In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone; in 1973, Martin Cooper designed and created the first practical cellular phone. The telephone has come a long way since its creation. What was once a huge and inconvenient device is now a compact smartphone which allows users to do anything. Recently discovered with the application of 3D engineering, smartphones can now become even more convenient – at a cheaper price.
In a recent announcement, Optomec discovered a new method for antennas to be directly printed onto injection molded plastics. Nowadays, it;'s hard to picture a world without mobile devices. Whether the phone is a Nokia from 2003 or the newest iPhone, they all require a few key components and the most important is the antenna.
Currently, antennas are integrated into the device's chips or as a stand-alone component of the phone. However, New Mexico's Optomec wanted to change the paradigm to optimize the limited amount of space compacted into a phone. The company introduced a new technology called Aerosol Jet which allow printing of antennas using non-particle silver inks. This basically means phone manufacturers can print directly onto the body of the mobile devices.
With the recent announcement by Samsung about a mini series of their gadgets, it is possible that many other companies will be seeking solutions to create smaller phones and 3D printing may be the answer. With this new approach, mobile device manufacturers will be able to continue to satisfy the need to provide more functionality n their devices while producing increasingly smaller devices.
However, the ability to create smaller devices is not the only thing worth noting. The new technology introduced by Optomec could be the stepping stone for 3D manufacturing. While 3D printing encourages innovation and aids prototyping, it was never financially feasible for companies to manufacture through 3D printing. With the new Aerosol Jet technology, this could mean mobile device manufacturers will incorporate 3D printing into their assembly lines.