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International Journal of Antennas and Propagation
Volume 2017, Article ID 7516323, 15 pages
Research Article

Design, Fabrication, and Testing of Active Skin Antenna with 3D Printing Array Framework

1Key Laboratory of Electronic Equipment Structure Design, Ministry of Education, Xidian University, Xi’an 710071, China
2State Key Laboratory of Structural Analysis for Industrial Equipment, Dalian University of Technology, Dalian 116024, China
3National Key Laboratory of Antennas and Microwave Technology, Xidian University, Xi’an 710071, China
4Nanjing Research Institute of Electronic Technology, Nanjing 210039, China

Correspondence should be addressed to Jinzhu Zhou; moc.621@uohzzj_naidix

Received 25 August 2017; Accepted 17 October 2017; Published 23 November 2017

Academic Editor: Maggie Y. Chen

Copyright © 2017 Jinzhu Zhou et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


An active skin antenna with structural load-bearing and electromagnetic functions is usually installed in the structural surface of mobile vehicles such as aircrafts, warships, and high-speed train. This paper presents the design, fabrication, and testing of a novel active skin antenna which consists of an encapsulation shell, antenna skin, and RF and beam control circuits. The antenna skin which consists of the facesheet, honeycomb, array framework, and microstrip antenna elements was designed by using Bayesian optimization, in order to improve the design efficiency. An active skin antenna prototype with 32 microstrip antenna elements was fabricated by using a hybrid manufacturing method. In this method, 3D printing technology was applied to fabricate the array framework, and the different layers were bonded to form the final antenna skin by using traditional composite process. Some experimental testing was conducted, and the testing results validate the feasibility the proposed antenna skin structure. The proposed design and fabrication technique is suitable for the development of conformal load-bearing antenna or smart skin antenna installed in the structural surface of aircraft, warships, and armored vehicles.