The fundamental idea of these institutes is that they bridge the current gap between basic research and product development and
fielding. They also provide access in the U.S. to establishing these technologies that can hit the performance capabilities of future defense and
commercial systems. It really gets to this being a cooperative agreement
and not a contract.
A typical DoD contract, we would spell out very specific requirements
that the contractor would have to fulfill in executing that contract. In a
cooperative agreement, it’s different in that we set forth goals and then
come up joint ways on how those can be achieved. We do that in a way
that both can benefit the DoD, every branch in the services and the commercial industry.
The agreement focuses on the area of flexible hybrid electronics. The
basic goal of the corporative agreement, and of all of these institutes, is to
create the manufacturing ecosystem into a particular focus area, and in
this case it’s for flexible hybrid electronics. The basic premise is that flexible hybrid electronics could have a transformational impact on the DoD.
We target areas, specifically, where there is not already an existing manufacturing ecosystem. One of the goals of these institutes, if you listen to
President Barack Obama, is to revitalize manufacturing in the United
States. So we look for opportunities to do that where there’s not an estab-
FlexTech Alliance to Focus
On Flexible Hybrid Electronics
The Department of Defense (DoD)
awarded San Jose, Calif.-based
FlexTech Alliance a cooperative
agreement on Aug. 28 to establish
and manage a Manufacturing Innovation Institute (MII) for flexible
hybrid electronics (FHE). This is
the seventh of nine such manufacturing institutes to be launched, and
the fifth of six manufacturing institutes led by the DoD. Part of the
National Network for Manufacturing Innovation, this newest
institute will bring the best minds
from government, industry and academia together to advance U.S.
leadership in manufacturing FHE.
FlexTech Alliance’s MII will be the
first to be headquartered on the
West Coast. The DoD’s Manufacturing Technology Program Office oversees the MIIs.
FHE manufacturing involves the
innovative production of electronics
and sensors packaging through new
techniques in electronic device handling and high-precision printing on
flexible, stretchable substrates. The
potential array of products range
from wearable devices to improved
medical health-monitoring technologies. The technologies promise
dual-use applications in the consumer economy and the development of military solutions for the
warfighter. FlexTech Alliance, a research consortium and trade association, successfully proposed a San
Jose-based hub-and-node approach
to create the FHE MII, which comprises 96 companies, 11 laboratories
and nonprofits, 42 universities, and
14 state and regional organizations.
Flexible Hybrid Electronics, such as Thin Film’s temperature sensing platform,
involves producing electronics and sensors packaging through new techniques in electronic device handling and high-precision printing on flexible,