The capabilities of antenna engineers need to cover the electromagnetics, microwave, and antenna theories, both analytical and numerical antenna design methodologies, practical laboratory work and antenna measurement.
The improvements in computer technology increase the usage of computational electromagnetics (CEM) methods in electromagnetics and antenna design. Antenna engineers generally use either their own numerical method codes such as FDTD, MOM, FEM etc. or antenna simulation software programs. High frequency methods are based on analytical formulas where CEM methods are based on numerical methods. High frequency methods are useful for electrically large structures and CEM methods are useful for any structure and materials. Depending on the problem, antenna engineers need to know which numerical method they need to use.
Practical laboratory work is an important part of antenna design. Antenna engineers need to prototype their design and change the shape easily in laboratory environment. They can iterate their design in laboratory environment if they have enough laboratory experience. Even the soldering quality, connector attachment, cables etc. can affect the antenna performance.
Antenna measurement is a part of laboratory experience. Reflection coefficient measurement and antenna radiation pattern measurement are two main parts of antenna measurement. Antenna engineers need to know near-field and far-field concepts very well. They also need to know how their antenna under test (AUT) works. The theoretical knowledge of antenna theory as well as antenna measurement theory and laboratory experience are particularly important to get accurate results.
Antenna engineers require to have a trade-off between many design parameters such as size, weight, cost, frequency band, VSWR, antenna gain, power rating, sidelobes, backlobe, polarization etc. Antenna requirements can be classified as mechanical requirements, electromagnetic requirements, and cost.
Most universities, research institutes and companies have 3D printers for fast prototyping. They are mostly used for project-based antenna education at the universities. The plastic outcomes of 3D printers are usually coated with conductive materials to get metal layers. Dielectric layers can be fabricated directly by using dielectric materials. These parts need to be integrated to get a complete antenna structure.
3D printers have 3 main advantages over classical subtractive machining methods. One of them is preventing the waste of materials, second is the reduction in cost and the third is fast production.
Re-usable antenna bricks of Anten’it kits both have the fast prototyping, preventing the waste of materials and cost advantages. Moreover, Anten’it kits do not need 3D printer, materials, and metallization/oven infrastructure costs.
Anten’it Antenna Training Kit is a perfect tool for teaching antenna design in time-limited antenna laboratory lectures. Students can design different types of antennas each week and learn the design, iteration, and measurement of antennas. Similar to antenna training kit, Antenna Research Kit which is an academic version of Anten’it Antenna Design and Prototyping Kit has the same advantages over 3D printers. Adding or removing antenna cells provide students to gain laboratory experience which is not possible with 3D printers.
In conclusion, 3D printers are useful to shorten the prototyping duration where antenna cells in Anten’it Antenna Design and Hardware Kits both shorten the prototyping duration, reduce infrastructure costs, and reduce material costs. Anten’it bricks easily provide iteration of antenna design in laboratory environment which is one of the most important antenna design steps for antenna engineers.