Micro 3D printing for telecommunication: Is it possible?
You know it already, mobile communications are quickly advancing and 5G connections might soon be part of our daily life. Ultra-fast video streaming, super-efficient car radars, and 5G communication systems could quickly be improved in the upcoming years, and it could be thanks to 3D printing technology.
3D printing applications are endless and today, we will see an example of how 3D printing is currently able to manufacture at a micro scale, and helping to manufacture terahertz circuits or satellite sensors. Let’s see how new additive manufacturing technique can revolutionize telecommunication.
Micro 3D printing for terahertz circuits
At the University of Birmingham, a project is currently developing the possibility to 3D print circuits. This impressive project is run by Michal Lancaster, a professor working on micromachining techniques, making circuitry suitable for telecommunication.
It is still quite difficult to manufacture little elements such as terahertz circuits because it requires a really high level of precision. Manufacturing on a small scale is not that easy. But thanks the constant improvement of 3D printing technology and the development of micro 3D printing, it is becoming possible to print with a resolution of five microns or less, affirms Michael Lancaster from Birmingham University.
Telecommunication parts can be quite expensive to prototype, as they are often parts with complex geometries. Using 3D printing for these kinds of projects is actually a great way to work on complex and lightweight parts. It is also a great way to avoid material waste!
The project is focusing on 3D printed circuits at frequencies above 50GHz. It should create circuits with a lower cost, but improved performance, offering brand new possibilities in the telecommunications sector.
The team of researchers decided to use the services of 3D printing companies instead of investing in 3D printers for their research to reduce their costs. Micro Laser Sintering technology has been used, it is a metal 3D printing technique with a smaller laser and a very fine powder.
3D printing for telecommunication
We can see with this kind of research that the telecommunications sector could soon start to make the most of 3D printing. But some telecommunication devices are already made thanks to the use of 3D printing. Indeed, MIMO 3D printed antennas using photosensitive resin, Orange is working on 3D printed turbine components, and Voxel8 is a 3D printing company focusing on functional electronic devices such as smartphones.
Nanoprinting and metal 3D printing allow the creation of functional 3D printed conductive devices. This 3D printing application is promising, it could lead to interesting experiments and bring the technology even further.
What do you think about this 3D printing application? Let us know in the comments!
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Credit picture: Photo via 3D MicroPrint