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January 22 Project Update Report

by Scott Miller

1. On January 7, 2020 Boeing presented the 1st quarterly update on their 18-month PC 4.0 project, “Multilayer Printed Transmit Antenna with Integrated Electronics.” This project will mature the manufacturability of multilayer flexible circuit boards with integrated electronics capable of providing effective heat dissipation for medium-to high-power (i.e., 1 W to 10 W) packaged electronics. The webinar reviewed the overall project plan and Q1 accomplishments. During this quarter the team began material (ink/substrate) evaluations, assessed assembly approaches based on embedded packaged components, and began electrical testing of assembled components. The full recording of this quarterly update is stored in the NextFlex member portal.

2. On Jan 9, 2020 the team co-led by Eastman Chemical and the University of Massachusetts Lowell presented the 1st quarterly update on their 12-month NextFlex-funded PC 4.0 project, “Application Responsive Encapsulation Processes for FHE Devices.” The project addresses the gap that currently exists because encapsulation solutions for rigid PCBs do not conform to the flex/stretch application requirements or mechanical and environmental protection for FHE devices. The team is developing materials and manufacturing approaches and demonstrating them on three separate FHE device use cases to define a broader encapsulation design approach. The three devices come from Lockheed Martin (a bare-die mm-wave circuit), Acellent (integrated sensor network-based SMART layer), and NextFlex (Arduino-compatible microcontroller, version 1.5). The webinar reviewed application requirements and material / process options and down-selection. The full recording of this quarterly update is stored in the NextFlex member portal.

EMG patch during physiological testing

3. On Jan 16, 2020, the quarterly update webinar on the Project Call 3, “Flexible Skin Sensing to Control a Soft Robotic Knee Exoskeleton,” led by Lockheed & Georgia Tech was presented. The 5th Quarter efforts continue to make headway through all major tasks. Fifty (50) Electromyography (EMG) Epidermal Electronics patches have been produced and validated, while efforts to resolve technical challenges with the EMG/Temperature/Impedance and EMG Array design continue. The structural prototype of the exoskeleton frame was completed to accommodate the new pneumatic artificial muscle (PAM) solution while the conformal garment base layer design is worked in parallel. Along with the new PAM solution, the Proportional Myoelectric Controllers continue their development in advance of validation of the soft knee exoskeleton prototype. The full recording of this quarterly update is stored in the NextFlex member portal.