High Performance
Steel Module Frames

Why does it matter if solar module frames are made of steel or aluminum?

Simultaneously addressing the energy transition and climate crisis requires massive growth of solar infrastructure. To achieve this at scale, the solar industry faces three critical issues:

  • Supply chain risks due to reliance on imported components
  • Unnecessary embodied carbon
  • Reduced system performance exacerbated by increasing module sizes and more common extreme weather events

The module frame is the second most costly component and a critical element of a solar module. It protects the essential energy producing components (cells) of the PV module and securely connects to essential steel support structures. By producing frames domestically, eliminating over 90% of frame-related GHG emissions, and providing superior strength and durability versus aluminum alternatives, Origami steel module frames deliver superior value and solve all three industry concerns.

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Origami Solar’s commercial-ready frames are available for module company evaluation and testing and meet or exceed the following test standards:
Static Mechanical Load Testing per IEC 61215, required to validate essential frame strength.
Salt Spray Corrosion Testing per IEC 61707, Method 6, required to validate essential corrosive durability.
Grounding and Bonding Testing per UL 2703, required to validate steel frame electrical continuity with racking structures.
Origami Solar steel solar module frame
Superior performance from Origami Solar module frames img

Reframing Performance

Although solar technology has transformed over the last 20 years, the module frame remains largely unchanged. Replacing aluminum frames with Origami Solar’s patented, roll-formed steel frame improves the performance of the entire module by protecting module glass and solar cells from damage. Higher performing Origami steel frames reduce installation breakage and cell cracks that reduce energy production and increase O&M costs over the life of a project. Origami’s steel frames made from recycled steel are designed to meet or exceed aluminum performance, comply with current frame dimensions, while providing a seamless transition into current module manufacturing and installation procedures.

Using the IEC 61215 methodology for load testing, Origami Solar’s steel frames achieve passing results with test scenarios that represent the highest level of mechanical load test expectations for utility-scale modules. Origami’s exceptional test results allow module makers to move immediately into industry certification tests with confidence and lead to better real-world field performance that their customers require.

Origami Solar steel frames comply with the robust IEC 61707, Method 6 Salt Spray corrosion test, showing passing results synonymous with challenging (C5) coastal environments. By incorporating industry proven zinc-aluminum-magnesium (Z-A-M) anti-corrosive coatings, Origami Solar’s recycled steel frames perform significantly better than galvanized steel and resist corrosion equal to or better than aluminum module frames.

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Essential Decarbonization

Producing 1 GW of virgin extruded aluminum frames in China releases 173,500 tons of almost entirely unnecessary carbon (GHG) emissions and works against the decarbonization goals of solar projects. Transitioning from foreign aluminum to domestic steel frames eliminates over 90% of frame-related carbon emissions, leading to massive decarbonization gains and helping create a more valuable and decarbonized solar industry.

For additional details on the decarbonization impact of transitioning to recycled steel frames, please review the Origami Solar Environmental Impact Report, independently produced by Boundless Impact Research & Analytics, referenced below.

Steel is among the earth’s most prevalent materials, available in every region and infinitely recyclable. Every continent on planet earth has a robust steel industry and ecosystem. Frames made from recycled steel are as strong as frames made from virgin materials. When a frame has reached the end of its useful life, steel is 100 percent recyclable for a new use.

Recycled steel is far less carbon-intensive to produce. That is why every GW shifting to steel would save 173,500 metric tons of carbon emissions per year. That’s the same as taking 37,717 cars off the road. For an industry committed to delivering clean energy, the switch from aluminum to steel frames delivers a dramatic decarbonization benefit and is the obvious procurement choice for solar developers and investors.

90%+ GHG emissions reduction chart img
Saving 173,500 metric tons of carbon per year is equivalent to 37,717 passenger cars not driving for a year img
Roll formed steel frame manufacturing img
Superior performance from Origami Solar module frames img

Domestic Derisked Supply Chain

Origami Solar’s domestic supply chain is designed to be secure, reliable, and efficient while eliminating all the risks associated with shipping from overseas suppliers. In today’s world logistics delays and related cost increases are becoming the norm. By working with best-in-class roll-formed steel fabricators, with manufacturing locations distributed across the United States, Origami Solar provides module manufacturers with multiple delivery points and 1-2 day delivery. Origami Solar’s supply chain is 100% transparent and auditable, and uses reuseable shipping containers, eliminating pallets and other supply chain waste.

Origami Solar is ready to meet the needs of the rapidly expanding domestic module manufacturing industry in the United States and Europe. With high-speed manufacturing capacity coming online in multiple locations in late 2024 and expanding rapidly in 2025, Origami Solar is prepared to supply the industry’s demand for best-in-class steel module frames.

Are you ready to make the switch to steel module frames?