Aerospace

Harris Corporation and Nano Dimension 3D print radio frequency circuits for space systems

Harris Corporation, a U.S. technology company specializing in tactical communications, has demonstrated the functionality of 3D printing radio frequency (RF) amplifier circuit boards using a DragonFly 2020 Pro 3D printer from Nano Dimension.

The 3D printed RF circuit boards, which are used within wireless systems, were manufactured as a result of a joint project with the Israel Innovation Authority and Space Florida Foundation. This partnership was formed to promote the research, development and commercialization of aerospace technology.

“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 3D printed radio frequency (RF) circuit board. Photo via Nano Dimension.
The 3D printed radio frequency (RF) circuit board. Photo via Nano Dimension.

Harris Corporation accelerates 3D printed electronics

Headquartered in Melbourne, Florida, Harris Corporation provides worldwide defense contractor and information technology services for wireless equipment such as tactical radios, night vision equipment, and both terrestrial and spaceborne antennas.

Last year, in collaboration with Harris Corporation, Nano Dimension received an Israel Innovation Authority grant approval to finance a project using additive manufacturing for electronic devices in the aerospace sector. This project intended to display the ability of 3D printing multilayer circuits to decrease the size, weight, power, and cost of space systems.

A close-up of a multilayer PCB printed by the DragonFly 2020 3D Printer. Photo via Nano Dimension.
A close-up of a flexible PCB printed by the DragonFly 2020 3D Printer. Photo via Nano Dimension.

Multi-Material 3D printing for electronic devices

The DragonFly 2020 Pro enables multi-material 3D printing through an inkjet deposition system. This process creates functional electronic parts in a single print using conductive silver inks and dielectric inks, enabling the addition of electronic functionality to unconventional, and non-planar designs – as discussed in a recent interview with Simon Fried CBO and co-founder of Nano Dimension.

In relation to Harris Corporation’s application Amit Dror, CEO of Nano Dimension added, “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. [It] makes possible development of even smaller and lighter antennas that have rigid packaging integrated with flexible circuits, without the need for cables and connectors.”

Harris Corporation will present the findings from its 3D printed RF circuits at the Radio Wireless Week in January 2019.

The DragonFly Pro 3D printing PCBs. Photo via Nano Dimension
The DragonFly Pro 3D printing PCBs. Photo via Nano Dimension

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Featured image shows the 3D printed radio frequency (RF) circuit board. Photo via Nano Dimension. 

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