NextFlex Mass. Resources

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Browse this listing of resources from training opportunities, to grant funding, and tools.



UMass Amherst Advanced Print and Roll-to-Roll (R2R) Core Facility

The Advanced Print and R2R Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at Mass Amherst formally opened it’s doors to industry interactions in October 2018. Since then, the facility, which provides a globally unique set of coating, patterning, and materials processing capabilities within one facility, has supported a broad range of industry partners in developing their next generation products for applications in energy and environment, photonics, and biomedical and health monitoring devices. The companies include large corporations and small start-ups, with UMass R2R enabling access and product development on commercially relevant equipment in order for the companies to better establish their products without diluting their IP. Example companies include:

Agira Photonics
Printed Energy
Carver Scientific
With several others presently establishing service and development agreements.


Laboratory for Education and Application Prototype (LEAP @ WPI/QCC)

LEAP @ WPI/QCC is a partnership between WPI and Quinsigamond Community College and is part of the AIM Photonics Manufactuing USA Institute with funding support from M2I2. This user facility contains three state-of-the-art laboratories that total 2,000 sq. ft. including a 650 sq. ft. clean room. LEAP houses state-of-the art equipment primarily used for the fabrication, testing and functionalization of photonic integrated circuits (PICs). The equipment in LEAP also facilitates fabrication, measurement, and packaging of electronic devices, including flexible hybrid electronic devices. Major instrumentation includes a nanoscale 3D printer (Nanoscribe), a UV photolithography system (mask aligner), a wire bonder, a range of laser-based spectroscopic instruments, and a range of DC and RF probe stations and analyzers. An inkjet materials printer and supporting equipment for ink development will also be housed within LEAP. LEAP also has a 750 sq. ft. Active Learning Classroom/Lab for courses and outreach activities. The classroom has computers with software for simulation and design of integrated circuits and other components.

WPI Materials Characterization Laboratory. The Materials Characterization Laboratory is a user facility that offers a range of analytical techniques and support services including access to major instruments in the area of optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), X-Ray diffraction (XRD), micro- and nano-indentation and hardness testing, Raman microscopy, FTIR spectroscopy, and transmission electron microscopy (TEM).

Please direct inquiries to Pratap Rao (Associate Professor and NextFlex point of contact; or Ellen Piccioli (Director of Manufacturing Innovation; 


UMass Lowell Flexible Electronics Capabilities

The University of Massachusetts Lowell (UML) is the second largest public University in Massachusetts, located in Lowell, MA.  The University includes state-of-the-art flexible and printed electronics equipment housed in more than 70,000 sf shared research, development, and prototyping facilities.  The University is staffed with more than 600 full-time faculty, over 18,300 graduate and undergraduate students, and research staff and postdocs.   UMass Lowell also has a vibrant co-op program which allows for 6-month, semester, and summer opportunities.  More than half of its students are in STEM fields.   UMass Lowell also has a well-established Core Research Facilities program that provides access to equipment with technical staff support; more than 200 companies are CRF users.

Fabric Discovery Center

With $10M in support from M2I2, the UMass Lowell Fabric Discovery Center is the 1st center in the US to integrate three of the national Manufacturing USA Institutes – AFFOA (smart textiles), NextFlex (flexible electronics), and ARM (robotics). The UMass Lowell Fabric Discovery Center is a 28,000-square foot research facility, located at 110 Canal Street.  This interdisciplinary laboratory focuses on the development, testing, and manufacturing of “smart” materials.  The Fabric Discovery Center offers leading edge equipment for the development of new advanced textiles, fiber-based materials and integrated electronics. This pilot production and testing facility serves the needs of both academic and industry researchers to rapidly transform product concepts into functional prototypes. Capabilities include polymer compounding equipment, fiber extrusion, textile assembly (e.g., knitting, weaving, braiding) and textile finishing (e.g., coating, digital printing, bonding/seaming, sewing) equipment, and 3D printing and roll-to-roll processing (for creation of flexible electronics, conformal sensors, energy harvesting devices, wearable electronics, etc.). Testing capabilities include mechanical and thermal properties, flammability, permeability, and durability.

Nanomanufacturing Center

Awarded in 2004 by the National Science Foundation (NSF) as the Center for High-rate Nanomanufacturing (CHN) program, a collaboration effort between UMass Lowell, Northeastern University and the University of New Hampshire, the Nanomanufacturing Center focuses on basic nanomanufacturing research, collaborative research with industry and education of the future workforce that enables advanced manufacturing and commercialization of environmentally safe nanotechnology products.  The Center currently leverages this legacy with programs such as the Flexible Hybrid Electronics Manufacturing USA program, NextFlex, as a founding and tier one member. The Center is also one of the leads of the NSF Industry-University Cooperative Research Center on 3D Printing (SHAP3D), jointly with Georgia Tech and UConn,

The Center is located in the Saab Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center (ETIC) building and hosts a series of plastics engineering processing capabilities including a series of three laboratories such as the High Bay, the compounding laboratory, the advanced manufacturing.

