Car radars, 5G communication systems and satellite-based atmospheric sensors could all be improved as a result of a UK project to develop 3D printed terahertz and microwave circuits.
Although 3D printing is widely used in many areas of manufacturing, its use in microwave and terahertz circuits has so far been limited by the level of precision required to build devices at such a small scale.
However, the accuracy of 3D printers has significantly improved in recent years, with some now able to print down to a resolution of five microns or less, according to Michael Lancaster at Birmingham University, who is leading the EPSRC-funded project.
Moving PCB production in-house can save over 60% in prototyping time, produce better products, and have an impact on the supply chain.
More companies and universities are integrating 3D printing with their electronic design. The non-traditional process was well-received as it moved from the aerospace to automotive to medical industries. Electronics could be next on the list to benefit from 3D printing, according to Ernst and Young. Today, many people say we will never 3D-print phones and other complex, multi-material products. However, with so many companies pushing to develop a magical all-encompassing printer, will we see electronics being manufactured with 3D printing?