. These projects ranged from simple to major dollar tooling projects and included design and fabrication (turnkey) tooling. Their turnaround from quotes to a quality finished product is excellent. Bent River’s personnel are very knowledgeable and friendly.

  3. Bent River Machine Owner Tells Company Story

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    Bent River Machine is nestled up in the mountains of Northern Arizona and has worked hard to earn a name for themselves in the tooling and machining world. Learn more about this woman owned, customer-centric company in a brief 20 min audio recording from a recent radio interview with Small Business America.

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    As you found out in the audio interview, Bent River provides a variety of services and some products as well to their clients. If you would like to learn more about custom  automation , custom tooling, OEM Manufacturing or maybe you need a handler or a solar panel laminator, get in touch with the team at Bent River. Call 928-863-3850 to talk to an expert about your project.

  4. Bent River Machine Is Proud To Support Our Community During The Unique Challenges Posed By The Covid 19 Pandemic

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    Using the Badger Shield open source face shield design (link to instructions: Bent River has been building and sending out face shields to local entities at the forefront of the covid-19 response.

    So far with the help of our wonderful employees, volunteers, and suppliers we have built and distributed over a 1000 face shields. We are proud to have supplied 260 to LCMC Nursing of Winslow, 500 to Tuba City Regional Healthcare Center, 180 to Winslow Indian Health Care Center, and smaller amounts to several other healthcare entities in Cottonwood.

    Please join us in not only thanking all those on the front lines of the covid-19 battle, but also in doing whatever small part you can in helping in the fight!

    Covid-19 Face ShieldsCovid-19 Face Shields
  5. Allen Bradley And Bent River Machine

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    The early 20th Century is full of amazing success stories. Stories of huge companies springing from humble origins, and people gaining huge amounts of wealth, fill the pages of the early 1900’s. One of these true American success stories is that of the Allen Bradley Company.

    Allen-Bradley was founded in Dr. Stanton Allen and Lynde Bradley in 1903, with an initial investment of only $1,000. The company proceeded to survive through the great depression and boom during World War Two with its high quality industrial controls and electrical components. After that Allen-Bradley grew and advanced tremendously. In 1985 it was acquired by Rockwell International. Today Allen-Bradley is considered, by many, to be at the forefront of automation. Their control systems are viewed as the highest quality.

    Allen-Bradley is one of many inspiring stories of companies which have grown into incredible examples of success. As previously mentioned Allen-Bradley started with an investment of only one-thousand dollars, by the time it was acquired by Rockwell International its sales were over one billion dollars a fiscal year.

    Bent River Machine is very proud to announce that we are part of the Rockwell Automation OEM Program.


    This means that we are committed to using Allen Bradley products when it can best fulfill our customer’s needs. Also, because we are a Rockwell OEM Partner we have access to technical assistance, engineering consultations, and other tools offered through the program, to ensure that our customers receive the absolute best quality possible.

    To learn more about our OEM manufacturing and Tooling services visit our website for more information.

  6. The Bent River Machine Engineering Department

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    “Engineering is the art of organizing and directing men and controlling the forces and materials of nature for the benefit of the human race.” Henry G. Scott.

    In the last two centuries the field engineering has invented technologies that have greatly improved not only the standard of living but advanced our societies immensely. In 1893 Charles and Frank Duryea invented the first gas powered automobile; in 1834 Jacob Perkins invented the first practical refrigerator using a vapor compression cycle, to name just two examples of a nearly infinite list of engineering marvels. There is no doubt that engineering is responsible for our great technologies and many of the benefits we enjoy today.


    At Bent River Machine we are very proud to be able to contribute to the great field of engineering through our excellent engineering department.

    The Bent River Machine engineering department begins our manufacturing process by coming up with creative ideas and concepts for proposals tailored to meet our customers’ exact needs. After the customer accepts the proposal, the engineering department designs the equipment, which is completely distinctive to each project. Our engineering department is skilled in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, controls/software engineering, and the generation of technical documentation such as technical manuals and service manuals.

