UMass Lowell NextFlex Initiative
The Center for Nanomanufacturing is a founding partner of the Flexible Hybrid Electronics Manufacturing Innovation Institute (FHE-MII), called NextFlex. This Institute is the seventh of President Obama’s National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI). The common objective of the NNMI is to accelerate development and adoption of cutting-edge manufacturing technologies for making new, globally competitive products and consequently creating high-quality manufacturing jobs and enhancing America’s competitiveness. There are many applications for flexible electronics such as sensors, electronics, displays, RFID and wearables. The research at UMass Lowell focuses on the enabling technology of novel, tailorable substrates for flexible hybrid electronics.
Lead by Professors Joey Mead and Julie Chen, UMass Lowell NextFlex initiative gathers a team of twenty six faculty members from eight different departments, with a prevailing expertise in plastics and mechanical engineering. UMass Lowell combined competences is a catalyst for flexible hybrid electronics developments throughout the value chain from FHE materials such as compounding and processing of new substrates, to integrated printing and packaging from 2D and 3D printing technologies and product prototype for wearable health monitoring, sensor and soft robotics programming.
This Nanomanufacturing Center Collaborative effort supports NextFlex’s goals:
- Manufacturing of Novel Substrates
- Designer substrates
- Control of interface for heterogeneous integration
- Lower cost
- Development of Compatible inks
- Temperature compatibility between inks and substrates
- Control of wetting spread of inks
- Enabling Nanotechnology
- Modeling, Design, and Testing
- Manufacturing scale-up – roll-to-roll