NovaCentrix is pleased to announce their newest release of a PulseForge® Photonic Curing System at Printed Electronics USA 2017. This new PulseForge will be the lowest priced option in the PulseForge family of tools, configured for pricing that meets the needs of early stage academic and R&D budgets. As our customers have evolved their printed electronics application research and development, there is increasing interest in performing photonic curing research work in-house. This state-of-the-art photonic curing system allows customers to configure a platform that meets evolving needs while meeting budget constraints.
Additionally displayed in our booth this year will be a demonstration from UC Berkeley of a printed flexible EMG electrode. A number of companies have come to us to either understand how these technologies can be applied to improve their current sensor offerings, or to work with us in applying our conductive inks and photonic curing tools for new sensors.
Other application areas like automotive and aerospace are also increasingly developing more extensive sensor applications for improved product functionality, a richer user experience, and also in conjunction with big-data analytical trends. For these applications, broader sensor implementation allows everything from more efficient design and operation at a micro product/user level up to macro-level intelligent fleet management, regional placement of spares and repair centers, and even predictive maintenance savings.
NovaCentrix has been excited to have the opportunity to support the work of Dr. Ana Arias and her group at UC Berkeley. They have been developing a printed flexible EMG electrode for improved data monitoring compared with traditional electrodes. One of the technical challenges the effort has faced, which is consistent with challenges seen in the FHE space in general, is how to seamlessly combine flexible printed electronics technologies with traditional SMT and connector technologies. We are working together to pioneer some new methods.
Another interesting project is with a spin-out from Dr. Arias' lab at UC Berkeley. That project is also extremely interesting because Dr. Arias and her team have identified that current MRI testing equipment for use with children is woefully unfriendly to the kids. Current MRI vests are designed for one-size-fits-all adults. We all know adults do not come in one size, and the standard-issue vests are especially mismatched for pediatric use from both a comfort perspective and also an accuracy perspective. Dr. Arias and her team are using the production capabilities of printed and flexible electronics to fashion quick-turn-around size-specific vests for children. These individualized vests might result in a less-traumatic experience for already-anxious kids (and their families!) and also in improved diagnostic accuracy due to more conformal fit. Plus, they might also help fix real-world discomfort and improve diagnostic inaccuracy for those among us that are not one-size-fits-all grown-ups.
As mentioned earlier one of the technical opportunities facing FHE providers is the integration of FHE technologies with traditional (and successful!) technologies like surface mount component (SMT), and electrical connectors. We are very engaged with our clients to help them identify and apply solutions when their applications require it. In fact, we will have some new announcements in the coming months related to developments from our team and our partners in these areas.
One of the biggest challenges across the FHE space though is not technical at all. It is overcoming the still-limited awareness of FHE technology capabilities among the global set of potential users, across the spectrum of possible applications. The range of value propositions of FHE products and technologies must be communicated to the set of potential users. At NovaCentrix, one way we do this is in our every-day direct engagements with people who contact us regarding our Metalon conductive inks and our PulseForge photonic curing tools. Every email, every phone call, every trade show chat, and every website visit can help to improve the understanding of how to apply these capabilities. We also do what we can to promote the capabilities of the FHE community by sponsoring events around the globe related to FHE technologies, and then working with organizers to develop our participation in a way that offers the best value and experience for the attendees. You never know which specific chat, email, or presentation will be the one that sparks the next big "ah-ha" moment and subsequent large-scale implementation.
As sensor applications in general grow across a number of market areas, we need to do what we can to work with those application developers to understand the goals driving increased sensor implementation. That insight can both steer our continued tech development and also provide anchor points for conversations around how FHE technologies can add value towards those goals. As designers ask for conformal and flexible/dynamic form factors, improved digital production, and increased product capabilities, FHE in sensors is well poised for extended success.
Traditional commercial EMG electrodes placed on the forearm
Printed EMG electrodes utilizing PulseForge® tools and Metalon® conductive inks
Images courtesy Dr. Ana Arias and her group at UC Berkeley