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Conformal Printed Antenna

Dual Band Antenna
printed with Aerosol Jet Direct Write process

Aerosol Jet Printing Process Highlight for Antenna
  • Low cost – no plating, simplified logistics
  • Standard plastics – no additives or coating
  • Digital process– flexible, no hard tooling
  • Environment friendly – no harsh chemicals
  • Health Benefits – no exposure to Nickel
  • Scalable – prints up to 4 cases simultaneously
  • High Machine output – average 30,000 units/week
  • Good antenna performance – comparable to other methods
A new high volume process will soon be available which will lower manufacturing costs for antennas used in mobile devices. The new process works with standard injection molded plastics - no special additives or coatings are required. Based on Aerosol Jet technology, the digital process prints conformal antennas using conductive nanoparticle silver inks. The printing process accurately controls the location, geometry and thickness of the deposit and produces a smooth mirror like surface finish to insure optimum antenna performance. No plating or environmentally harmful materials are used in the process.

Mobile device antennas including LTE, NFC, GPS, Wifi, WLAN, and BT have been printed using the Aerosol Jet process and independently tested by a leading cell phone component supplier. Measured antenna performance is comparable to other production methods. The Aerosol Jet printing process is scalable - antennas can be printed on up to 4 cases simultaneously on a single machine. Machine throughput for a typical antenna pattern measuring ~300 mm2 averages 30,000 units per week. For more information on this new process – click here.

3D Printed Electronics for Mil-Aero Applications
The demand for novel consumer and military electronic devices that pack more functionality into less space is driving the need for advanced manufacturing methods that tightly integrate electronic circuitry with physical packaging.

3D Printed UAV Wing

The unique ability to print electronics directly onto 3D surfaces, for example on a cell phone case or an aircraft wing, makes Aerosol Jet an ideal solution for reducing device size and weight. Common electronic materials including conductor, dielectric, resistor, and semiconductor inks can be processed by the Aerosol Jet system to print conformal sensors, antennas, shielding and other active and passive components. Printing these electronic components directly on or inside the physical device eliminates the need for separate printed circuit boards, cabling and wiring thereby reducing weight and size while also simplifying the assembly process. Device performance can also be improved by eliminating protruding components such as antenna thereby reducing aerodynamic drag.

In this example, the Aerosol Jet system was used to print a conformal sensor, antenna, and power and signal circuitry directly onto the wing of a UAV model. The wing itself was 3D printed with the Stratasys. The electrical and sensor designs were provided by Aurora Flight Sciences, a supplier of UAVs. For more information click here to access a paper on 3D Aerosol Jet Printing - Adding Electronics Functionality to RP/RM

6 Axis 3D Printing System

Printing in Trenches and on Domes
The demand for novel consumer and military electronic devices that pack more functionality into less space is driving development of 3D printed electronics. Applications ranging from System In Package (SiP) used in smart phones and other mobile devices to conformal printed sensors, antennas and EMI shielding used in aerospace and defense products, are all realizing the possibilities of Aerosol Jet conformal printing technology. The unique ability of Aerosol Jet systems to print fine line conformal circuitry on non planar surfaces is a key enabler for fully printed electronics on 3D surfaces. The relatively large stand-off, up to 5mm from the nozzle tip to the substrate, and high velocity particle stream enable the Aerosol Jet material deposition head to print on surfaces with inclines of up to 60 degrees without tilting the head. Printing on higher inclined surfaces can be achieved by tilting the Aerosol Jet print head. Customers have adapted our systems to their specific printed electronics requirements by adding four or five axes of motion along with specific tilt head control

3D Printing with Aerosol Jet
Neotech Services, Optomec's representative in the EU, implemented a 6-axis 3D printing system utilizing Aerosol Jet technology. With this development, Neotech aims to extend Aerosol Jet's unique capabilities towards true 3D Printed Electronics. The installed system can print over complex conformal surfaces and will be used to develop integrated sensor, MID circuit and smart structure applications. The target markets are automotive, industrial and aerospace industries.

Click here for more information on Aerosol Jet Products

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