Department of Defense-Led Manufacturing Innovation Effort Focuses on Key Enabling Technology for Manufacturing Growth
Lorain County Community College (LCCC) and its Richard Desich SMART Commercialization Center for Microsystems will participate in a new federal initiative to advance the manufacturing and commercialization of flexible electronics in Northeast Ohio. The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) announced in September that the seventh institute under the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation will be led by the San Jose-based FlexTech Alliance. The alliance includes a Midwest node based in Ohio and Michigan.
LCCC’s Richard Desich SMART Commercialization Center for Microsystems will serve as one of four Innovation Manufacturing Centers within the Midwest node where these products will be developed. The other Innovation Manufacturing Centers are located at Case Western Reserve University, University of Akron and Western Michigan University.
“Lorain County Community College is proud to participate with our regional partners in pioneering a new era of electronics manufacturing in the United States,” said Roy A. Church, president of Lorain County Community College. “At the core of the region’s emerging microsystem’s technology cluster, the Desich SMART Center is well poised to accelerate the commercialization of flexible electronics technologies and help develop an industry that will provide economic growth for our region, state and country.”
The Desich SMART Center will utilize its unique expertise, facility and equipment in microsystems packaging and assembly to develop manufacturing processes for ultra-thin flexible sensor devices. Fully developing and optimizing these processes will be critical in reducing costs and increasing production for technology applications such as wearable electronics and the ‘Internet of Things’.
“Flexible electronics is a key enabler for a rapidly growing need to have sensors integrated in products,” said Matt Apanius, director of the Desich SMART Center. “For instance, this technology can be integrated into clothing for real-time health monitoring of patients at home. It can also be used to remotely monitor health conditions of military personnel or first-responders when performing duties. Our role at the Desich SMART Center will be to address the manufacturability of these technologies and get them to market.”
The Midwest Node will be led by Team NEO and Western Michigan University’s Center for Advancement of Printed Electronics. The co-led Midwest “node” encompasses more than 32 business, industry and academic organizations, including Team NEO’s flexible electronics cluster, FlexMatters®, as well as The University of Akron, Case Western Reserve University, Kent State University and Lorain County Community College.
With the region’s already established flexible electronics cluster, rich legacy in materials, strong biomedical assets, and workforce expertise, Northeast Ohio is well positioned to contribute to the efforts designated by the DoD – reaffirming its role as an essential innovation hub for advancing flexible electronics.
In addition, LCCC will facilitate a suite of workforce and talent services, working with regional partners, to ensure a highly skilled talent pool is in place to meet the needs of this new manufacturing sector of the U.S. economy. To that end, LCCC will utilize the workforce and talent consortium developed through the Northeast Ohio Speed to Market Accelerator (STMA) as part of the Jobs and Innovation Accelerator initiative and leverage its management of a statewide advanced manufacturing consortium to replicate effective strategies for helping companies forecast and meet their talent needs.
“This work will build off the federal investments made in Northeast Ohio to match workforce development services to commercialization strategies for the innovation economy,” said Church. STMA is supported by: the U.S. Department of Labor; Employment and Training Administration; U.S. Small Business Administration; and the U.S. Economic Development Administration.
Northeast Ohio activities will benefit a wide array of markets beyond defense, including wearable electronics and medical devices, by bringing together companies, universities and R&D centers to co-invest in key technology areas. The program will also provide a unique opportunity for education and training, job creation, and other forms of economic development.
The Institute is part of the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation program (NNMI), an initiative of the Obama Administration to support advanced manufacturing in the U.S. Each institute is part of a growing network dedicated to securing U.S. leadership in the emerging technologies required to win the next generation of advanced manufacturing. The first Manufacturing Innovation Institute (MII) was founded in Youngstown, Ohio. The FHE MII is the seventh MII announced and the fifth under DoD management.
For more information about the Flexible Hybrid Electronics Manufacturing Innovation Institute, visit www.FHEMII.com.