Lightweight Waveguide and Antenna Components Using Plating on Plastics
Paper in proceedings, 2013
We present three methods for producing lightweight waveguide- and antenna components by autocatalytic electroless copper plating on plastics. Waveguides for the Ku-band are manufactured through; 1) extrusion of ABS plastics; 2) 3D printing with Stereolithography (SLA) polymers and; 3) composite forming in Particle Pressure Chamber (PPC). The three methods covers applications from prototypes to mass production, from in house applications to space approved extremes. In previous autocatalytic methods it has been difficult to exceed 2 μm copper layer but in this work we utilize a method of autocatalytic electroless plating on plastics for unlimited thickness but here stopped at a 4-5 μm thick glossy copper layer. Measurements on conductivity and attenuation have shown that the performance is approaching that of standard aluminium waveguides with 0.0375 dB/cm loss, but with reduced weight and lower cost if made in series. Refined waveguide samples will be measured for the conference presentation.