A new high volume process will soon be available which will lower manufacturing costs for antennas used in mobile devices. Optomec, Inc. announced yesterday that it is developing a new digital production solution that enables direct printing of antennas used in mobile device applications.
This solution is based on Optomec's patented Aerosol Jet Printed Electronics technology, an Additive Manufacturing process used to print electronics onto planar and three-dimensional (3D) surfaces.
According to Optomec, Aerosol Jet printing utilizes aerodynamic focusing to precisely deposit nanomaterials to produce fine feature circuitry and embedded components without the use of masks or patterns. The resulting functional electronics can have line widths and pattern features ranging from 10's of microns to centimeters.
In this case, Aerosol Jet technology is used to directly print conformal antennas onto standard plastic inserts and enclosures 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.
Optomec's 3D printed antenna solution has the potential to significantly reduce cost and even the overall thickness of handheld devices due to efficient Additive Manufacturing process. It has also environmental and health benefits, as it completely eliminates the need for chemical plating and hazardous nickel content found in current manufacturing methods.
Posted in 3D Printing Applications
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