Instead of working on expensive systems made out of highly robust parts developed in ultra-secure laboratories in top-secret locations, the AFRL has developed a functional flexible Arduino-compatible board, which they claim to be the first of its type.
Using a simplified flexible hybrid electronics manufacturing process, the Nextflex team reduced the number of manufacturing process steps by more than 60% and the weight of the Arduino board by 98%. The flexible Arduino has a thin, flexible plastic sheet as circuit board on which the microcontroller is mounted without its case. Digital printing processes were used to create the connections between the circuit elements.
This project has resulted in the first ever, functional samples of flexible Arduino circuit board systems made by using a flexible hybrid electronics manufacturing process, setting the stage for smart technologies for the internet of things (IoT) and sensor applications like wearable devices.
Because of its flexible architecture, this board can be integrated with devices that may be flexible or curved in design or located in a narrow place, like a fuel tank sensor or sensors embedded in the wings that monitor the structural integrity of an aircraft. Wearable devices for monitoring for instance a pilot’s hydration status, glucose levels, heartrate and more are possible applications too.
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