Obama Administration Announces New Flexible Hybrid Electronics Manufacturing Innovation Hub in San Jose, CA


(August 28, 2015) Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, the seventh of nine new manufacturing institutes underway will invest $171 million in advancing next-generation flexible hybrid electronics manufacturing, fostering American leadership in manufacturing technologies from smart bandages to self-monitoring weapons systems to wearable devices.

Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter will announce today that the FlexTech Alliance, a public-private manufacturing consortium based in San Jose, California, will lead a new Manufacturing Innovation Institute to secure U.S. leadership in next-generation bendable and wearable electronic devices. Flexible hybrid electronics have the power to unleash wearable devices to improve medical health monitoring and personal fitness; soft robotics to care for the elderly or assist wounded soldiers; and light weight sensors embedded into the very trellises and fibers of roads, bridges, and, and other structures across the globe.

The Department of Defense is awarding the new Manufacturing Innovation Institute for Flexible Hybrid Electronics to lead a consortium of 162 companies, nonprofits, labs, and universities headquartered in San Jose, CA at the heart of Silicon Valley. The new institute is the seventh awarded of nine manufacturing innovation institutes already launched by the Administration and represents the latest outgrowth of the Pentagon’s commitment to build collaborative innovation hubs throughout the tech community.

With a total investment of over $171 million—$75 million in federal funds, and more than $96 million in non-federal contributions—the announcement marks the first manufacturing institute launched that will be headquartered on the West Coast. The winning consortium unites major electronics and semiconductor companies like Applied Materials, Apple, United Technologies, Hewlett Packard, and Qualcomm with end users like Boeing, General Motors, the Cleveland Clinic, Corning, and Motorola that can embed these flexible, bendable electronics into everything from medical devices to supersonic jets while also building on the cutting-edge research underway at partner universities such as Stanford, UC Berkeley, Harvard, and MIT.

After a decade of decline in the 2000s, when 40 percent of all large factories closed their doors, American manufacturing is adding jobs at its fastest rate in decades, with nearly 900,000 new manufacturing jobs created since February 2010. Today’s new action is the kind of investment we need to build on this progress, creating the foundation for American manufacturing leadership for years to come.

From the very first manufacturing institute, pioneering novel 3D printing technologies in Youngstown, OH to the most recently awarded institute pushing the boundaries on integrated photonics in Rochester, NY—each institute is part of a growing network dedicated to securing U.S. leadership in the emerging technologies required to win the next generation of advanced manufacturing and attract more jobs and investment to the United States. With this seventh manufacturing innovation institute, the Administration has invested over $500 million matched by over $1 billion in non-federal funds across industry, academia, and local governments, demonstrating the strong demand for these unique partnerships to advance U.S. manufacturing capabilities.

Bridging the gap between applied research and product development, each institute brings together companies, universities, other academic and training institutions, and Federal agencies to co-invest in key emerging technology areas that can encourage investment and production in the U.S.  This latest institute, led by FlexTech Alliance, will bridge advanced research and commercial product development, yielding critical defense and telecommunications advances—while also investing in education and workforce development to train and position the next generation of scientists, engineers and technicians to manufacture flexible, hybrid electronics in the United States.

Flexible hybrid electronics manufacturing is an innovative process at the intersection of the electronics industry and the high-precision printing industry, with the power to create sensors that can be lighter in weight, or conform to the curves of a human body, and stretch across the shape of an object or structure—all while preserving the full operational integrity of traditional electronic architectures.  Integrating ultra-thin silicon components—through high precision handling, printing with conductive and active inks, and pasting on stretchable substrates—flexible hybrid technologies can revolutionize how we wear and monitor our own physiology information to optimize health and lifestyles, while improving the connectivity of devices through the “Internet of Things.”

The Administration is also calling on Congress to make a clear choice: We can make critical bipartisan investments to strengthen manufacturing across the United States, laying a strong foundation for good jobs and economic growth—or we can pull back, letting other countries and their workers take the lead. The President’s Fiscal Year 2016 Budget would strengthen America’s leadership in advanced manufacturing, providing the resources to grow the NNMI to 16 institutes by the end of 2016 and up to 45 institutes over a decade. In contrast, the House and Senate funding bills would entrench harmful "sequester" levels of funding, putting critical investments in advanced manufacturing, workforce development and training, and innovation at risk.

Background on the Manufacturing Innovation Institute for Flexible Hybrid Electronics

The new institute the Department of Defense is awarding today will focus on cutting-edge research in hybrid flexible electronics manufacturing — leveraging high performance packaging and printing techniques, to integrate multiple silicon circuits, and sensors, on a single stretchable or wearable platform. By investing in the expansion of the flexible hybrid electronics ecosystem, the institute will catalyze new device thinning processes, scale-up novel hybrid electronic materials, and design new testing and modelling tools – ultimately improving the performance and reliability of applications in medical monitoring, healthcare delivery, and device-to-device communications tools. 

By packaging electronic components on flexible stretchable substrate, technologies enabled through these innovative manufacturing processes will preserve the full operation of traditional electronic circuits in wearable and conformable architectures. These highly functional devices can be attached to curved, irregular and often stretched across buildings, objects, and humans – leading to 21st century applications including:

  • Revolutionizing electronic wearable information devices to monitor vital signs and physical states to optimize health and lifestyles decisions.
  • Dramatically improving medical technology delivery—through biomarkers and device implants—which can monitor vital signs for the elderly, those with chronic conditions, and our soldiers during combat. 
  • Enabling embedded sensors to monitor the state of commercial automobiles and aircrafts operating in harsh environments such as undersea pressures or extreme temperatures.
  • Improving security operations, with applications in light weight robotics, as well as, next generation imaging and sensing capabilities, used across the entire spectrum of land, air, sea, and space-based systems.
  • Dramatically reducing the electronic systems package size and weight through electronics that conform to complex shapes such as aircraft wings or unattended vehicle platforms, and integrating electronics in clothing and fabrics.

