NextFlex Takes High Profile With Events And First Round Of Project Announcements

What’s new at the manufacturing institute for flexible hybrid electronics.

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NextFlex, FlexTech’s flexible hybrid electronics (FHE) manufacturing institute, has been headlining flexible electronics in a major way in the past few weeks. From hosting contingents from the White House and the Pentagon, Members of Congress and local dignitaries, to announcing new development projects and partners, this one-year old organization is off to a rapid start while highlighting advanced manufacturing in the U.S. and advancing the science and art of manufacturing intelligent electronics onto flexible substrates.

nextflex-image1Four development contracts for creating manufacturing processes have been awarded to teams of academics and corporations in the areas of smart wound dressings, attachment methods of ultra-thin chips, creation of mouth-guard biosensors, and ubiquitous integrated sensor systems. Teams receiving funding for these projects included Purdue University, Integra Life Sciences, Western Michigan University, Indiana University School of Medicine, California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly), Jabil Circuit, DuPont, NovaCentrix, Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), University of California at San Diego, Binghamton University, GE Global Research, i3 Electronics, Infinite Corridor Technologies, Rochester Institute of Technology, Analog Devices and Corning.

nextflex-image2NextFlex hosted an Opening Day for Innovation on Wednesday, August 31, at its new 34,000-square-foot facility in San Jose. The event drew more than 200 government dignitaries, state and local officials, and representatives from companies and universities across the U.S. ‒ all vested in building a manufacturing ecosystem and workforce for FHE. Just one year ago FlexTech was awarded $75 million in federal funding and announced the cooperative agreement to establish this Manufacturing Innovation Institute.

Opening remarks were delivered by NextFlex Executive Director Dr. Malcolm J. Thompson and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, who enthusiastically applauded NextFlex for choosing to make its home base in the heart of Silicon Valley. Immediately following was a ribbon-cutting ceremony opening the doors to the new state-of-the-art facility, which features a pilot manufacturing line and laboratory, along with sizeable office space to house member companies and other partners for onsite development and collaboration to resolve FHE manufacturing challenges—quickly and efficiently.

Dr. Thompson also noted that, without a collaborative/ecosystem approach, it would take years and unprecedented amounts of capital for a company to create the infrastructure to support mass production of FHE – a challenge NextFlex is circumventing with the help of its members. Together, he observed, they are working to rapidly solve complex FHE manufacturing issues and get these amazing new products to market more quickly.

nextflex-image3aOn Wednesday, September 14, NextFlex hosted Dr. Jill Biden for a discussion with Silicon Valley educational and civic leaders on an initiative for free community college. The vice president’s wife met with tech and manufacturing leaders, chancellors and community college presidents, and other important stakeholders. The group explored America’s College Promise initiative, a proposal announced by President Barack Obama last year that would provide free community college for two years to “responsible students”. Dr. Thompson took the opportunity to address the workforce initiatives which make up a critical part of the NextFlex mission, led Guy Parmeter on the NextFlex staff.

NextFlex continues to build its membership and technical programs throughout the year and is currently evaluating a second phase of technical proposals, while further refining and developing industry roadmaps for FHE manufacturing.