WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – The Air Force Research Laboratory and NextFlex recently settled on a seven-year funding agreement worth up to $154 million that includes funding from the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s Manufacturing Technology program.
The agreement focuses on defense manufacturing requirements to sustain NextFlex’s ongoing mission to drive manufacturing technology needs for OSD’s research and engineering modernization priorities.
NextFlex is a consortium of companies, academic institutions, non-profits and state, local and federal government partners with the shared goal of advancing the manufacture of flexible hybrid electronics in the U.S.
FHEs give everyday products the power of silicon integrated circuits by combining them with new and unique additive printing processes and materials. The result equals lightweight, low-cost, flexible, thin, conformable and highly efficient smart products with innumerable uses for consumer, commercial and military applications.
“With this new agreement, we are elated to carry on our productive enterprise with NextFlex and its members to further advance the state of the art of FHE,” said Dr. Giorgio Bazzan, AFRL program manager and Government Chief Technology Officer of NextFlex. “NextFlex will continue to support future members and Department of Defense missions.”
“We are excited to continue our partnership with NextFlex and its members, said Dr. Rich Vaia, Acting Chief Scientist of the Materials and Manufacturing Directorate. “The Flexible Hybrid Electronic manufacturing ecosystem did not exist five years ago,” continued Vaia. “Today these technologies are not only providing component solutions to our current platforms, but are revolutionizing our design concepts for future transformation capabilities for 2030.”
With the funding, NextFlex will update and extend its research and project support roadmaps into both existing and new areas of FHE technology and manufacturing, including project funding and member partnerships. The institute will also expand on the number of projects executed on behalf of and in partnership with DoD and other government agencies to achieve specific goals in support of these agencies’ missions.
NextFlex has built a competency in successfully working with multiple defense agencies for FHE related research, design, prototyping and project management. They are working to improve capabilities for future Defense platforms.
An important focus for the DoD is the warfighter in the field. NextFlex has numerous projects that focus on the development and manufacturing of devices for the warfighter including health monitoring, platform monitors, soldier authentication, 3D antenna systems, and soft robotics.
This agreement will advance the state of U.S. manufacturing and technology ecosystems for FHEs, while addressing DoD and commercial access to advanced capabilities. Growing the current and future FHE workforce is a monumental step toward many new inventions.
The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is the primary scientific research and development center for the Air Force and Space Force. AFRL plays an integral role in leading the discovery, development, and integration of affordable warfighting technologies for our air, space, and cyberspace force. With a workforce of more than 11,000 across nine technology areas and 40 other operations across the globe, AFRL provides a diverse portfolio of science and technology ranging from fundamental to advanced research and technology development. For more information, visit www.afresearchlab.com.