Optomec, a leading global supplier of production grade additive manufacturing (AM) systems for 3D printed metals and 3D printed electronics, was awarded one of five development projects from NextFlex, to help bring Flexible Hybrid Electronics (FHE) to widespread adoption. The project will be based on a collaboration with development partners Lockheed Martin, Binghamton University, General Electric Company, Intrinsiq Materials, and the University of Maryland.
NextFlex is America’s FHE Manufacturing Institute and a leading force in the US manufacturing industry. FHE is a new class of lightweight, low cost, flexible, stretchable, conformable and efficient devices for the Internet of Things (IoT), medical, robotics and communication markets.
The project, entitled “Conformal Printing of Conductor and Dielectric Materials onto Complex 3D Surfaces” has a total value on $3.1 million. The total cost-shared value of contracts from all NextFlex project calls to date is $45 million, signaling the confidence of industry, academia and government leaders for bringing FHE mainstream.
“Optomec is committed to supporting industries’ growing need to deploy smart, connected devices that take advantage of data and cloud computing advances to improve performance and lower cost throughout the product life cycle”, said Optomec CEO, Dave Ramahi. “We are very excited to be part of this important project and to be working with our NextFlex partners to accelerate the development of FHE-enabled products.”
The goal of the project is to enable conformal printing of conductor and dielectric materials on complex 3D surfaces by advancing tooling, software and printing processes. Optomec’s contribution includes the upfront delivery of two Pilot Line systems to be installed at the NextFlex Technology Hub in San Jose, California and in New York using Optomec Aerosol Jet 5-axis (5x) printing systems. Additional existing Aerosol Jet systems will be made available at a number of the team member facilities. Advanced tool path generation software will enable the project team to print conformal circuitry at resolutions down to 10 microns onto 3D surfaces using Aerosol Jet 5x systems. As a result, Lockheed, the project lead, will deliver conformal sensors, 3D antenna structures and non-planar circuit routing demonstrators.