<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=1282238955135262&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">
Nano Dimension Blog
Shaping the future of additive manufacturing and 3D printed electronics

Breakthrough 3D Printing of RF Antennas Showcased by Harris Corp. at 2019 IEEE Radio & Wireless Week

3D Printer

Harris Presenttion

Our DragonFly Pro additive manufacturing system received important recognition this week at the 2019 IEEE Radio & Wireless event in Orlando, where major US defense contractor Harris Corporation presented findings showing precision radio frequency (RF) antennas it additively printed using the DragonFly had similar performance to antennas printed using conventional equipment.

This is a significant breakthrough for the additive manufacturing of electronics in a variety of industries, including defense and aerospace. For its research study, the Melborne, Florida-based defense contractor partnered with us and used our printer and our specialized conductive and dielectric inks to generate a 3D printed proof--of-concept RF antenna designed to operate at 5.2 GHz and an RF amplifier with operation up to 6 GHz.

This is a significant breakthrough for the additive manufacturing of electronics in a variety of industries, including defense and aerospace. For its research study, the Melborne, Florida-based defense contractor partnered with us and used our printer and our specialized conductive and dielectric inks to generate a 3D printed proof--of-concept RF antenna designed to operate at 5.2 GHz and an RF amplifier with operation up to 6 GHz.

To assess the quality of the 3D printed RF circuit versus one printed with traditional methods, Harris used amplifier measurements that tested for included small signal gain, input return loss, and output return loss of each version of the antenna.

Dr. Arthur Paolella, a senior scientist for Harris Space and Intelligence Systems, was among the presenters at the show. In written materials, Dr. Paolella notes that additive manufacturing will play an important role in advancing the usefulness of smallsats and the overall low-Earth orbit (LEO) economy because its many possible uses. He noted the technology can play critical roles in nearly every aspect of research, design and manufacturing, while offering significant advantages including high performance, rapid development time, and the ability to print complex shares not achievable through traditional manufacturing of electronic parts.

Because of these possibilities, determining whether the 3D printed antennas differed from those printed using traditional methods was critical .

Harris is a leader in the development of RF circuits for electronic warfare and communications systems. In recent years, developing these circuits and systems used for conveying information such as data, video and voice across long distances, has focused on improving mobility and performance. Harris also has focused on reducing development time and cost which typically is a long, complex multi-stage process when using conventional manufacturing methods.

Using Nano Dimension’s Dragonfly Pro™ System, Harris printed a functional 101mm x 38mm (4” x 1.5”) x 3mm thick circuit in 10 hours, and in a single print.

In their tests, the researching found the following: 

  • There was no noticeable difference in the input or output return loss response over the frequency range from 10 MHz to 6 GHz when comparing the additively manufactured antenna from the conventionally printed one.
  • There was no noticeable difference in the gain of the 3D printed circuit and the conventionally manufactured amplifier. The gain difference between the 3-D printed circuit and the conventionally manufactured circuit was less than 1 dB up to 4.7 GHz and less than 1.3 dB up to 6 GHz.

Dr. Paolella noted that the results clearly demonstrate the viability of 3D printed electronics for RF circuitry.

We agree. 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. 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 implications of the Harris results are huge. While Nano Dimension’s commercial value proposition has always been clear – reduced intellectual property (IP) risk, lower cost and time penalty, more flexible production and a better end-product – being able to 3D print antennas similar in performance to traditional antennas could be a catalyst for rapid advancements in the electronics and radio communications industries.

The study on the advantages of using additive manufacturing to develop RF circuits for wireless systems is 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.

  

Contact Us

Nano Dimension

Nano Dimension

January 24, 2019

If your project needs the security, flexibility, and cutting-edge ingenuity of the Dragonfly Pro, reach out to one of our representatives today.

Tell us about your design needs

Subscribe to Email Updates

Learn More

Get in touch with us to find out more about our products
Get in Touch