The Pentagon has announced a Silicon Valley-based manufacturing institute and partnership with a consortium of over 160 companies, universities, and non-profit organizations — including Apple and Boeing — to develop high-tech military wearables and ultimately “an end-to-end stretchable electronics 'ecosystem' in the U.S.”
Called the FlexTech Alliance, and including organizations such as Apple, Boeing and Harvard University, the partnership's goal is to advance the manufacturing of flexible hybrid electronics using high-end printing technologies. The new technology is aimed at creating stretchable electronics with embedded sensors that can be worn by soldiers or even molded onto the outside of ships or warplanes.
The resulting products could be used to monitor a soldier's health or even the structural integrity of a vehicle. The technology would also be expected to ultimately find its way into consumer applications.
The cooperative agreement will receive $75 million in DoD funding over five years matched with more than $90 million from the private sector and local governments. It will be managed by the U.S. Air Force Research laboratory (AFRL).
The Flexible Hybrid Electronics Manufacturing Innovation Hub – the seventh of nine such institutes planned by the U.S. administration to advance U.S. manufacturing capabilities – will be based in San Jose. The first such institute, created in 2012, was the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute in Youngstown, Ohio, designed to help develop 3D printing.
This article originally appeared on EE Times Europe.