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© andreypopov dreamstime.com Business | September 07, 2016

Eastman - a founding member in new Silicon Valley cooperative

Eastman Chemical Company is one of the founders of a public-private cooperative in Silicon Valley that recently unveiled a manufacturing facility where Eastman and other members will collaborate to develop wearable electronic devices and other next-generation technology.
Elected officials joined representatives from the U.S. Department of Defense and others to christen the San Jose, California, headquarters and research facility of NextFlex America’s Flexible Hybrid Electronics Manufacturing Institute.

The Department of Defense (DoD) previously awarded the cooperative USD 75 million in grant funding so the cooperative – comprised of a mix of public and private companies with advanced scientific capabilities, as well as universities – could ensure that the United States leads the world in producing the kinds of wearable electronic devices that could have groundbreaking applications for the military and health care, Eastman writes in a press release.

The cooperative brings together companies such as General Electric, Boeing and Raytheon, to name a few.

Eastman, which has a research and development site in nearby Palo Alto, contributes materials science capabilities and a materials understanding is one of the building block of flexible hybrid electronics (FHE). This FHE technology combines printed electronics manufactured on flexible substrates with semiconductor devices. Members of NextFlex America’s Flexible Hybrid Electronics Manufacturing Institute are working together to develop, pilot and manufacture these technologies in forms that can be attached to the human body. These FHEs could also be attached to vehicles or other structures.

A key facet is that FHEs can be bent, rolled, folded and integrated physically in ways that traditional, rigid electronics cannot. The potential to put technology on human bodies in order to monitor the health and stress levels of soldiers on the battlefield – or for medical patients in the health care setting – could vastly improve medical response time or provide advance notification that medical intervention is necessary, which would improve health and save lives.

FHE devices could also be leveraged to improve other devices that include robotic prosthetic limbs for injuries soldiers, amputees or cancer survivors, as well as sensor patches for premature babies that are too fragile for traditional blood work and tests.

“Eastman is excited to collaborate with other innovation leaders who are driving the cutting edge of advanced technologies,” said Steve Crawford, Eastman senior vice president and chief technology officer. “The Eastman team values this type of collaboration and believes this could be a true differentiator in accelerating the development of technologies that will have a significant impact on how we live in the future.”

The cooperative is part of the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation program, a federal initiative to support advanced manufacturing in the United States and secure U.S. leadership in emerging technologies. The USD 75 million award from the DoD was augmented by another USD 96 million in public and private funding.
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