NextFlex®, America’s Flexible Hybrid Electronics (FHE) Manufacturing Institute, today announced $11.5 million in funding (including $6.3M in cost-share contribution from participants) for 12 new projects as part of its Project Call 5.0 to further promote FHE development and adoption throughout the U.S. advanced manufacturing sector.
Project Call 5.0’s awarded projects represent a diverse and innovative set of companies and universities that together are focused on maturing the industry’s capabilities while leveraging the strong foundation established in prior Project Calls. Included in this latest round of funded projects are applications that focus on aerospace, structural health monitoring and sophisticated array antennas to help move the manufacturing industry closer to volume manufacturing and commercialization. This latest round of funding brings the total amount invested in FHE developments to over $100M, including cost share contributions from prior Project Call participants.
“Despite these uncertain times, NextFlex and its members are forging ahead to deliver flexible, conformable, low-cost, thin and lightweight electronics solutions for a number of application areas, both for defense and commercial applications alike,” said Malcolm Thompson, Executive Director at NextFlex. “With several projects focused on the manufacturability and reliability of FHE systems and devices, this current round of funded projects demonstrates an overall maturation of FHE technology – which showcases the considerable progress and investment occurring within the advanced manufacturing sector despite aspects of the economy that be might temporarily stalled.”
The 12 winning projects will address reliability and process improvements in manufacturing automation and test protocols to ensure FHE systems perform at parity or better than traditional rigid systems. Furthermore, the projects will help to transition an increasing number of new capabilities into the U.S. industrial manufacturing sector for further advancement of the industry.
Project Call 5.0’s awarded funding will go to:
- Development led by Worcester Polytechnic Institute to enhance the endurance and resolution of inkjet printing for high volume digital manufacturing
- Development led by Binghamton University to demonstrate printed stretchable conductors for optimal mechanical and electrical performance
- Development led by SysteMECH to achieve consistent automated component attach for ultra-thin FHE systems and devices
- Development led by Hewlett Packard Enterprise to develop the FHE Process Design Kit (PDK) 2.0, expanding design tools and libraries to foster commercialization
- Development led by GE Global Research to develop scalable manufacturing processes for embedded sensors in composite structures
- Development led by Lockheed Martin Company for trusted FHE with a passive UHF-RFID tag with encrypted security features for authentication and tamper resistance
- Development led by Auburn University to test and evaluate flexible batteries and provide guidelines for performance and reliability
- Development led by The Boeing Company to additively manufacture durable high temperature electronics for hypersonic vehicles
- Development led by GE Global Research that will characterize additively manufactured electronics properties, interconnects, and processes capable of 300-750 degrees for hypersonic applications
- Development led by GE Global Research to design and produce reliable, flexible and conformal temperature and humidity sensors for extreme environments, in partnership with US Army CCDC-Armaments Center
- Development led by The Boeing Company to mature the manufacturing process of embedding antennas within fiberglass composite structures and validating RF performance for conformal antennas for telemetry, in partnership with Missile Defense Agency
- Development led by Lockheed Martin Company for flexible interconnects for large deployable x-band phased arrays that integrate fiber optics to reduce size and weight
For more information about NextFlex and the Project Call program, please visit https://www.nextflex.us/project-call/.
NextFlex is a consortium of companies, academic institutions, non-profits and state, local and federal government partners with the shared goal of advancing the manufacture of flexible hybrid electronics in the U.S. Since its formation in 2015, the NextFlex community of technologists, educators, problem solvers and manufacturers have come together to collectively facilitate innovation, narrow the manufacturing workforce gap and promote sustainable manufacturing ecosystems. NextFlex is one of eight Manufacturing Innovation Institutes established by the DoD Manufacturing Technology Program as public-private partnerships and funded through the AFRL Cooperative Agreement FA8650-15-2-5401. For more information, visit www.nextflex.us and follow NextFlex on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
About Flexible Hybrid Electronics (FHE)
FHE gives everyday products the power of silicon ICs by combining them with new and unique additive printing processes and new materials. The result: lightweight, low-cost, flexible, thin, and conformable and highly efficient smart products with innumerable uses for consumer, commercial and military applications.