NEWS

Wednesday
Apr182018

Additive Manufacturing of Radio Frequency Systems

SI2 Technologies, Inc. is leveraging its experience with RF design and additive manufacturing (AM) to design, 3D-print, and range-test novel phased array antennas and related systems. Our team is developing printed, high-efficiency phased arrays operating at DoD-relevant frequencies. These electronically-steerable phased arrays have no moving parts (increasing long-term reliability) and can survive the failure of individual array elements with manageable performance degradation. Conventional methods of manufacturing arrays with complex architectures can be costly, whereas SI2’s additively manufactured arrays are well-suited for size-, weight-, power-, and cost-constrained applications. In the past, the integration of multiple material classes (e.g., dielectrics and electrical conductors) into a single AM build has been a challenge due to materials and processing incompatibilities. We detail how to overcome these challenges by 1) utilizing a 3D printer that can print FDM filaments, print conductive pastes, and mill surfaces and 2) optimizing the chemistries between dissimilar materials. We will include trade studies to identify the best printing technique or combination of techniques to meet the DoD’s phased array performance goals. This approach minimizes production costs, array volume, and thermal management issues, and maximizes array efficiency. We will detail the considerable experience with printed electronics, phased array antenna design, and phased array antenna fabrication and testing. Commercial applications for these arrays include low cost antennas and arrays for weather monitoring, air traffic control, maritime vessel traffic control, and vehicle speed detection for law enforcement. An overview of AM phased array work will be presented.

Learning Objectives:

  • Describe how to build a 3D printed array using multiple techniques.
  • Describe how the printing process affects the performance of the array.
Monday
Apr162018

Member Spotlight: SI2 Technologies

Meet SI2 Technologies.

SI2 Technologies, Inc., is a high-technology, small-business firm founded in January 2003, and is a leading developer of antenna, array, absorber and sensor products and services for the defense and aerospace markets. We specialize in low profile, wide bandwidth solutions for antennas, and in high precision advanced absorber products.

What would you like others to know about SI2 Technologies and its capabilities?

SI2 offers a unique combination of RF design expertise, conventional manufacturing expertise, and additive manufacturing expertise for Flex Hybrid Electronics development. Our additive manufacturing capabilities include 2D printing (e.g., 48”-wide web for inkjet printing on flexible substrates), 2.5D printing (e.g., printing frequency-selective surfaces onto curved vehicle structures), and 3D printing (e.g., printing planar and non-planar antennas using dissimilar materials); see Figure 1. We can also integrate COTS ICs and passive components with manufactured parts, yielding “smart” hybrid devices.

Left: FHE Wireless Energy Harvester; Right: 3D-Printed 4 x 4 Antenna Aperture

Why is SI2 Technologies interested in Flexible Hybrid Electronics? What opportunities do you see?

FHE is expanding the RF design and manufacturing space with materials and approaches that have not traditionally been available for such applications. We have provided custom designs meeting challenging size, weight, and power constraints, and we see FHE as an enabler for advanced designs. SI2 pursues contract research and development opportunities throughout the DoD.

How did you get involved in NextFlex, and what are you seeking to achieve through NextFlex?

SI2 is proud to have been the first member of NextFlex. We team at both the tactical and strategic levels on programs and for specific solutions, so NextFlex allows us to both stay current with technology applications and meet potential partners. We would encourage companies with complementary technical capabilities and a desire to partner to reach out for joint business pursuits and customer solutions.

What types of activities has your company engaged in with NextFlex since becoming a member?

We participate in NextFlex Tech Council meetings, cooperative work on roadmaps, and, of course, networking. We are the newest representative member of the Governing Council; we have attended Innovation Days and are helping to plan for the upcoming workshop on how FHE can address the DoD’s needs. We have responded to multiple project calls and are currently executing on several Consortium contracts.

Article on NextFlex

Tuesday
Feb202018

NextFlex Recognizes All-Stars of Flexible Hybrid Electronics

Pictured L to R: Suresh Sitaraman, Georgia Tech; Joe Kunze, SI2 Technologies; Malcolm Thompson, NextFlex; Terri Sandu, Lorain County Community College; Michael Durstock, AFRL (on behalf of Rich Vaia) and Eric Forsythe, ARL (on behalf of Geoff Slipher).

Read more on the NextFlex' website.

