NextFlex helps to build flexible electronics infrastructure, workforce

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For Malcolm Thompson, leading a consortium is a lot like being a matchmaker. He is discreet and has a wide network. He also strives to understand his members’ goals and gain their trust. “They come to me and say, ‘We need help on some things,’ which can reveal a weakness,” said Thompson, executive director of NextFlex, a consortium in the flexible hybrid electronics (FHE) industry. “And we keep it completely to ourselves.” NextFlex was formed in 2015 under a five-year agreement between the FlexTech Alliance, a research and trade group, and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). Its mission is to facilitate innovation in FHE—an emerging technology—and foster domestic manufacturing of them, including workforce development. NextFlex_1920x1080.jpg Students from Branham High School in San Jose, Calif., learn how products are made at a visit to the Jabil Blue Sky Center, which houses some of the world’s cutting-edge technologies. Flexible hybrid electronics integrate thin silicon electronic devices, sensing elements, communications and power on non-traditional, flexible substrates.

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