3D-printed RF amp marks additive manufacturing 'breakthrough'

November 09, 2018 // By Rich Pell
3D-printed RF amp marks additive manufacturing 'breakthrough'
Harris Corporation (Melbourne, FL) has announced that it has successfully 3D-printed a functional radio frequency (RF) amplifier, demonstrating what it says is a major breakthrough in additive manufacturing for printed electronics.

Using a multi-material DragonFly Pro 3D electronics printer from additive electronics provider Nano Dimension (Ness Ziona, Israel) to produce the circuit in a single print, the company says that tests it conducted on the circuit showed RF circuit performance comparable to that of circuits developed using conventional manufacturing techniques.

"Harris looked at the applicability of 3D printing for developing RF systems, and then designed, simulated, and tested the 3D-printed RF amplifier and compared it with an amplifier fabricated using conventional manufacturing techniques," says Arthur Paolella, PhD, senior scientist, Space and Intelligence Systems, Harris Corporation. "Our results showed similar RF performance between the 3D printed version and the baseline amplifier, clearly demonstrating the viability of 3D printed electronics for RF circuitry."

The development of RF circuits for electronic warfare and communications systems has in recent years focused on improving mobility and performance. In addition, reducing development time and cost - typically a long, complex multi-stage process when using conventional manufacturing methods - has also been a focus, says the company.

"The use of in-house 3D-printed electronics to make antennas is a breakthrough, in terms of the time and cost of prototyping and proofs-of-concept," says Amit Dror, CEO of Nano Dimension. "In addition, 3D-printed electronics makes possible development of even smaller and lighter antennas that have rigid packaging integrated with flexible circuits, without the need for cables and connectors."

The tests were part of a study on the advantages of using additive manufacturing to develop RF circuits for wireless systems - part of a joint project with the Israel Innovation Authority and Space Florida Foundation, a partnership promoting research, development, and the commercialization of aerospace and technology projects.

Harris will present the full details of its findings at the IEEE Radio and Wireless Symposium in January. A copy of the study - " Use Case: Harris Corp. 3D Prints RF Amplifiers " - is also available.

Harris Corporation
Nano Dimension

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