Friday
Feb022018

Lowell Sun reports on SI2 Technologies

A hypersonic boost for SI2 Technologies, UMass Lowell

Read the full article by Rick Sobey here:

Thursday
Feb012018

Baker-Polito Administration Announces $400,000 Grant

Baker-Polito Administration Announces $400,000 Grant to Boost Research into Flexible-Hybrid Electronics Second M2I2 Award will Support Innovative Technology Commercialization and Partnership between Billerica’s SI2 Technologies & UMass Lowell

Left to right, Kate Machet (Office of U.S. Senator Ed Markey), Dr. Julie Chen (UMass Lowell), Ira Moskowitz (MA Technology Collaborative), Secretary Jay Ash (MA Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development), Dr. Joseph Kunze (SI2 Technologies), Dr. Malcom Thompson (NextFlex Consortium), Nancy Cadigan (Office of State Rep. Marc Lombardo). (Photo by Tara Goodwin, Goodwin Group PR)

BILLERICA, MA – February 1, 2018 – Today, the Baker-Polito Administration announced a $400,000 grant to UMass Lowell and SI2 Technologies (SI2) to support a research and development partnership to pursue the commercialization of innovative flexible-hybrid electronics technology. The award will allow research partners to develop new, flexible electronic antennas that can withstand high temperatures, which can be used in autonomous, hypersonic vehicles. The administration is supporting the partnership through the Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative (M2I2). This is the second M2I2 award made to this research partnership, following a grant of $512,000 announced by Governor Charlie Baker on the Lowell campus in May 2017.

 In addition to the M2I2 awards, SI2 and UMass Lowell have received nearly $1 million in support from the NextFlex Institute. The new award will allow SI2 Technologies to hire additional personnel as the project develops, adding to their 20 existing employees and continue support for UMass Lowell as it continues to grow as a leader in R&D in flexible-hybrid electronics, innovative technologies which help drive the development of novel sensors, electronics, displays, radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags, and wearable technologies.

 “Massachusetts leads the country in innovation and supporting new technologies like flexible electronics researched and developed at UMass Lowell and S SI2 Technologies helps ensure the Commonwealth will continue to lead emerging industries,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “We are proud to support public-private partnerships that benefit our research institutions, create new jobs and enhance Massachusetts’ standing as a national leader on business and innovation.

“We are pleased to partner with UMass Lowell so their students can continue to engaged with exciting, emerging technologies made possible by flexible, hybrid electronics,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “Today’s announcement builds on our deep commitment to the M2I2 program, giving students and entrepreneurs the tools and support to pursue technologies with endless potential.”

 Today, Secretary Jay Ash joined local officials for the announcement and tour of SI2 Technologies’ manufacturing facilities, where SI2 displayed several of the instruments supported by the May 2017 award. The project developed new technologies to develop hybrid-electronic (HE) cylindrical phased array radar and antenna devices. The project partners, which includes SI2, UMass Lowell, and Raytheon, estimate the market for those types of radar array systems will be valued at an estimated $1.99 billion by 2020.

 “We are extremely encouraged by the progress SI2 Technologies and UMass Lowell have made in the development of these remarkable technologies,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash. “I want to recognize UMass Lowell’s impressive leadership in this emerging cluster, creating unique opportunities for researchers, undergraduate and graduate students in a quickly evolving industry.”

“Flexible electronics enable us to reimagine many of the products we use every day and are revolutionizing industries ranging from national defense, to health care, to manufacturing and fashion. UMass Lowell is proud of the national reputation we have earned as we work with industry and government partners to become national leaders in a truly innovative sector of the economy,” said Julie Chen, UMass Lowell’s Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation. “I want to thank Secretary Ash, the Baker-Polito Administration and the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative for recognizing the critical role public research universities can play in economic development.”

Today’s M2I2 award will continue the establishment of UMass Lowell as a leader for customized test methods and as a home for R&D infrastructure, tools that will support Massachusetts advanced manufacturing companies working in the flexible hybrid electronic sector. The project will strengthen the position of Massachusetts in this technical market and will build on the Commonwealth’s previous investment into R&D infrastructure in the sector, which included a $4 million grant announced by Governor Baker in 2015 for the Printed Electronic Research Collaborative at UMass Lowell, another project where SI2 is a key private-sector partner.

