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Wireless Connectivity

Low-cost 3D Printed Reflectors Improve WiFi Signals

12 November 2017

Dartmouth College researchers have developed an economical method for strengthening WiFi signals without buying a booster. Called WiPrint, the solution is a 3D printed fabrication that looks like a combination of aluminum foil and plastic.

In its research, the team evaluated interior layouts and determined target areas to strengthen or weaken signal strength. A "computationally optimized" signal reflector was placed around a wireless router. The reflector, created with plastic and a thin layer of metal, redirects wireless signals to the desired coverage areas.

What resulted is a reflector that increases signal reception, decreases interference and strengthens security. Current solutions can be costly, vulnerable to attacks or difficult to configure. The Dartmouth engineers developed a cost-effective, 3D-fabricated reflector that is a secure and easy-to-configure answer to wifi signal problems.

The researchers successfully tested the reflector with a variety of off-the-shelf Wi-Fi access points, including those using the latest Wi-Fi protocol 802.

The materials cost is estimated to be $35 for a customer-built reflector, which the team expects will perform better than antennae that cost thousands of dollars. The WiPrint software is not yet commercially available.

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