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RF Circuit Design for Inkjet Printing
Keywords: inkjet printing, RF circuit design, modeling
Manufacturing and design process of inkjet-printed circuits are closely coupled. Printing parameters and used ink-substrate combination affect dimensions that are realizable with printing. Electrical material properties of the circuits also strongly depend on manufacturing parameters such as sintering time and temperature. Electrical parameters and limitations set by manufacturing process have to be accurately known when RF circuits are designed. In this study applicability of inkjet printing to flexible RF applications was evaluated by designing two filter balun circuits for 868 MHz center frequency using electromagnetic tools in circuit simulator software. Required process steps and manufacturing costs were minimized by designing circuits on one metal layer. Coplanar wave guides (CPW) were used for interconnecting the components. Before design process printability tests and dc sheet resistance measurements were performed with identical print parameters that were used for the circuits. Dimensional limitations to CPW lines could be obtained from printability tests. Dc conductivity of inkjet-printed traces was calculated from measured sheet resistance values. The value was used by simulator to model conductor losses. According to results inkjet printing is potential manufacturing method in RF applications. Design methods were validated with vector network analyzer (VNA) measurements with satisfactory correlation with simulations. The main differences were losses that were higher than simulations were indicating. Due to microstructure of conductors, the losses at higher frequencies are not necessarily visible at dc measurements, which were used for parameter definition in simulations.
Janne Jalo, Student
Tampere University of Technology, Department of Electronics
Tampere 33101,

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