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New system reduces racking and installation costs of current systems by 33 percent
CLEVELAND – Acme Express Inc., a Cleveland-based, technology development company, has
been awarded a $1-million Small Business Innovation Research grant funded by the U.S.
Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office. The grant will enable Acme to
research and develop Roll-A-Rack, a new patent-pending solar-panel racking system that reduces racking and installation costs of traditional systems by 33 percent.

Similar to rain gutters, which are formed and cut on demand, roll-form machines will produce
custom solar racking on site and on demand. The single-component Roll-A-Rack is significantly
simpler than today’s multicomponent racking systems, which require pre-ordering, shipping,
inventory and assembly.

Acme Express will use the grant to test and refine Roll-A-Rack. Additional research includes
efficiency refinements, high-wind pressure testing and proof of an anticipated 25-year service

“This will change the way solar panels are installed throughout the industry, making solar energy
far more accessible and affordable,” said Don Scipione, president of Acme Express.
“Furthermore, this project harnesses a wide range of community resources and Cleveland’s rich
engineering and manufacturing expertise.”

NASA’s Glenn Research Center is advising on wind uplift forces. Ohio Aerospace Institute is
supporting product commercialization. BT Solar, a local solar installation company, will provide
technical assistance and end-user feedback. MAGNET, a nonprofit manufacturing consultancy,
is validating the mechanical design and advising on strategic business development. SDLE
Research Center at Case Western Reserve University will perform accelerated weather testing.
The New Tech Machinery division of Mazzella Companies will build the roll-forming machines,
and Sheffield Metals International, also a division of Mazzella, will provide raw materials.

The technology is being tested in Cleveland’s MidTown neighborhood, with support from real
estate developers J&M Real Estate Advisors, Hemingway Development and Cumberland
Development. Additional testing will be performed at Ohio Aerospace Institute, Tech Belt
Energy Innovation Center in Warren, Ohio, and the City of Cleveland Crown Water Plant. The
Greater Cleveland Partnership is helping to identify other test sites throughout the country.

Roll-A-Rack is expected to become commercially available by the end of 2020. The company is
currently working with solar installers interested in evaluating cost-saving opportunities. For
more information visit