The prototype of the flexible Arduino from NextFlex

The prototype of the flexible Arduino from NextFlex

Daniil Zhuk
Many manufacturers have already ventured into the wearable device market, all of which are portable, inconspicuous, lightweight, flexible and functional. Many have found that using the Arduino platform affects two of these characteristics. The Arduino platform does not have mechanical flexibility and invisibility, so it is difficult to include it in such projects.

Silicon Valley's NextFlex organization has created a prototype of a flexible Arduino device based on the Arduino Mini board. The device is printed on a polymeric substrate on which standard components are then installed. This means that the device is still not completely flexible, since there are rigid elements on it, but the company hopes that in the future such components as resistors and capacitors can also be printed.

Print flexible circuit board for Arduino
To create a flexible Arduino device, automatic stencil printers and industrial inkjet printers were used to apply the scheme on a flexible plastic board with a thickness of 1 mm. Next, the silicon crystal of the microcontroller was directly attached to the surface under strong pressure.

The conductive ink used is based on an improved formula with silver ink capable of bending, with very good adhesion to the surface. This ink is not new to the market, but the company is working to create more reliable and resilient materials.

This prototype can bring wearable devices to a whole new level of convenience and can be used in many cases when, for example, the occupied space is important or when the mass affects the correct functioning of the device. Therefore, it can be useful not only to manufacturers but also to students, product developers, etc.

Printed Flexible Boards
On June 26, this year, NextFlex will talk about this project at the Sensors Expo & Conference in San Jose, California, USA.

Manufacturers believe that prices for this kind of technological solution will rapidly fall, making them affordable for everyone to use in their projects. NextFlex wants these new technologies to become ubiquitous in such projects. Flexible microcontroller solutions can also be used for the Internet of Things and Medicine.

In conclusion, we say that the Arduino platform is already extremely popular due to its open hardware and software, the ability to easily program it and the low price, but now it can become famous also due to its practical use and ability to be seen and convenient to wear. This device is only a prototype for now, and we should expect its improvement in the future. However, this future already looks promising for manufacturers.