 “We are pleased to once again be part of the NextFlex program in conjunction with the state and our partners at UMass Lowell, Lockheed Martin, GE, and Binghamton University,” said Dr. Joseph Kunze, President and CEO of SI2 Technologies. “This award will enable SI2 to increase our capabilities to test component integration at elevated temperatures and measure the reliability and performance of flexible hybrid electronic (FHE) devices. The testing and data sharing among our partners will enable SI2 to remain highly competitive and help increase our knowledge base and market share in the future. We are grateful to Secretary Ash and The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative for their support and vision to keep Massachusetts in the forefront of this technical market.”

 

“NextFlex is proud to be associated with the M2I2 programs announced today in Massachusetts that represent a great commitment by the state to support new technology advancement for the U.S. and the military industrial base. The number of flexible hybrid electronics projects being performed by entities in Massachusetts, including NextFlex members SI2 Technologies and UMass Lowell, is exciting to see,” said Malcolm J. Thompson, Executive Director of NextFlex. “I’m extremely proud of the special relationship that we enjoy with Joseph Kunze of SI2 Technologies, our first founding member. SI2’s antenna technology is critical to many market sectors, and we are pleased to be working with SI2 to develop FHE prototypes that will revolutionize the field.”

 The Commonwealth’s M2I2 effort is administered by EOHED and the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, in partnership with the federal Manufacturing USA effort. The M2I2 program understands that innovation is key to the future of manufacturing within the Commonwealth and builds upon the state’s existing assets, including our strong academic institutions, unparalleled workforce, national leadership in R&D, the depth of the innovation ecosystem in the state, and long history of manufacturing strength. The Initiative deepens and connects these assets, to further the innovations and job growth within the state by connecting companies, universities, and other academic and training institutions.

 “These projects are addressing very real market needs,” said Ira Moskowitz, Director of Advanced Manufacturing Programs at the Innovation Institute at the MassTech Collaborative. “While these researchers are looking toward the future, they’re answering the demand from the Department of Defense and other major buyers for these cutting-edge products. Beyond the defense capabilities, we believe that the products developed under this project will have many everyday applications.”

 “I’m always pleased to see local partnerships between workforce and education,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman. “With this grant, SI2 Technologies and UMass Lowell will have the additional resources they need to develop innovative products and technology that will contribute to our ever-growing advanced manufacturing industry while promoting job growth throughout the Commonwealth.”

 “I’m so pleased to see the success that SI2 Technologies is having in Billerica.  I would like to thank the Baker-Polito Administration for this investment in the fantastic innovations that SI2 is leading,” said Representative Marc Lombardo. “The Town of Billerica and the Commonwealth are proud of SI2 Technologies’ work.”

 Under M2I2, the Baker-Polito Administration has made a nearly $100 million commitment to provide matching funds to support capital projects under the Manufacturing USA program, an industry driven public-private partnership that focuses the nation’s premiere capabilities and expertise to capture critical global manufacturing leadership. That includes a $20 million commitment for projects under the NextFlex Institute.

Since October, the Administration has announced over $15 million in M2I2 awards to support advanced manufacturing across Massachusetts. In January, Lt. Governor Polito announced a $4 million grant< > to support the development of a Worcester-based integrated photonics facility to be managed by Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Quinsigamond Community College. That followed a December 2017 grant of $3.9 million to Lexington’s MIT Lincoln Laboratory to support the development of the Defense Fabric Discovery Center< >, a cutting-edge research hub supported by $6.1 million in total M2I2 awards. During Manufacturing Month last October, Governor Baker and Secretary Ash announced nearly $7 million in M2I2 awards to seven project across the state, including a $500,000 grant to support a NextFlex collaborative project between UMass Amherst and Uniqarta focused on advanced flexible-hybrid electronics systems.

 

 About M2I2:

Launched by the Baker-Polito Administration in 2016, the Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative (M2I2) aims to help Massachusetts manufacturers adopt innovative new technologies and provides the Commonwealth with a vehicle to invest in the national Manufacturing USA program. The Administration has committed $100 million-plus in funding over five years to support M2I2 projects across the Commonwealth, investments which are managed by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative in partnership with the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development. Through the creation of sector-specific Manufacturing USA Centers, M2I2 will advance innovations and job growth within the state through cross-collaboration among companies, universities, national labs, government, incubators, accelerators and other academic and training institutions.