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Advantages of 3D Printable Digital Foams over Traditional Foam Cores for Antenna Applications


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11/30/22 11:00 am to 12:00 pm EST

Event Description

Technical Education Webinar Series

Title: Advantages of 3D Printable Digital Foams over Traditional Foam Cores for Antenna Applications

Date: November 30, 2022

Time: 8am PT / 11am ET

Sponsored by: Fortify

Presented by: Colby Hobart


Traditional foam cores are difficult to machine, both for PCB panel routing and to achieve a non-standard starting thickness. They are used in PCB applications today, as part of antenna or radome structures to fill volume with a very low effective permittivity (Ek) and very low effective dielectric loss tangent (Df). This creates a high-Q space for capacitive coupling to patch antennas or as part of a superstrate covering for antenna elements and a spacer for radomes.

While traditional foams have solved many complex antenna and array issues, there are limitations to foam cores compared to more rigid cores used to support PCB layers. Traditional foam core manufacturing challenges include:

  • Crushing to some degree during lamination to metallized cores. This crush must be predicted accurately in order to hold reasonable thickness tolerances on the overall PCB.
  • Unable to take a metallization process directly. Metallizing the surface requires a thin traditionally etched core to be laminated to the foam core.
  • No feasible way to plate through holes in traditional foams. Some cases can use a conductive pin inserted in a drilled hole and soldered to either side of the sub stackup - but this is tedious and creates an additional issue with clearance during the subsequent lamination.
In this upcoming webinar, we will talk about how to address these challenges with 3D printed low-loss digital foam cores, which can resolve many of the issues with traditional foams. For example, they do not crush during lamination, even at high pressures, up to 400 PSI. Therefore, the thickness tolerance of the device is very small. They do not need to be machined, as any shape or geometry structure can be printed within the build volume and design rules. Additionally, holes can be printed with a thin solid wall separating them from the porous low-Dk region. Development efforts have demonstrated selective high-conductivity plated copper forming plated through holes and planar copper patterning. A thin skin can be printed on the surface(s) of the device to accept copper patterning.

Register for this webinar to learn more about how:

  • Low-loss 3D printed digital foams do not change thickness under lamination pressures up to 400PSI
  • Digital foams can be printed in any shape within the design rules
  • Digital foams can have solid features in areas to accept selective electroless copper
Presenter Bio:

Colby is an experienced Radio Frequency Engineer in both the design and applications engineering areas. With 18 years of experience in the field, he has held positions with several subcontractor suppliers to the military prime contractors, performing work on various passive components for radar systems. New to the additive manufacturing market, Colby brings his breadth of experience in RF and radar to this space. His main focus in the RF Applications role is to bridge the gap between the type of RF design engineer he has worked with for years and the enabling technology that brings relevant low-loss RF materials to the additive manufacturing market. He very much enjoys the excitement of demonstrating to customers the enhanced antenna performance they can achieve through additive technology.

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