NextFlex Opens Flexible Hybrid Manufacturing Institute


SAN JOSE — NextFlex has opened America’s first and only Flexible Hybrid Electronics (FHE) Manufacturing Innovation Institute in Silicon Valley.

Dr. Malcolm Thompson, executive director of NextFlex, commented, “In just a year since NextFlex was announced, we have signed on 46 members, issued two project calls totaling more than $45 million with 60% cost shared by members and funding from various states.  And, equally exciting, is that our flexible hybrid electronics headquarters facility and pilot manufacturing line is open. The collaborative work of NextFlex and our members at this facility will allow companies in Silicon Valley and throughout the U.S. to leap-frog the barriers of cost and integration, and create a viable ecosystem that will enable a new era.”

Known for its start-up mentality and agile business model, NextFlex serves as a catalyst for collaboration and innovation among a collection of companies, academic and nonprofit institutions and government organizations from across the U.S., all focused on creating a robust FHE manufacturing infrastructure. NextFlex’s 34,000 square foot facility located in the heart of Silicon Valley will feature a state-of-the-art class 10,000 pilot manufacturing line in addition to laboratory space—all dedicated to the production of this burgeoning technology.

Approximately 40 companies such as Acellent, American Semiconductor, Boeing, Brewer Science, DuPont, E Ink, GE Global Research, HP Enterprise, i3 Electronics, Jabil, NASA, PARC, Uniqarta together with academia like Berkeley, Binghamton, Cal Poly, Purdue, Univ. of Mass. (Amherst and Lowell), UofA, have showcased their advancements in bringing this exciting technology to fruition at the grand opening last month.

Once in full production, FHE will usher in a new era of “electronics on everything.”  Intelligence will be taken out of the “boxes” or packages associated with traditional electronics like PCs, smartphones and tablets, and transplanted directly on to a variety of surfaces including the human body, enabling an entirely new breed of defense and commercial applications we haven’t imagined. But to develop these enabling FHEs, new manufacturing solutions are required and they come with significant integration challenges. Working alone, it would take years, perhaps decades, and unprecedented amounts of capital for a company to create the infrastructure to support mass production of FHEs. NextFlex, along with its members, are working to rapidly uncover and solve the complex manufacturing issues associated with production of flexible hybrid electronics, and ultimately create a manufacturing infrastructure that can efficiently be spun out to private industry.

NextFlex’s new facility is located at: 2244 Blach Place #150, San Jose, Calif., 95131.

FHE combines the ability to add electronics to new and unique materials that are part of our everyday lives, with the power of silicon ICs to create lightweight, low-cost, flexible, conformable and stretchable smart products to solve new problems and advance the efficiency of our world.

NextFlex was founded on August 28, 2015, through a Cooperative Agreement between the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and FlexTech Alliance. A public-private partnership, NextFlex is the seventh Manufacturing Innovation Institute funded through the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation to create, showcase, and deploy new capabilities and new manufacturing processes.

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