Session 5: FHE Manufacturing Methods I
NextFlex Roadmap for a Flexible Hybrid Electronics Manufacturing Ecosystem
Tuesday, June 20, 2017
2:15 PM - 2:40 PM
In August 2015, the Department of Defense announced a $171M initiative to establish a Flexible Hybrid Electronics (FHE) Manufacturing Innovation Institute, subsequently named NextFlex, based in San Jose, CA. The mission of NextFlex is to catalyze a domestic manufacturing ecosystem in FHE, with an initial focus in human performance monitoring/wearable medical devices, asset monitoring/Internet of Things, flexible array antennas, and soft robotics. The key elements of NextFlex include: (1) Institute-funded project calls in which company and university members partner to address the pervasive manufacturing gaps, (2) a hub facility in San Jose that will provide access to state-of-the-art FHE manufacturing and characterization facilities as well as low-volume manufacturing services, and (3) a robust education and workforce development program that spans from K-12 outreach activities to courses to retrain the existing manufacturing workforce. This presentation will provide a high-level overview of the NextFlex roadmaps for its Manufacturing Thrust Areas and Technology Platform Demonstrators, which serve as the basis for our investment strategy. The presentation will also describe the process by which approximately 200 subject matter experts have worked together in 9 technical working groups over the last 18 months to build the roadmaps. Finally, we will briefly describe a few of the NextFlex projects currently underway to address the manufacturing and technology gaps identified through this process.
Benjamin Leever is currently a Senior Materials Engineer in the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Soft Matter Materials Branch. His primary roles are Advanced Develoipment Team Leader and Government Chief Technology Officer of NextFlex, a $170M public-private partnership established to create a domestic manufacturing ecosystem in flexible hybrid electronics. In support of AFRL’s external investments in flexible electronics and biomaterials, Dr. Leever determines technical strategy, manages AFRL contracts, and establishes industrial, academic, and governmental collaborations. He also leads the directorate’s Energy Integrated Product Team and respresents the directorate on numerous domestic and international power & energy and additive manufacturing working groups.
Prior to assuming his current duties, Dr. Leever led a research team focused on the development and modeling of multifunctional materials for structural power applications. Dr. Leever began his career at AFRL in the Manufacturing Technology Division, where he managed programs related to electro-optics systems. He earned a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Cincinnati and a Ph.D. in Materials Science & Engineering from Northwestern University.
Air Force Research Laboratory