Flex+ has announced they have successfully concluded their two-year BMBF funded project. Fraunhofer FEP along with the project's several partners have developed new routes in the design and development of flexible organic electronics as well as paving the way for new applications and markets.
The flex+ Technology Platform goal was to develop a comprehensive approach for successful development and manufacturing of flexible electronics. This was achieved through an organisational structure that was "Open Innovation" in character.
The project resulted in; a portal that makes available an "Open Technology Base" comprising a wiki about flex+, and an "Open Technology Lab" for shared utilisation of existing infrastructure and technologies, bringing together idea generators, companies, technology suppliers, and other players for projects such as technology transfer, and jointly working on problems and projects in the area of flexible organic electronics.
The participants are reported to have gained a number of advantages from the Open Innovation approach, such as the shared development of keystone technologies, rationalisation of R & D costs, targeted development of flexible electronics, and access to technology suppliers and infrastructure.
To develop targeted solutions in the fields of medicine and health care, a competition for ideas named "flex-MED" was initiated under the flex+ project. Entrants were asked to develop product concepts that aimed to answer the question: "Healthier thanks to flexible electronics – how can this technology revolutionize health care?"
The competition saw more than 70 ideas received, all these ideas have been published in an "ideas book". The best three suggestions were debuted by Fraunhofer FEP during the 4th Industry Partners Days in September 2017.
Several scenario workshops were conducted by the flex+ consortium in Dresden and Munich focused in jointly developing futuristic scenarios that were as realistic as possible - participants involved were drawn from interested parties, and companies from the field of medical engineering.
This resulted in six specific project and product ideas worked on by the project teams and continuously refined. As a final step, the project scope and specific terms of reference needed for realising the ideas were defined.
Figure: Flex+ / Fraunhofer FEP - Transparent, flexible OLED on plastic film
Aside from the focus on specific ideas for utilisation of flexible electronics in medicine and health care, an additional approach was taken in the flex+ Project. The open question posed was how the possibilities offered by flexible electronics could be vividly and realistically brought more closely to the public eye without an object emphasising a single direction, application, or application niche.
The Fraunhofer FEP, together with the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP, Organic Electronics Saxony OES, and Mareike Gast & Kathi Stertzig Industrial Design jointly realised an impressive series of demonstration objects in the "Insect Project" that incorporated these criteria.
Figure: Flex+ / Fraunhofer FEP - Musca noctis – OLED jewel beetle from the 'Insect Project'
Dr. Christian Kirchhof, Project manager, said, "We laid the foundation for open and energetic cooperation through the workshops."
Flexible electronics are light-weight, pliable, transparent, scalable and sustainable. Thanks to their diverse properties, they offer characteristics and advantages for completely new and innovative ideas and applications that will be supported and implemented from conception to completed components by a Technology Platform developed during the project.
Flexible electronics can produce a device with all the characteristics needed: flexible as plastic film or a piece of cloth, with no discrete components or ICs, light-weight, thin, energy-efficient, sustainable, manufactured as a single piece, and with no interfaces or mechanically vulnerable connector technology.
Input, processing, output, sensors & actuators, power supply, and networking – all are integrated in this module that works "everywhere" and "everywhen".
A device like this could even be a personal computer in the form of a film atop the working surface in the laboratory or kitchen just for wiping it down. It could be a health-monitoring system in a T-shirt, a media player in a fashionable scarf or shawl, carpeting that functions as a Smart Home control including illumination, or the complete dashboard of a motor vehicle constructed as a light-weight module whose shape and curvature can be adapted to the imagination of the designer and the designated space.
Flex+ Open Innovation is a German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) Forum Project, promotional reference BMBF-03ZZF31.
Source: Flex+/Fraunhofer FEP