Collection manufacturing of 5G automotive antennas with SLS 3D printing potential –

The civil antenna manufacturer Rhosoon Intelligent Technology prints 5G vehicle antennas using 3D printing. The devices carry out high-performance communication for remote areas with poor network coverage and support emergency services that operate under extreme conditions. The China-based company turned to Farsoon’s laser powder bed melting system to create its innovative 5G product, which is smaller and lighter than traditional car antennas and can replace complex devices in vehicles with better performance. The company has now taken its new antenna design into mass additive manufacturing and will begin marketing it to auto designers and manufacturers.

In the global automotive market, connectivity technologies have been increasingly used to improve navigation systems, safety, and entertainment. In one of Technavio’s latest market research reports, remote diagnosis is cited as a critical motivator for the increasing interest in automotive antennas, especially in mid-range vehicles. As in numerous other industries, fifth generation wireless technology known as 5G could disrupt the automotive sector. The way we drive is expected to change. 5G is now being hyped to an extraordinary extent. In China, the volume of 5G connected car sales could rise to 7.1 million units in 2025, accounting for 40% of the country’s total connected car units.

Despite the industry’s enthusiasm for 5G, Rhosoon believes that there is “untapped potential” in the large automotive market. While luxury vehicles are equipped with intelligent systems that are supported by antennas, the high cost of the devices is only implemented to a limited extent in the larger pool of lower quality automobiles. In addition, the conventional vehicle-mounted antenna systems are usually equipped with various expensive ultrasonic, infrared and optical sensors and power generating devices, making them large and very heavy.

Rhosoon turned to laser sintering technology pioneer Farsoon to develop efficient and reliable data transmission antennas for 5G automobiles that are lighter, more versatile and cheaper than existing ones. The company relied on 3D printing technology throughout the product workflow, from product planning to design, prototyping, optimization and verification, to dramatically reduce time to market and simplify the manufacturing process. The 403P laser powder bed melting series, Farsoon’s flagship production polymer system, started mass production. The powerful and versatile open platform system is ideal for full production of polymer parts, offering higher productivity and a lower price per part.

The 403P series is Farsoon’s flagship production polymer system. Image courtesy of Farsoon.

Overall, Rhosoon suggested that its innovative solution offer a significantly smaller 3D printing device that replaces complex devices with better performance. The engineering team opted for the Lüneburg lens design concept, which offers a spherically symmetrical gradient index format for radially reduced index refraction from the center to the surface, enables good convergence and directional refraction of electromagnetic waves, and can transmit multiband signals.

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The Luneberg lens design is no stranger to Rhosoon. The company invented the world’s first Luneberg phased array antenna. The product is considered to be one of the most outstanding technological achievements in the east Chinese city of Hefei – home of Rhosoon – and is intended to help the province develop civil satellite communications. Located in the Hefei National High-Tech Industry Development Zone, Rhosoon is one of more than 33,000 companies in high-end industries such as artificial intelligence, quantum information, integrated circuits, biomedicine, new energy, and advanced manufacturing. 3D-printed Lüneburg lens installed in the antenna system. Image courtesy of Rhosoon.

For this special project, thanks to Farsoon’s laser powder bed melting process, Rhsoon made the Lüneburg lens antennas possible in one piece without support. The engineers chose Farsoon’s nylon-based material FS 3300PA. The company stated that during the functional test, the printed antennas had stable and good dielectric constant performance and superior mechanical properties, as well as improved durability under high temperature conditions compared to other additive technologies such as Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM).

Since 2018, Rhosoon and Farsoon have completed several projects with a variety of custom 3D printed antennas. Rhosoon demonstrated that laser-powder bed fusion technology lowered production costs, especially for tools, molds, and spare parts for custom products and low-volume manufacturing. The technology enables the company to produce 48 high quality parts per day on a single Farsoon 403P machine.

Given the rapid development of antennas through the use of 3D printing technology, the company is planning “a more compact communication device” that is as small as a notebook, cheaper and ideal for the widespread adoption of terrestrial satellite communications in the near future.

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