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Additive Manufacturing

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Research Summary:

Our group is very active in additive manufacturing, or "3D printing", research related to microwave and RF circuits. We have explored the use of 3D printing for creating complex 3D geometries for antennas, photonic crystal structures, and waveguiding structures. Some of our structures can be seen in the following image and the publications associated with them are at the bottom of the page. In addition to 3D printing and metalizing structures directly, we have also emplyed the use of 3D printing for creating injection molds to create passive components specifically for the THz frequency range where most 3D printing plastics are very lossy. This way, we can still have the benefits of 3D printing such as rapid prototyping, but have greater materials availability through the many low loss thermoplastics for THz frequencies.

Examples of 3D printed work from our lab: (A) Extended Taper, bilateral Vivaldi Antenna [6], (B) Standard Vivaldi Antenna [6],

(C) Patch Antenna [2], (D) Injection Mold for a rectangular tipped probe [5], (E) Near-field Spoof Plasmon THz Probe [1],

(F) Photonic Crystal Structure [3], (G) Dielectric Ridge Waveguides [3],

and (H) Substrate Integrated Ribbon Waveguides [4].


Many researchers working with additive manufacturing and electronics make use of conductive inks or pastes based on silver. One of the main problems with this approach to metallization is that silver inks and pastes have relatively low conductivity. For work in the microwave and RF frequency range this lack of conductivity can have a big impact on device performance, so, in our lab we metalize our parts using a copper sputtering system. An example of how we create designs that require metallization is shown below to create the waveguide structures in [4].

Example process for creating our metalized dielectric components, these waveguiding structures are from [4]:(A) Create and export a model from HFSS,

(B) print the model, here the Objet Connex350 is used, (C) clean the support material off the samples,(D) prepare the samples for sputtering,

here a Denton Vacuum Desktop Pro sputtering system is used, (E) sputter copper on the samples, (F) remove all extra support material for

sputtering and use a dremel to cut alumina rods to size and (G) insert the alumina rods to have a final product.


Prior projects have focused on 3D printed passive devices including antennas, waveguides, filters, and probes. We have current research projects in the lab related to 3D printing for active device integration, material characterization, and sensing.

Recent Related Publications:

[1] K. Y. Park and P. Chahal, “A near-field spoof plasmon THz probe using metallized 3-D printed plastic,” in International Conference on Infrared, Millimeter, and Terahertz Waves, IRMMW-THz, 2014.

[2] M. I. M. Ghazali, E. Gutierrez, J. C. Myers, A. Kaur, B. Wright, and P. Chahal, “Affordable 3D printed microwave antennas,” in Proceedings - Electronic Components and Technology Conference, 2015, vol. 2015-July, pp. 240–246.

[3] A. Kaur, J. C. Myers, M. Ifwat, M. Ghazali, J. Byford, and P. Chahal, “Affordable Terahertz Components using 3D Printing,” in Electronic Components and Technology Conference (ECTC) , 2015 IEEE 65th, 2015, pp. 2071–2076.

[4] J. A. Byford and P. Chahal, “Ultra-Wideband Hybrid Substrate Integrated Ribbon Waveguides Using 3D Printing,” in IEEE MTT-S International Microwave Symposium, 2016, pp. 3–6.

[5] J. A. Byford, Z. Purtill, and P. Chahal, “Fabrication of Terahertz Components using 3D Printed Templates,” in IEEE 66th Electronic Components and Technology Conference (ECTC), 2016.

[6] M. I. M. Ghazali, K. Y. Park, J. A. Byford, J. Papapolymerou, and P. Chahal, “3D Printed Metalized-Polymer UWB High-Gain Vivaldi Antennas,” in International Microwave Symposium, 2016, pp. 1–4.