This week at RAPID + TCT, nScrypt, a Florida-based manufacturer of micro-dispensing and 3D printing equipment, is showcasing examples of Radio Frequency (RF) Printed Circuit Structures (PCS) made from its Direct Digital Manufacturing (DDM) system, also known as Factory in a Tool (FiT).
Included in this display is what is said to be the first 3D printed phased array antenna (PAA). According to Dr. Ken Church, CEO at nScrpyt, “Direct digital manufacturing the PAA resulted in an estimated 10X cost reduction over traditional manufacturing methods.”
“We’re not talking here about 3D printing as most people know it. It’s really direct digital manufacturing, where the FiT takes a digital blueprint and turns it into a finished printed circuit structure. The tool contains all the functionality to make finished high performance and complex RF circuits, all on a single tool.”
The Factory in a Tool platform
The DDM or FiT system combines microdispensing, material extrusion, micro-milling, and pick and place tool heads with multiple cameras, for autonomous, hybrid manufacturing. This platform produced the PAA’s substrate using a material extrusion tool head, then, using microdispensing, conductive traces, solder dots and filled vias were integrated with nScrypt’s proprietary SmartPump.
Following this, nScrypt’s PNP tool head was used to pick and place active circuits without tool changes, for a fully functioning 4-element PAA. The company is also displaying a 3D printed 30cm tri-use dish antenna, which can be used for optical, RF, or acoustic communication, as well as a 3D printed feed horn and a circular to rectangular waveguide adapter.
RAPID + TCT attendees can visit nScrypt at booth 717.
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Featured image shows a small size phased array antenna. Image via nScrypt.