Direct Printing of 3D Structural Radio Frequency Electronics
ABSTRACT: Historically, fiberglass/composite manufacturing processes were focused on the fabrication of structural/mechanical subcomponents. For UAVs this would include components such as wings, fuselage, and panels. To accommodate electronic functions, appliques are used with certain antennas. Cavities in wing or fuselage structures are provided to mount traditional electronic assemblies, with access provided via a cover panel. The problem with this configuration is the ability to interconnect between supporting electronics and external antennas and sensors. This is one of the technical objectives the work proposed herein will address. The Sciperio team will address these"packaging"challenges through innovative integration of composite-based additive manufacturing and direct printing, a process which is referred to as Direct Print Additive Manufacturing (DPAM). DPAM will both support the ability to co-process a multifunctional wing and serve as a post process in providing added functionality to legacy systems. The technology will be demonstrated through the fabrication of a MEMS based phase shifter which, through fabrication, will address the challenge areas identified in the AF121-003 solicitation. BENEFIT: Size, weight, and power (SWaP) are key benefits derived from the packaging technology developed under this SBIR. SWaP can certainly be applied to virtually all mobile platform, whether military or commercial. Coupled with the drag reduction benefits in embedding the RF electronics and sensors, two key application areas come to mind. First, space system like satellites and satellite delivery systems would have direct benefit of SWaP and drag reduction. Space encompasses both military mission needs and the country"s new commercial space initiatives. Space habitat systems would also be a beneficiary of the structural electronics capability, considering one of the largest challenges to these systems is that they are pressure vessels and ingress/egress are significant challenges. These same attributes can also be applied to underwater systems (habitat and mobile systems). These systems also have pressure issues; space equals vacuum, underwater equals water pressure. Underwater systems support military missions, homeland security, environmental research, and oil exploration. The consumer electronic industry generates billions of dollars in revenue annually, and this technology will revolutionize next generation products. The critical component of manufacturing RF electronics in any structure will enable the future of smart phones, tablets, and other wireless products. At the completion of Phase II, Sciperio will deliver a specified product to Raytheon and will also establish processes to specifically address wireless electronic structures.
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