To reduce size, weight, power and cost (SWaP-c), military platforms have been evolving towards a more integrated design approach that efficiently utilizes all available space. In fact, to accommodate limited space constraints many commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) systems will need to be replaced by custom designed and fabricated components. In the case of radiofrequency (RF) electronic systems, this will require exploring innovative design methods, new materials and novel manufacturing approaches to fabricate cost-effective, customizable and conformal RF devices that do not rely on standard COTS technologies. An attractive solution to this challenge is offered by the field of additive manufacturing (AM). While the current AM market (> 5 billion annually) has been growing rapidly, it is still built around single material based systems. These systems are capable of fabricating complicated 3D parts out of a single material (e.g., polymers, metals or ceramics) that is selected primarily based on its mechanical properties. However the applicability of single material systems to RF applications is limited. A promising new technology for fabricating functional RF components and systems is multi-material AM. In this presentation we will describe our progress on the use of a single multi-material AM system to fabricate a fully functional Ku-band (12-18 GHz) RF front end with integrated amplifiers, mixers and active beam steering.
- Appreciate the use of multi-material additive manufacturing for applications in high speed electronics and radiofrequency devices and systems.
- Understand the current progress and future challenges of using additive manufacturing for complex functional systems such as high frequency radar and communication systems.