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Commercial Services

We know how to design, build and bend Electronics
— The future is flexible

Flexible Hybrid Electronics (FHE) combine the flexibility and low cost of printed plastic film substrates with the performance of semiconductor devices to create a new category of flexible electronics that can bend, stretch, and conform to any shape.

In support of our mission to advance printed flexible electronics manufacturing in the U.S., our facility has two cleanrooms and lab space for electronics printing, device integration and testing and measurement, that are fully compliant with ITAR’s (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) quality standard requirements for military electronics, materials, and guidance equipment manufacturing as well as the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) medical device manufacturing Quality Systems Regulations (QSR) for good manufacturing practices.

With this approach, there are no rigid printed circuit boards or chip packages, no high-temperature solder processes, and yet, no compromises in system performance.

Not only can flexible electronics replace rigid systems in current applications, they can also enable applications that do not currently exist, such as smart bandages for wound monitoring and treatment, conformable electronics for curved surfaces on aircraft or vehicles, and flexible electronics for robotic applications.

In addition to its ongoing collaborative programs with members, NextFlex is developing flexible hybrid electronics manufacturing with system and component manufacturers and designers, product developers, and materials and equipment providers.

NextFlex Application Expertise

UAV / Satellite / Aerospace

With a rapid push toward fly by wire and unmanned platforms, the aerospace industry has sought a variety of technological developments, especially those enabled by flexible hybrid electronics, to impact communication systems, navigation & surveillance systems, flight control & management systems, mission/tactical systems, and electrical & emergency systems. And because the enabling technology must be streamlined for speed and light-weight for cost, FHE finds itself front and center in the evolution of the industry. Similarly, the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) in various commercial applications, such as monitoring, surveying and mapping, precision agriculture, aerial remote sensing, and product delivery increases, is resulting in even greater increased demand for NextFlex developed flexible electronics components.

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RF & Communications

A key space that has seen explosive growth in military, commercial and communications is that of radio frequency (RF). From the 77GHz radar range-finding for automotive, to electronic warfare systems to wideband satellite communications to 5G connectivity, or BTLE enabled wearable electronics, or IOT protocols like SigFox and LORA or even true mesh networks, RF is one area where flexible hybrid electronics growth continues to accelerate. As a result of this escalating demand for radio frequency components and innovative materials used in manufacturing these devices, NextFlex is playing a lead role in multiple segments within the RF and communications space building everything from NFC and BTLE devices, to complex AESA structures for electronic warfare.

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Medical Devices & Wearable Electronics

The recent growth in activity around digital health is the culmination of years of development in the historically disparate fields of advanced wearable electronics and medical sensors, data science, security, genomics, and personalized medicine. But what is truly poised to deliver on the long-held vision for improved patient wellness at lower costs, is the addition of better data from better flexible sensors, which both benefit from NextFlex’s leadership in advancing the development of flexible hybrid electronics. FHE is enabling ultrathin and flexible, wearable electronics that can sample biomarkers in sweat, tears, saliva and interstitial fluid as well as conventional skin surface sensors. Through new ways to manufacture wearable electronics, intelligent devices, and integrated sensor fusion approaches, printed flexible electronics are enabling medical quality data that ties to gold standards in the medical community. These new devices and wearable electronics encompass a broad range of products addressing both consumer and industrial applications and include everything from sports and activity trackers, to healthcare monitors, smart clothing, watches and glasses, and wearable 3D motion trackers. Current FHE enabled devices support both diagnostic and therapeutic applications and are deployed in handhelds, headbands, straps, shoe sensors and a new and emerging class of wearables.

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Automotive Electronics

As vehicles continue to get smarter and more electronically complex, new challenges are being introduced throughout the development process. Factor in consumer preference considerations and increasing safety requirements, plus the need for savvy and skilled electronics design, prototyping and pilot scale manufacturing capabilities are growing within the automotive PCB market. Early flexible hybrid electronics applications are addressing everything from Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and basic automotive safety components that utilize FHE, to body comfort and vehicle lighting and powertrain systems.

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Soft Robotics

Whether it’s the ability to fly through the air, race across land, or read your mind (ok, maybe not read your mind but certainly the state of your overall health), soft robots are enabling high adaptability and flexibility for accomplishing routine tasks in addition to the improved safety when working with, and around, humans especially in a manufacturing environment. With their unlimited strength and inexhaustible stamina, flexible hybrid electronics-enabled soft robots (and NextFlex and its members) have found early application in the fields of medicine and manufacturing in particular. Robotic exoskeletons designed for giving mobility back to those who have lost it, and/or assisting with moving and lifting objects (e.g., crates, cartons and boxes) to reduce workplace injury, are prime examples of early soft robotic applications. Similarly, assistive soft robotics are proving useful to first responders and medical technicians for providing safer and better handling of patients and incapacitated individuals.

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Asset & Structural Health Monitoring

As infrastructure ages and complex systems such as commercial airlines require increased maintenance to keep them operational, intelligent systems that can trigger maintenance and improvements based on the actual state of wear have become essential. These newly developed asset monitoring solutions are able to monitor the structural integrity of everything from bridges, buildings, dams, levees, tunnels and other civil infrastructure, to aircraft, wind turbines, and other large structures. As it relates to NextFlex and flexible hybrid electronics innovation, the asset monitoring market can be segmented into two categories, wired and wireless, and includes applications impacting civil infrastructure, aerospace & defense, energy, mining, and industrial machinery, automotive, transportation, and marine structures. At present, FHE is improving both the sensors that collect the structural data as well as the hardware to process the flexible sensor inputs that inform the analytics tools providing actionable insights from the data collected.

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