FlexTech Chosen to Manage Nationwide Flexible Hybrid Electronics Institute

FlexTech Chosen to Manage Nationwide Flexible Hybrid Electronics Institute

By Heidi Hoffman, FlexTech Alliance

On August 28, 2015, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) formally awarded FlexTech Alliance, SEMI’s Strategic Association Partner, management of the newest Manufacturing Innovation Institute (MII), for Flexible Hybrid Electronics (FHE).  DoD has committed $75 million over 5 Fiscal Years, and FlexTech identified an additional $96 million in commitments from companies, academic institutions and other public entities in the proposal phase.

The goal is of the Institute is to create processes that are replicable for volume manufacturing of flexible hybrid electronics, meaning devices that combine printed or other flexible electronics with bulk semiconductor devices.  Progress will be measured against DoD’s scale measuring Manufacturing Readiness Levels (MRLs) and range from 1-10.  The Institute will conduct projects to achieve MRL 7 over the next five years, a level reached when a prototype, system or subsystem is created in production environment.

Five key areas will be addressed to speed up manufacturing of FHE devices and to create a robust ecosystem, including: creation of suitable design tools, test and reliability protocols, scale up of key materials, integration of thinned devices and device and sensor integrated printing and packaging.  The Institute will rely heavily upon member-created roadmaps for technology direction.

Other Institute programs will complement the Institute’s success in the technology area. Education and Workforce Training is an important element in ensuring that the work done at the Institute can be perpetuated throughout the U.S. economy in the form of a well-trained workforce. Those who become familiar through formal education or on-the-job training will be critical to the successful development of a domestic FHE manufacturing sector. The Institute will also develop commercialization strategy in order to make the resulting manufacturing technologies widely available, as well as to develop sources of sustaining revenue for the Institute after the Federal funding ends.

DoD has been aware of the advantages in flexible printed hybrid electronics for reduction in weight and cost, and the promise of rapid fielding and increased performance, for many years, and has worked with FlexTech, and many other companies and institutions to create flexible demonstrators. However, a considerable gap exists between demonstrable flexible electronics in research and the big step of volume manufacturing. Thus, when the White House was identifying topics for their National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) initiatives, DoD supported the topic of Flexible Electronics, and more specifically, Flexible Hybrid Electronics (FHE). 

FlexTech has had significant experience in operating these type of public-private partnerships and expect to facilitate a fast and significant start to the FHEMII.  The Institute will have a hub in San Jose, California, and work closely with members across the country.

This newest MII is designed to be a highly-collaborative, pre-competitive effort among member companies, universities, non-profit organizations, and government entities. The Institute will be led by a management team in conjunction with a governing council composed of member and government representatives.

Membership in the FHEMII will be distinct from the SEMI and FlexTech membership.  Any organization interested in learning more should visit the website (www.FHEMII.com) to get more information on the status and register your interest in receiving additional information.  Membership documents will be available in October 2015.


Global Update

October 6, 2015