A 2.45 GHz Phased Array Antenna Unit Cell Fabricated Using 3-D Multi-Layer Direct Digital Manufacturing


This paper reports on the look, fabrication and characterization of a 3-D printed RF front finish for a 2.45 GHz phased array unit cell. The printed unit cell, which includes a circularly-polarized dipole antenna, a miniaturized capacitive-loaded open-loop resonator filter and a 4-bit section shifter, is fabricated employing a direct digital manufacturing (DDM) approach that integrates fused deposition of thermoplastic substrates with micro-dispensing for deposition of conductive traces. The individual components are combined in an exceedingly passive phased array antenna unit cell comprised of seven stacked substrate layers with seven conductor layers. The measured come loss of the unit cell is $>twelve$ dB across the two.forty five GHz ISM band and therefore the measured gain is $-11$ dBi together with all components. Experimental and simulation-based mostly characterization is performed to investigate electrical properties of as-printed materials, in particular the inhomogeneity of printed thick-film conductors and substrate surface roughness. The results demonstrate the strong potential for totally-printed RF front ends for light-weight weight, low price, conformal and readily customized applications.

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