The company, 1366 Technologies, said this time is different.
1366 opened a $6 million pilot plant in Bedford Wednesday, financed completely by private investors, and executives said they won’t tap taxpayer money until they prove the company’s technology and products can succeed in a fiercely competitive industry increasingly dominated by low-cost Chinese manufacturers.
“Of all the companies that are out there, 1366 has a chance of survival,” said Toor, who attended the company’s plant opening, but “There is a sense of caution, given all the history, given all the baggage that the solar industry is carrying right now.”
Named for Earth’s solar constant – the rate at which energy reaches the planet’s surface from the sun – 1366 Technologies was founded in 2007 to commercialize technology initially developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The 1366 technology uses about half the silicon of traditional wafer-making while cutting plant, equipment, and labor costs by about one-third, according to Emanuel “Ely” Sachs, the company’s chief technical officer.
In the company’s machine lab, a worker used a lathe to make parts for one of the furnaces that 1366 Technologies uses to make wafers.
In that vein, 1366 Technologies built its Bedford plant, which will be capable of making roughly 6 million wafers a year, using money raised from in