Telecommunication parts are expensive to prototype, make and install, and spare parts bring significant costs. With 3D printing, geometrically intricate electrical components prototyped and installed much more efficiently.
Telecommunications operator Orange of France is working to provide clean renewable energy to millions of on-the-grid users as well as expanding to those off the grid (mainly those living in energy poverty) through the use of experimental 3D printed mini-wind turbine blades. Small wind turbines are being used to improve efficiency and optimize mobile connection performance but are expensive to mass produce. The 3D printing mini-wind turbine blades make the turbine significantly cheaper and improve performance.
3D manufacturing company Optomec of Albuquerque, New Mexico are now experimenting with 3D printing phone antennae, enabling them to refine the manufacturing process and giving them flexibility of design. It also eliminates the need for harmful solvents used in the manufacturing process. Voxel8 of Somerville, Massachusetts has developed a 3D printer capable of printing functioning, one-piece electronic devices. They are also working to develop inks to print batteries, sensors and resistors.
Aerospace Company Airbus is experimenting with 3D printing metal waveguides for use in telecommunications satellites. Waveguides filter out unwanted radio frequencies and allow others to pass through. The 3D printed parts will improve the satellite’s performance while lowering production costs and excess waste. The 3D printed waveguide being smaller enables Airbus to install more waveguide components onto satellites, improving its efficiency. Airbus hope it will improve how satellites are designed and developed.
Recent developments in 3D printing have lessened the constraints of cost and technical feasibility that have prevented communications technology from being used to its full potential. Telecommunication companies are increasingly using 3D printing to provide solutions to improve much of daily life.