As more prismatic battery cell makers such as Samsung SDI, CATL, Svolt and Northvolt moves to use stacking method instead of winding for their production, more orders for notching equipment are being placed.
Notching equipment is used to make anode and cathode tabs in material materials. It was previously used mostly for pouch-type batteries. Prismatic batteries meanwhile used the jelly roll method to wrap the anode, separator, cathode and other materials together, up until now.
Equipment makers Philoptics, Mplus and Lead China are winning more orders for their notching equipment from prismatic cell makers. Mplus was supplying those for Svolt, while Philoptics was supply theirs to Samsung SDI and Lead China to CATL. Each are supplying dozens. One production line needs them in even numbers from two units to four units paired together.
The notching equipment is placed in the line right after the copper and aluminum foils are attached. It is the first step in the assembly process to make the cells into products. Most prismatic battery makers didn’t require the equipment as they rolled their materials in a roll and put it in a can.
But in a prismatic cell, it is impossible for vendors to fill up the can completely. There is always spare space. This causes swelling with repeated charges. Folding the materials into the can, much like it is done for pouch-type batteries, allows for higher energy density per charge.
But productivity with notching is lower than in the jelly roll method, so it requires a high-tech notching and stacking equipment. The equipment must make tabs fast and fold them precisely together.
Notching equipment is easy to apply in assembly line, but it is costly. One unit costs around 1 billion won. Press-type notching equipment also requires the metal blade to be switched continuously with use, burdening batter makers with price. Philoptic’s notching equipment uses laser that doesn’t require as stringent a maintenance but costs approximately 3 billion won per unit.
“As more prismatic battery makers apply new processes such as the stacking method in their production, there will be more orders for notching equipment,” a person familiar with the matter said. “Notching equipment is placed right next to the stacking equipment, so there is move by equipment makers to supply two of them together.”