Specialist Vacuum Coating Development Support for Innovative Flexible Solar Film Manufacturing


Power Roll Ltd (PRL) is an innovative SME clean-tech business based at Jade Business Park in Murton, Co Durham. PRL are involved in the development and commercialisation of Power Roll PV, a low-cost, flexible solar PV film product, based on our unique grooved solar cell design and production process currently under development.

The business has already successfully completed a Proof-of-Concept project to demonstrate the process works, produced some small-scale PV panels, and has had several patents granted.

Having raised further investment, the next stage is to optimise the core processes and prove that it can be scaled up using pilot manufacturing equipment, validating that product on a roll-to-roll basis can be achieved consistently.

Once this objective has been realised, PRL plans to scale-up a PV film manufacturing plant at Jade to create employment and economic development opportunities in the Northeast.


Our unique PV innovation is manufactured by a novel 4 stage process method to produce a low-cost light weight flexible PV film product. There are a number of key steps in the process which all need to be improved to enable the smooth transition from lab scale samples to scaled-up manufacturing of roll-to-roll PV film. This innovation project relates to the second stage of the process, vacuum deposition of materials onto the embossed micro-groove walls on a PET polymer film.

Currently this process uses an e-beam vacuum deposition system to deposit the metal and semi-conductor layers. This is a slow, batch process which is fine for development but not easily scaled up for production purposes. Consequently we have explored several alternative methods of achieving this goal and favour a process called vacuum sputtering, which we wish to pursue with help from an external partner.

The Project – Requirements of the project and deliverables

The need of this project is to work with Innovation Suppliers experienced in this field to develop, scale-up and prove this sputtering process, then design and cost pilot production equipment to make small volumes of roll-to-roll product for early demonstration and sales opportunities.

The project will be broken down into 2 work packages as follows:

WP1 – Thin film deposition process development using vacuum sputtering

WP2 – Design and development of scale-up vacuum sputtering system

The key outcomes for the projects are:

  • To establish and prove a new vacuum deposition methodology to increase processing speeds and lower manufacturing costs of the new PV film.
  • To determine the best process design and equipment to make consistent, high quality PV products
  • To enable the business to successfully scale-up PV film production and provide significant global opportunities to grow the business

This is a key part of the broader process development taking place and being funded by the business and a successful outcome is vital to the overall product development being successful.

How to respond

If you are interested in responding (subject to a signed NDA) please request the Tender Specification from  paul.laidler@powerroll.solar, then develop your proposal based around the criteria provided and submit your response via email (as above) no later than 5pm 12th July 2022.  For any questions regarding this tender opportunity, please contact Paul Laidler by email (as above).

Please include the following in your response:

  • An overview of the company/individual submitting the proposal
  • Detail on how you will deliver the required specification
  • Timescales for development 5-6 months
  • At least 2 examples of relevant work you have carried out
  • Price structure & payment terms

How we will select a provider

We will use the following criteria to select a provider for this work:

Demonstrable expertise within external R&D projects and Vacuum coating processes (Sputtering)40%
Quality of proposal against tender specification20%
Value for money20%
Ability of company/individual10%
Customer service & communication10%

Value for Money, please note the lowest price will attract the highest mark, the next lowest tender will attract the next highest mark, and so on.

Due Diligence Requirements for Providers:

  • NDA to sign before commencement of work
  • Technical specification will only be released to providers who can demonstrate experience in effective development projects centred around the vacuum sputtering process.
  • Sign a contract that ensures that all IP will be sign over to Power Roll Ltd
  • Undertake a PQQ process in line with our funders

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