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Additive manufacturing breakthrough

Tests conducted by Harris Corporation have shown that 3D printed radio frequency (RF) circuit performance is comparable to that of circuits developed using conventional manufacturing techniques.

Harris selected additive electronics provider, Nano Dimension, and its multi-material DragonFly Pro 3D electronics printer – a system that incorporates conductive silver inks and dielectric inks – and used it to produce the functional circuits in a single print. 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 commercialisation of aerospace and technology projects.

“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,” said 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 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,” said 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.”

According to Harris, the DragonFly 2020 Pro 3D printer transforms electromechanical development by empowering companies to take control of their entire development cycle. The system enables the 3D printing of functional electronics such as encapsulated sensors, conductive free-form geometries, antennas, moulded connected devices, printed circuit boards and other innovative devices.

Author
Bethan Grylls

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