Sensor Films Contracts for Inkjet System

SANTA CLARA, CA | Sensor Films, a manufacturer of high-speed, large-format, multi-material inkjet deposition systems, has been awarded a multi-million-dollar contract from NextFlex, America’s Flexible Hybrid Electronics Manufacturing Institute. The purpose of the grant is to build a fully integrated in-line prototype and production-scale system for delivering “drop-on-demand” deposition of functional inks with seamless integration of surface-mounted semiconductor components on flexible substrates. 

The award is part of a U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) funded program with NextFlex to establish a Manufacturing Innovation Institute for Flexible Hybrid Electronics at the organization’s training, testing, and production facility in San Jose, CA. The DOD award, which will be administered by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), amounts to $75 million in federal funding over a five-year period that is being matched by nearly $100 million in cost sharing from multiple non-federal sources.

Sensor Films president Peter Hessney says the SFI Starlight FHE 3000 Digital Manufacturing System, to be developed jointly with advanced manufacturing partners NovaCentrix and Universal Instruments, “will be the first platform to provide digital drop-on-demand deposition of functional electronic materials on cut-sheet substrates and incorporate in-line photonic curing and seamless integration of surface-mounted components.”

Hessney adds, “This versatile, digital system will have in-line capabilities that enable rapid prototyping and economic short-run production of flexible hybrid electronic devices for NextFlex members and their industrial partners.”

“Flexible Hybrid Electronics has the potential to re-shape the world we live in,” says Jason Marsh, Nextflex Director of Technology, “from the electronic wearable devices, to medical health monitoring, to the ubiquitous sensing of the world around us—often referred to as the Internet of Things. We are driving to integrate aspects of the printed circuit industry, the graphics printing industry, and the electronic assembly and packaging industries to achieve these applications. Approaches such as these demonstrate exciting potential.”

“We are excited that one of our PulseForge photonic curing tools has been selected for integration into SFI’s Starlight additive manufacturing platform as part of the NextFlex FHE initiative,” says Stan Farnsworth, chief marketing officer, Novacentrix. “This will ensure rapid curing and proper sintering of conductive materials on the advanced sheet-based conductive inkjet printing system and allow the widest range of materials to be economically utilized. We envision SFI’s Starlight world-class in-line system as a crucial next step for furthering flexible and hybrid electronics development and adoption, and are pleased to be a part of the initiative.”

“We’re pleased to be a part of the SFI Starlight System—NextFlex FHE award,” says Glenn Ferris, VP of marketing, Universal Instruments. “Our Uflex platform will be configured in-line with the SFI Starlight System to support curing with critical ‘pick and place,’ dispensing, and other key processes to enable the next generation of FHE components to be manufactured cost effectively.”

Hessney stated several end-user electronics and consumer products partners are committed to advancing this scalable in-line manufacturing platform to future full-scale production processes, while addressing several FHE manufacturing challenges to make flexible sensor systems and wearables, among other applications.

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