Fortify and Rogers Corporation create Dielectric 3D Printing Materials

The Boston-based 3D printing startup Fortify, teamed up with Rogers Corporation, a global leader in engineered materials for advanced connectivity and power electronics, to make 3D-printed low-loss dielectric materials for radio frequency electronics and devices a reality.

Fortify’s advanced composite processing abilities in 3D printing technology paired with Rogers Corporation’s expertise in low-loss, high-frequency materials enable the creation of print precision substrates, Luneberg-like Gradient Refractive Index lenses and end-use components. Rogers Corporation is the perfect partner for the startup Fortify. Rogers Corporation is a global leader in their field and publicly traded, which means they also can provide the financial measures needed. Fortify is sure that their Continuous Kinetic Mixing (CKM) differentiates itself from traditional digital light processing (DLP) technologies and is thus able to maintain the quality of advanced materials, such as the low-loss products Rogers Corporation offers.

“As our world becomes increasingly connected, so does the need for faster and higher capacity wireless connections,” Trevor Polidore, New Product Development Group Leader at Rogers Corporation, said. “Partnering with Fortify will allow Rogers to deliver a complete solution for the manufacturing of 3D-printed dielectric components, enabling our customers to create the next generation of wireless systems.”

Wireless World meets 3D Printing

Active antenna systems (AAS) are more and more used in mainstream wireless communication devices and SATCOM systems. AAS can produce highly directive signals that can be altered electronically and form several beam patterns. This is a great advantage for cutting-edge applications such as high-throughput satellites (HTS) and 5G, since through this they can offer services that were previously inaccessible with traditional antennas.

Regrettably, AAS devices are not easy to manufacture and are still quite expensive, with various performance tradeoffs when scaled to consumer level. Both companies think it is possible to tackle some of these challenges with the use of 3D dielectric materials. However, experience shows that these materials are complex to create for various reasons, such as quality and cost. This makes it difficult to achieve practical manufacturing requirements and then sustain the repeatability of the processes.

“The photopolymers available today are an order of magnitude more lossy than thermoplastics, yet 3D printing complex parts at scale-out of thermoplastics is time-consuming.” Phil Lambert, Sr. Applications Engineer at Fortify said. “With the right low-loss material systems from Rogers combined with Fortify’s printers, we can offer a solution that provides excellent feature resolution, great RF properties, and high throughput capabilities for end-use parts.

Fortify’s Continuous Kinetic Mixing

The CKM technology used by Fortify in their Fortify Flux series printers, enables the processing of advanced materials, such as Rogers’ low loss dielectric materials and at the same time maintaining material consistency and quality throughout the production process. In comparison to traditional DLP platforms that struggle to print heavily loaded, highly viscous materials, the CKM technology works by evenly allocating functional additives in photopolymer resins, which results in filled and fiber-reinforced parts.

“With Rogers, we are positioned to commercialize the first scalable, low-loss 3D printed RF dielectric materials,” Josh Martin, CEO and Co-founder of Fortify, said.  “This partnership is a great example of how innovative materials and technology companies can come together and provide a differentiated value proposition to a rapidly growing market.”

Utilization of Technology

The companies assure that users will be provided with the means to manufacture communications equipment, such as radio frequency parts made of different dielectric materials. This new technology can be utilized for passive lens devices that enhance gain and directivity for single or multi-feed systems found in SATCOM On-The-Move commlinks, 5G AAS system to widen the perception and reduce sidelobe levels, and radio frequency sensing. In fact, RF parts are prime examples for improvement with additive manufacturing (AM), since 3D printing is able to create complex geometries for highly specific applications.

All of this can be done thanks to Fortify’s 3D printers. The benefits the printers provide for printed RF dielectric technology entail, for example, a lower weight, scalable manufacturing, quick turnaround parts, wide bandwidth and structure design freedom. The companies aim to optimize all of these features more and more in their partnership with the goal to improve even further.

What do you think about this newly found partnership and their developments in such a challenging field? Leave us a comment below and do not hesitate to check out other posts related to 3D printing on our blog.

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