Sitting at the intersection of high precision printing, and next generation sensors, flexible hybrid electronics is an innovative manufacturing sector—and investing in it is essential to meeting our technology and economic needs in the decades ahead. The market for flexible hybrid electronics manufacturing has the potential for dramatic growth across the wearable markets, medical devices, and the “Internet of Things.” But many manufacturers—especially small businesses—have inadequate capital to penetrate it.  The new institute will focus on bringing these technologies down the cost curve, conducting applied research across industry and academia, and supporting a robust materials supply chain, letting American companies of all sizes lead in their development.

The Manufacturing Innovation Institute will work to develop lower-cost, higher-speed, and more efficient manufacturing processes for flexible hybrid electronics by:

  • Developing an end-to-end stretchable electronics ‘ecosystem’ in the U.S., including access to integrated design tools, high precision printing and packaging facilities, assembly and testing, and workforce development. 
  • Creating a common manufacturing platform, with standards and design rules, making it easier to scale the technology across multiple markets and drive performance, cost, and scaling requirements.
  • Assembling a world-class team of organizations from across the electronics industry, including leading manufacturers, silicon and other material suppliers, software developers, and government and academia.
  • Pairing electronics companies (like FLEXCon, i3, and Lumitex) with key end users of flexible senor platforms (like Cleveland Clinic for medical monitoring and Hewlett Packard for high performance printing) and top research universities (like the University of California, Berkeley, with its award winning flexible electronics circuitry research labs, and San Jose State University, with advanced electronics training programs).

The winning team, led by the FlexibleTech Alliance and headquartered in San Jose, CA, includes the following 96 key partners and 66 additional consortia members across the country:

96 Companies: 4D Technology, ABRe , Acellent Technologies, Advantest Akron Polymer Systems, AlphaMicron, American Semiconductor, Apple, ANSYS, Applied Materials, Bestronics, Blue Spark Technologies, BMNT Partners, Boeing Co., Brewer Science, Butler Technologies, Carpe Diem Technologies, Chasm Technologies, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland Medical Devices, Corning, Cubbison Company, Domtar, Dupont Plates, Dupont Teijin Films, E Ink, Eastman Chemical Company, Eli Lilly and Company, EMD Milipore, EnerDel, Engineered Materials Systems, ENrG, ExSys Technology, FLEXcon, Flex, Fujifilm Dimatix, General Dynamics Land Systems, General Motors, General Electric, GrafTech, HANA Microdisplay Technologies, Harper Corporation, Harris Corporation, Henkel AG, HP, i3 Electronics, IMA Life, Imprint Energy, Integrated Deposition Solutions, Intrinsiq Materials, IQRMI, Jabil Circuit, John Deere, Kellogg Company, Kent Displays, Kodak, Landauer, LasX, Lockheed Martin, Lumitex, Mac Arthur Corporation, Mark Andy, MC10, MIRWEC Films, Molex,  Motorola Mobility, Novacentrix, ON Semiconductor, Optomec, Orbital Research, PARC, a Xerox Company, Polyera, Quality Electrodynamics, Qualcomm, Raytheon Company, Roche Diagnostics, SABIC, SAIC, Sandisk, Sensics, Si2, SmarchShape, Smith&Nephew, SPEC Sensors, Sonoran Analytical Instruments and Diagnostics, SSI Electronics, Surfx Technologies, Sun-Tec, Thin Film Technology, TI, TTM Technologies, UES, Uniqarta, United Technologies Research Center, Valtronic Technologies, and Vitriflex.

11 Laboratories and Non-profit Organizations: Argonne National Laboratory, Battery Innovation Center, Hughes Research Labs, IPC, MEMS Industry Group, RTI International, SEMI, Semiconductor Research Corporation, Sharp Labs of America, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, and SRI International 

41 Colleges and Other Schools: Auburn University, California State Polytechnic University, Case Western Reserve University, Clemson University, Cornell University, Georgia Tech University, Harvard University, Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis (IUPUI), Kalamazoo Valley Community College, Kalamazoo Valley Groves Center, Kent State University - Liquid Crystal Institute, Lehigh University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, New York University, North Dakota State University, Northeastern University, Northwestern University, Princeton University, Purdue University, Rochester Institute of Technology, San Jose State University,  Stanford University, State University of New York at Binghamton, University of California – Berkeley, University of California - Los Angeles, University of California - Santa Barbara, University of California  - San Diego, University of California - San Francisco, University of Massachusetts – Amherst, University of Massachusetts –Lowell, University of Akron,  University of Akron - National Polymer Innovation Center, University of Arizona - Arizona Center for Integrated Medicine, University of Arkansas, University of Central Florida, University of Colorado – Boulder,  University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Michigan, University of Texas at Austin – NASCENT, University of Pennsylvania, and Western Michigan University

14 State Government and Regional Organizations: The State of Alabama, the State of California – GoBiz, the State of Connecticut, the State of Indiana, iGate Innovation Hub, Jobs Ohio, Joint Venture Silicon Valley, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, New York:  Empire State Development, the City of San Francisco, the City of San Jose, Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce, SouthWest Michigan First, and Team NEO.

27 States: Arkansas, Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.

                                                        ###

***This post originally appeared on whitehouse.gov