The National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology (NIIST) is located in Thiruvananthapuram, India and is home to several brilliant scientists working in a range of fields of study. Recently, a group of those scientists used 3D printing to develop a new kind of wearable antenna that can be embedded into fabric, like military uniforms, for example. Antennae and wireless devices have been integrated into military uniforms for a long time for communication and monitoring purposes, but they’re not always perfect. Many of them, for example, are made from thin copper films attached to substrates of glass-reinforced epoxy, which makes them rigid and difficult to incorporate into textiles.
Researchers at NIIST have developed a new kind of wearable antenna 3D printed from a conductive silver ink. It’s flexible and lightweight, and, because it’s silver and not copper, will not oxidize. The bottom electrode on the polyester fabric the antenna was embedded into was 3D printed, as was the E-shaped patch antenna itself. The antenna could be used for a variety of applications, including defense, telemedicine and environmental monitoring.
“Our goal is to make wearable antenna which can be embedded in the jacket worn by soldiers in remote locations,” said Dr. P. Mohanan of Cochin University of Science and Technology, who also worked on the study. “We can connect the antenna to different sensors such as temperature, pressure and ECG sensors and the data can be transmitted to a remote server. The antenna can sense and communicate data in a non-intrusive manner. This way we can monitor the health of soldiers.”
The antenna is about 3 cm long and 4 cm wide, and made to operate at about 3.37 GHertz. It’s coated with a PVC polymer to make it water-resistant, and can be woven into textiles for WiMAX (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) applications. To maximize flexibility and keep the ink from permeating the material during screen printing, the researchers hot pressed three layers of the textile with polyacrylate sheets between the layers. The polyacrylate sheets then acted as an adhesive.
This is another example of how 3D printing can be used to improve the manufacture of telecommunications devices such as antennae. In many cases, 3D printing has been used to make antennae smaller and less bulky, taking them from massive, multipart assemblies to compact devices composed of only one piece. The weight reduction that 3D printing offers means that satellites, for example, can be launched for far less cost.
On a smaller scale, 3D printing an antenna like the one created by NIIST means that it can be made more flexible and better capable of functioning in the field. In a military context, you really don’t want your communications devices malfunctioning, and every small advancement that can keep things like embedded antennae performing better is, in fact, a huge advancement.
Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com, or share your thoughts below.[Source: Tevo News]
You May Also Like
Research Duo Uses Simulation and PLA to Make Lightweight 3D Printed Antenna Prototype
While most 3D printed antennas are made with metal, two researchers from Turkey’s Yasar University recently completed a study about using PLA material to make a 3D printed conical corrugated horn...
Boeing Creates the First 3D Printed Metal Satellite Antenna, Saves on Mass, Time, and Costs
Boeing satellite engineers recently created what is possibly the first ever 3D printed metal antenna for a satellite that will be sent into space on the AMOS 17. Now being...
AFRL and University Partners Used 3D Printed Composite Materials to Make Structural Parts
The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (WPAFB) near my hometown of Dayton, Ohio, has long been interested in using 3D printing and composite materials for...
Air Force Research Laboratory Testing 3D Printed Parts for Motors
In ‘3D Printed Motor: In-House Seedling Effort: Experiential Training for Building and Experimentally Testing a Motor Using 3D Printed Elements,’ authors Kevin J. Yost and Maxwell Stelmack discuss what they...