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The purpose of this Request for Information is to provide public notification of research areas of interest to NextFlex in support of the Department of Defense (DoD) and advancing FHE manufacturing in the United States.

Problem Statement: Engineers need a method to accurately stitch together adjacent x-ray volumes and correct for warping in PCBs in order to form a cohesive 3D representation of the CCA.

Context: To effectively deal with emerging technical challenges, the Department of Defense must use innovative technologies, develop a resilient workforce, and embrace new ways of conducting business. The Tools and Techniques (T2) Program offers a repeatable and consistent process to quickly evaluate and adopt new capabilities that are essential for accomplishing mission-critical goals. The T2 Program aims to identify, evaluate, and act on innovation opportunities that are aligned with mission objectives and enable the rapid pursuit and adoption of transformative capabilities.

Department of Defense engineers need to non-destructively reverse engineer circuit card assemblies (CCAs), either to redesign obsolete boards or for hardware trust and assurance. In the CCA reverse engineering process, engineers scan CCAs using x-ray computed tomography, such as North Star Imaging systems, to generate a set of images representing internal printed circuit board (PCB) layers. Depending on the size of the CCA, these x-ray scans may only capture a specific section of the board, representing a volume of different layers and sections of a board. As a result, multiple x-ray volumes capturing sections of the board need to be stitched together to form a cohesive 3D representation of the CCA. The data associated with these x-ray volumes may vary anywhere from 4 GB to over 40 GB per volume. However, most PCBs in a CCA contain warping due to manufacturing defects, long-term usage, and temperature distortions. For multilayer PCBs, this warping causes interference between adjacent layers, thereby limiting understanding of the internal PCB design. Additionally, engineers must keep the PCBs populated with components while scanning, and the board components must function within manufacturer specifications following x-ray scanning.

Read the full RFI document here.

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