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56 SMT007 MAGAZINE I MAY 2022 Flexible Hybrid Electronics Design: Reducing Time to Market E Emerging innovations in the flexible hybrid electronics (FHE) domain are enabling new applications across multiple industries due to their highly flexible structures and additive manufacturing processes. e smaller form factor, lighter weight, and conformal capabili- ties are ideal for IoT edge devices in health and fitness monitoring, military asset identification and tracking, automotive displays and sensors, aerospace radar, and so robotics. Significant industry research led by NextFlex is optimiz- ing the processes from design through manu- facture for FHE products. DARPA Kicks Off Program to Explore Space-Based Manufacturing E DARPA's Novel Orbital Moon Manufacturing, Materials, and Mass Efficient Design program is underway with eight industry and university research teams on contract. e selected teams are tasked to provide foundational proofs of concept in materials science, manufacturing, and design technologies to enable production of future space structures on orbit without the volume constraints imposed by launch. All manufacturing would be done in orbital con- struction facilities and the results utilized in orbital applications. Prototron Circuits Installs Maskless Model 5600 LED Direct Imager E Prototron Circuits of Tucson, Arizona, has recently installed a Maskless Model 5600 LED Direct Imaging machine. e Maskless Model 5600 allows for processing .003 mil lines on most applications. American Made Advocacy: What Happens in Washington Happens to Us All E Like many of you, I've spent the last few years grappling with the challenges posed by a global pandemic. Whether it's staffing a production line or obtaining key materials, PCB manu- facturers and their suppliers have had to adapt quickly to a radically changed environment. We're more than 700 days into this new world, but as an industry, we cannot allow our day- to-day focus on operations to distract us from what is happening in Washington and what it means to the microelectronics ecosystem. Testing Todd: Has Universal Fixture Testing Gone the Way of the Dodo? E Although flying probe testers have become common place in today's manufacturing the- atre, one must wonder if the fixture tester, spe- cifically the universal grid or "pin in hole" fix- ture has any valuable use in the electrical test arena? e advancements in flying probe tech- nology are undisputed with the new abilities to do many of the tests that benchtop testing his- torically required. Catching Up With Alpha Circuit's Prashant Patel E ere is plenty of evidence that the Ameri- can PCB industry is going through a revital- ization. While a few new companies are being established, others are being rejuvenated as investors gain more interest and confidence in domestic PCB companies. I reached out to Prashant Patel, owner and president of Alpha Circuit Corporation in the greater Chicago area. I wanted to hear about his investment and the unique path he took to owning a PCB shop.

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