Science & Health

This Cheap 3D-Printed Antenna Works Just As Well As Its Expensive Siblings

This Cheap 3D-Printed Antenna Works Just as Well as Its Expensive Siblings

This light pink plastic dish may look like something from your grandmother’s china collection, but in fact it’s the European Space Agency’s first 3D-printed dual-reflector antenna. And it works surprisingly well.

The antenna, with a corrugated feedhorn and two reflectors, was printed as a single unit using a plastic polymer then given a thin lick of copper to help it function properly — hence the pinky hue. It was tested in ESA’s Compact Antenna Test Facility, an anechoic chamber where foam-covered walls absorb radio signals to simulate space. The tests show it works just as well as other antennae, so the space agency expects to use the process to make future radio dishes.

[G. Porter/ESA]

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