Maxtena White Paper - Three-Phase Process for Embedded Antennas
Quick guide to working with Maxtena to deliver an embedded antenna system for your device
Maxtena is the leader in the design and manufacturing of high performance, light weight antennas for use in a variety of portable wireless applications including satellite phones, military radios, handheld navigation, GPS tracking, recreational devices and laptop computers. Maxtena produces both external antennas that come in a range of plastic housings as well as embedded antennas. The embedded antennas are custom built to sit perfectly in the application’s own housing.
To ensure the antennas provide maximum performance in varying configurations, Maxtena employs a multi-phase process, which includes fully assessing each customer’s unique requirements, using advance computer simulations to assess antenna and system performance, and final tuning of the antenna to provide ultimate performance for the customer. Maxtena has utilized this process on a wide range of handheld devices and has optimized it to ensure the customer receives the highest performing, best quality antennas with the quickest time to market.
Upon agreement between Maxtena and the customer that an embedded antenna is the best solution a two-way Non-Disclosure Agreement is executed so both parties can share design information. After the NDA is executed, a Maxtena Program Manager will schedule a call between Maxtena’s engineering team and the Customer.
Prior to the meeting the customer should provide CAD data in a suitable exchange format (such as STEP) for review by the Maxtena engineering team. The purpose of the meeting is for Maxtena to understand the customer’s requirements and to provide the customer with design guidance for their housing to ensure the final design will achieve the best overall antenna performance. A wide range of housing design elements can and will affect the performance of an embedded antenna and addressing these items early in the design phase can reduce the overall time required for development. Antenna placement, PCB spacing, material thickness, resin selection and resin additives are just some of the design elements where Maxtena will provide guidance.
At the conclusion of the meeting Maxtena will develop and submit a proposal detailing the breakdown of tasks, the schedule, Maxtena and customer deliverables, required engineering resources, and the total project cost. Upon review and acceptance of this proposal by the customer, and submission of a Non-Recurring Engineering (NRE) Purchase Order, Maxtena will assign resources to undertake the project.
After the customer has incorporated Maxtena’s design guidelines into the mechanical design, a new CAD database is sent to Maxtena. Maxtena’s engineers will import this design into simulation software and conduct an analysis of the design to identify the expected antenna performance and provide feedback to the customer on changes they can make to the housing to ensure optimal antenna performance.
Once the customer incorporates any modifications into its design, Maxtena orders a small quantity (usually 2 to 4) of machined prototypes using the latest design. At the same time, Maxtena manufactures an equal number of antennas to be used with the new housing prototypes. The prototype assemblies are then tested by Maxtena’s engineers using Maxtena’s in-house near field anechoic chamber to verify the design achieves the expected results. Typically, the chamber testing confirms the results of the simulation and the customer can have tooling made for the fabrication of production parts. In rare cases, minor changes are required to the housing design before the tooling can be ordered.
Once initial chamber testing is completed Maxtena will provide a written report documenting the results. Maxtena will also schedule the manufacture of a small number of antennas, usually 20 to 30, to be used for testing when the final housings are available.
When the first parts are made from the tooling, the customer sends a small number of parts to Maxtena (typically 20 to 30) for final testing in the anechoic chamber. Maxtena’s engineering team will test all of the units to get a broader sample and to confirm the performance will be repeatedly achieved across a production lot. Once the testing is complete Maxtena will provide the customer a final written report documenting the test results.
Maxtena will then begin production of the antennas in accordance with the customer’s orders and/or forecast.
The Business Result
As a result of Maxtena’s embedded antenna design process, companies are rapidly deploying products with consistent and reliable performance. This process involves substantial communication and collaboration between Maxtena and the customer and serves to cement a strong working relationship on both a business and technical basis. This interchange also serves to educate the customer on key characteristics that affect antenna performance and avoid making future design changes. Maxtena’s Program Manager continues to be the customers advocate within Maxtena to ensure a smooth transition to manufacturing and to respond to any issues that may arise.