3D Printing

Voxel8 to 3D Print Antenna Arrays for Government Sponsor

After the company’s giant splash at CES last week, the manufacturer of the first electronics printing platform, Voxel8, has already begun securing new partnerships.  Today, the MITRE Corporation has announced that Voxel8 will be prototyping array antennas for a government sponsor using their flagship electronics printing device.

MITRE is in the business of working with federal agencies to develop high-tech products.  With seven federally-funded research and development centers (FFRDCs), the corporation tackles tech solutions in the fields of Defense & Intelligence, Aviation, Civil Agency Modernization, Homeland Security, U.S. Courts, Healthcare, and Cybersecurity.  One of their most recent projects, coming through from a government sponsor, was, according to a MITRE press release, to replace “gimbal-based reflector dish antennas” with a new design, consisting of “single, low-profile, wideband electronically scanned antennas”.  MITRE, however, was unable to produce such an antenna array using traditional manufacturing methods.

Luckily, MITRE employees already mentor the startups participating in the annual MassChallenge accelerator program.  As a result, the company was familiar with the work of Voxel8, winners of a $50k Gold Prize in last year’s MassChallenge program.  Introducing MITRE engineers to their multi-material electronics printing platform was an obvious decision.

Voxel8 3D printed quad copter with electronics
The, now famous, Voxel8 3D printed quadcopter, displayed at CES.

Jamie Hood, a mechanical engineer in MITRE’s Mechanical & Reliability Engineering Department, explains, “When I saw what Voxel8 could do, I was hopeful that their technology could be the solution to our problem – that we could realize the new phased array antenna using Voxel8’s 3D printer.” The corporation plans to leverage the startup’s printing technology by having Voxel8 prototype the antenna array this spring, with Hood saying, “The capabilities Voxel8 provides are nonexistent on the market today. Without access to local innovation through involvement in MassChallenge, we would still be searching for a solution to realize our design.”

The partnership with MITRE is a big one for the Massachusetts startup, tying Voxel8 indirectly to the federal government and putting them at a stone’s throw away from the government’s GSA spending.  The GSA Information Technology (IT) Schedule 70 makes up for more than $16 billion in federal purchases every year.  In addition to MITRE, Voxel8 has already teamed up with another big partner to develop their 3D printing software.  Relying on Autodesk’s Project Wire electronics printing software, Voxel8 is making friends in high places.  And it looks like those industry connections are already beginning to pay off.