NextFlex, America’s Flexible Hybrid Electronics (FHE) Manufacturing Institute, recently announced a new type of flexible microcontroller module that could have big implications for engineers, prototypers, and hobbyists everywhere. Here’s how this new technology can bring about many advancements to the rapidly growing realm of Arduino microcontroller modules.
NextFlex’s new technology can bring many advancements to the rapidly growing realm of microcontrollers. Image source: NextFlex
The advancement that NetFlex has made to Arduinos comes in response to several problems that have plagued the original open-source microcontroller modules. A microcontroller is a device with a programmable control chip with various input and output slots, which can be programmed using a simple code to control other various devices or read sensors and relay the information to a computer or other device. Arduinos are open-source modules based on a microcontroller, and they run on a notoriously easy-to-learn code, which is making them extremely sought after for prototyping new technology.
The popularity of Arduinos in the last few years has grown rapidly with various iterations available, such as the Arduino mini, but until now, they have been limited by certain physical restrictions. Typical Arduinos are built using standard PCB boards and are, therefore, rather rigid and bulky. Due to their exposed electronics, they are also rather fragile. NextFlex has solved these problems with a new manufacturing process — flexible hybrid electronics (FHEs) — that uses flexible plastic instead of a PCB and a printed conductive layer allowing the modules to be fully flexible as well as highly durable.