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U.S. creating National Manufacturing Innovation Institute

An institute to develop new hybrid electronic technologies is being created by the U.S. Department of Defense and the FlexTech Alliance, a consortium of more than 160 companies and institutions.

By Richard Tomkins
U.S. creating National Manufacturing Innovation Institute
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said the Defense Department will invest $75 million in the institute, which will be established in Silicon Valley, Calif. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Aug. 31 (UPI) -- The U.S. Defense Department is partnering with a major consortium to develop flexible hybrid electronic technologies.

The FlexTech Alliance consortium is composed of 96 companies, 41 universities, 14 state and local government organizations and 11 laboratories and nonprofit organizations.

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With the Department of Defense, they will create a National Manufacturing Innovation Institute to produce the technologies.

"Like the six other manufacturing innovation institutes established by President [Barack] Obama over the last three years, four of which DoD helped lead ... this will ensure that pioneering innovations needed to develop, manufacture and commercialize these cutting-edge electronics will happen right here in America," Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said in announcing the effort.

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"The reality, though, is ... we don't know all the applications this new technology will make possible -- that's the remarkable thing about innovation -- and it's another reason why America, and America's military, must get there first."

Carter said the Defense Department will invest $75 million in the institute, which will be established in Silicon Valley, Calif.

Hybrid electronics were described by Carter as technology that uses advanced flexible materials for circuits, communications, sensors and power and then combines them with thinned silicon chips. It will allow the shaping of electronics to platforms.

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"By seamlessly printing lightweight, flexible structural integrity sensors right onto the surfaces of ships and aircraft, or folding them into cracks and crevices where rigid circuit boards and bulky wiring could never fit, we'll be able to have real-time damage reports -- making the stuff of science fiction in that sense into reality."

The new technologies also will make lifesaving advances and improve mission effectiveness, the secretary said.

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