    Our engineering department is large enough to competently handle sophisticated projects, yet small enough to be very responsive to our customer’s needs. Five qualified engineers make up our engineering department, specializing in coming up with innovative, cost effective, custom equipment for each of our individual projects. In Bent River Machine’s specialization of custom factory automation our team focuses on our customer’s requests to insure that they end up with the best solution possible, versus selling standard equipment that is not ideal for our customers.

    The Bent River Engineering team is proud to be an Allen Bradley Control Systems partner. All of our mechanical designs are done in ProEngineer, and we use Radica Electra to generate all of our schematics.

    If you have any questions for our engineers please take advantage of our Ask an Engineer Service.

    Let our engineering department help you bring your ideas to life, and maybe, we can reinvent the world together.

  7. Medical Technology and Manufacturing

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    Recently huge innovations have been made in the development of advanced medical technologies, many of which are due to the melding of our ever advancing technology and amazing discoverers in field of healthcare. A few years ago the idea of giving sight to the permanently blind was considered impossible, or a miracle, but today stem cells are allowing people to gain eyesight, thought to be lost forever! And that is just one example of the amazing advancements occurring today.

    But what exactly does the world of engineering, and precision machining have to do with these exciting advancements? Quite a bit actually, recently extensive progress has been made in neuroprosthetics, transplants into neurons that repair damage done by accidents or trauma, due to development in the technological field of advance bionics.

    Bent River Machine is proud to have assisted several companies in developing new technologies that will further the treatments and function of the medical field, especially in the subdivision of American Medical Technology. Medical precision products require a level of accuracy and quality that our team has had extensive training with. Our machinists perform to a high level of accuracy, and are expected to attain perfection in exactitude.  Our team has been in and out of hospitals and other medical and research facilities testing, and implementing custom medical tooling, for years. Bent River has also modified their various Jedec Tray Handlers and AUER  Boat Handlers to have medical applicability.

    Jedec Tray Handler

    One of the medical projects we have been privileged to work on took us in an operating room with the chief surgeon of a prominent hospital, during a time when the operating room was not in use. We were studying space constraints, ergonomics, and critical accessories vital to the level of perfection needed by a surgeon. The experience was very instructive to our team and we feel much more confident in our ability to create a product to meet the medical needs of a hospital team, because of the opportunity.

    At Bent River Machine we are proud to offer world class manufacturing solutions for your success, especially if you need assistance in the development of new medical technological advancements.

  8. Helping Aurinco Reshore How Bent River Played A part

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    What is Reshoring?

    Reshoring is a term for a business bringing their manufacturing back to the United States from overseas, in other words it is the opposite of offshoring.

    Who is Aurinco?

    Aurinco is a company that manufactures solar panels for sailboats. Their products allow sailboat owners to have a renewable source of green power instead of using a generator. With the high prices of gas today more and more sailboat owners are realizing the benefits of having solar panels on their boats.

    Laminator Reshoring Aurinco

    The owner of Aurinco, Patrik Swanljung , had been manufacturing in China for several years. Recently he started to look for a way to bring his manufacturing back to the United States. He was frustrated in his effort because he could not find a way to laminate his solar panels.

    In the summer of 2012 Mr. Swanljung, contacted and later visited Bent River Machine to look into the Solar Laminators Bent River builds. After some investigation Patrick discovered that Bent River’s solar laminators would allow him to reshore his bussiness by providing him a way to laminate his solar panels.

    Today Aurinco is in the final stages of reshoring their business and soon the company’s manufacturing will be completely in the United States. If you are interested in Aurinco’s products please visit their website.

    How can Bent River Machine help you reshore?

    Bent River Machine is very committed to helping companies’ ether reshore or begin manufacturing in the United States.

    Reshoring Aurinco

    We specialize in designing and manufacturing innovative technology that allows you to optimize your production potential and ensure your success. Our team of experienced engineers can design revolutionary new technology to aid you in production or find new processes to maximize your full manufacturing potential.

    If you are interested in our solar panel laminators please feel free to reach out to our friendly staff or give us a call at 928.634.7568.