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NextFlex has designated Binghamton University to be the New York “Node” for its flexible hybrid electronics (FHE) initiative. As the NextFlex New York Node, Binghamton will design, develop and manufacture tools; process materials and products for flexible hybrid electronics; and attract, train and employ an advanced manufacturing workforce, building on the region’s existing electronics manufacturing base.
“Binghamton University has been a leader in the advancement of flexible electronics manufacturing for more than a decade,” said Mark Poliks, professor of systems science and industrial engineering and director of the Center for Advanced Microelectronics Manufacturing (CAMM). “It was our expertise and strong industry partnerships that solidified New York as a powerful resource within this NextFlex alliance. Our University, along with our industry and academic collaborators, have continued to excel in advancing flexible hybrid electronics technologies, and we are pleased to be recognized officially as the New York Node for this important initiative.”
A “node” is a designation aimed at increasing the volume, pace and coordination of FHE development in its respective region. Nodes are developed to foster collaboration and benefit NextFlex members by providing access to facilities, equipment and infrastructure to fast-track FHE design, development and manufacturing adoption. A node supports the national NextFlex mission, which is to facilitate FHE technology innovation, accelerate the development of the manufacturing workforce and promote sustainable advanced-manufacturing ecosystems in the U.S. This FHE initiative focuses on defense, medical and industry applications, including health and human performance monitoring patches, medical devices, sensors, imaging systems, prosthetic devices, energy storage and energy harvesting devices. One specific application could be something as simple as a bandage that can sense when a wound is infected.
“We are pleased to announce our first two regional nodes, in New York and Massachusetts, that will support the NextFlex community by bringing a concentration of companies, universities and economic development groups together to grow the community and support FHE development,” said Scott Miller, director of strategic programs at NextFlex. “Building upon existing capabilities, investments and partnerships will immediately jump-start the success of these regional nodes.”
The New York Node will anchor a regional mechanism for workforce development activities and support the emerging regional supply chain, including materials suppliers, system integrators, equipment manufacturers, academic institutions and research centers. The node will extend cost-effective access to existing lab and pilot manufacturing facilities based at Binghamton University and the Rochester Institute of Technology to the NextFlex member community for collaborative development of FHE and seek additional opportunities to expand these facilities.
“Bridging the gap between applied research and large-scale product manufacturing is what this NextFlex initiative is all about,” said Binghamton University President Harvey Stenger. “We are so proud to play such an important role in this nationwide effort, and today’s announcement once again solidifies Binghamton’s reputation as a leader in flexible electronics research and development.”
“Our campus has a strong history of bringing academia and industry together to produce technological innovations,” said Binghamton University Vice President for Research Bahgat Sammakia. “Mark Poliks is to be commended not only for his work with the NextFlex initiative and all of our external partners, but also for the work he does inside the classroom teaching and preparing the engineers of the future to continue Binghamton’s innovative legacy.”
A number of other officials also commented on the designation for Binghamton:
“We’re thrilled with NextFlex’s move to establish a regional node at Binghamton University, which has long been a hub for cultivating top engineering talent and driving world-class research in the electronics sector,” said James Leblanc, technology director-electronics at GE Global Research. “GE Global Research has a long and proud history of collaboration with the University, and is currently teaming with them and NextFlex on innovative projects such as the development of wearable medical devices. This new node will do even more to address key technical and supply chain challenges, as we move toward electronics in more non-traditional forms, such as wearable devices and more highly integrated industrial solutions.”
“Establishing a node at Binghamton University will help NextFlex accelerate its efforts to build a national ecosystem in Flexible Hybrid Electronics (FHE),” said Benjamin Leever, government chief technology officer for NextFlex. “Based on its expertise in both FHE fabrication and electronics reliability combined with its history of industrial collaboration, the Binghamton node will be well positioned to rapidly deliver innovations.”
“Lockheed Martin is pleased to support this initiative and looks forward to opportunities for collaboration with other NextFlex partners to address cross-cutting industry challenges and support University workforce development activities,” said Paula Hartley, Rotary and Mission Systems vice president and Owego general manager. “We are excited about the proposed collaboration and research, development and commercialization opportunities enabled through the NextFlex Node. This initiative will enhance business opportunities in the areas of medical, industrial, defense, materials and equipment.”
Binghamton University was part of the NextFlex nationwide team that competed in 2015 and won a Department of Defense $75 million, five-year award to advance flexible hybrid electronics manufacturing. New York State’s Empire State Development committed $20 million in matching funds for projects originated by the New York Node as part of its Upstate Revitalization Southern Tier Soaring initiative.
Binghamton has already collaborated on a handful of projects with New York-based companies and academic institutions including: Corning Inc., GE Global Research, Lockheed Martin, i3 Electronics, Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and many others.