  • The high bay facility houses large scale manufacturing equipment and is outfitted with an overhead crane capable of lifting up to five tons.  Equipment currently in the high bay includes Gloucester Engineering blown film line, Sumitomo injection molding machine, Arburg injection molding machine, filament extrusion line, and co-extrusion sheet line.
  • The compounding laboratory facility provides state of the art capabilities for extrusion melt compounding of nanocomposites and other polymer compositions (Figure F.3).  The laboratory offers unique multi-screw extrusion compounding equipment, including a Technovel twin screw extruder, a Technovel quad screw extruder – one of a kind in the U.S, and a Leistritz twin screw extruder. 
  • The Advanced Manufacturing laboratory features a custom roll to roll machine (Figure F.4) which provides the ability for continuous nanomanufacturing processing, including template directed assembly and transfer, and nanoscale embossing. ​

Plastics Engineering Department

The UMass Lowell Plastics Engineering Department has a 60-year history of education, research and industrial partnerships in plastics manufacturing, characterization and design. The Plastics Engineering department operates and maintains 40,000 ft2 of laboratory space, including a sub-scale processing laboratory; compounding facilities; multiple plastics processing/manufacturing laboratories including industry-funded facilities for 3D printing, compounding, extrusion, injection molding, blow molding, thermoforming, fiber production, blown film, and materials characterization. Full modeling and prototyping capabilities are also available for product design research projects with industry.  Additional equipment includes a three-extruder co-extrusion line with a nanolayer feed block.  In total, these laboratories represent the largest and most complete collection of polymer processing equipment of any educational institution in the United States.

Printed Electronics Research Collaborative (PERC)

PERC is dedicated to developing additive manufacturing technologies for rapid prototyping of printed electronics in both 2D and 3D formats. PERC is co-located with the Raytheon-UML Research Institute, which is a joint R&D facility between Raytheon and UML.  The PERC/RURI facility occupies the 4th floor of the Saab ETIC on the UMass Lowell Campus and has been operational since 2015. PERC works with corporate partners (currently over 16 companies) to develop printed electronics solutions.

PERC/RURI is equipped with an extensive collection of 2D and 3D printers that combine the ability to print electronically-functional inks (with feature sized down to 10 microns), 3D thermoplastics and chip integration to realize RF/microwave/wireless subsystems. The facility also has an extensive compliment of simulation tools, device and material characterization (up to 50 GHz), as well as an anechoic chamber for measuring antenna systems.  The facility is ITAR qualified with access controls in place for DoD applications. Ongoing DoD projects exist with ONR, Army, AFRL and the NSA.

The NERVE Center

The UMass Lowell NERVE Center is a 10,000 sq. ft. interdisciplinary robotics testing, research, and training facility that evaluates robotic capabilities, human performance, and human-robot interaction. The NERVE Center houses many test methods, environments, benchmarks, and testbeds for robotics spanning domains such as industrial automation, exoskeletons and wearable robots, and disaster response.  Standard test methods at the NERVE Center include those specified through ASTM E54.09 (Homeland Security Applications; Subcommittee on Response Robots) for evaluating mobility, dexterity, maneuvering, and sensors, and ASTM F45 (Driverless Automatic Guided Industrial Robots) for evaluating navigation and obstacle avoidance.

As part of the NERVE Center’s participation in the Advanced Robots for Manufacturing (ARM) Institute, we have been developing the ARMada, a collection of robot arms, grippers, and sensors, with $1M of support from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The equipment we have purchased for the ARMada to date can be found in the table below.




  • ABB IRB 14000-0.5/0.5 YuMi
  • Fetch Robotics Mobile Manipulator
  • Kinova Gen3 Ultra Lightweight Arm
  • KUKA LBR iiwa 7 R800
  • Omron LD90
  • Omron TM5-700
  • Rethink Robotics Baxter
  • Rethink Robotics Sawyer
  • Universal Robots UR5e
  • Yaskawa Motoman GP7
  • OnRobot RG2-FT Gripper
  • Rethink Robotics Pneumatic Grippers: Large and Small
  • Rethink Robotics Vacuum Grippers: Foam, Small, and Large
  • RightHand Robotics ReFlex 1
  • RightHand Robotics ReFlex TakkTile 2
  • Robotiq 2-Finger Adaptive Gripper
  • Robotiq 2-Finger Adaptive Gripper
  • Robotiq 3-Finger Adaptive Gripper
  • SAKE Robotics EZGripper Gen 2 Dual
  • Schunk 3-Finger Concentric Gripper
  • Schunk Parallel Jaw Grippers
  • Soft Robotics Development Kit
  • Vaccon Vacuum Grippers
  • Wonik Robotics Allegro Hand
  • ABB YuMi External Cognex Camera
  • Asus Xtion Pro Sensor
  • ATI 6-axis force torque sensor
  • Intel RealSense Depth Camera D415
  • Intel RealSense Depth Camera D435
  • Intel RealSense Depth Camera D435i
  • Occipital Structure Sensor
  • OptiTrack Prime 17w motion capture system
  • OptiTrack V120-TR
  • OptoForce OMD-20-SE-40N
  • Realtime Robotics RapidSense
  • Robotiq FT 300 Force Torque Sensor Kit
  • StereoLabs ZED Camera


Other robot systems that are available at the NERVE Center include DJI Mavic Pro and Spark UAVs, Laevo exoskeleton, Omron Adept MobileRobots Pioneer 2 and 3 robots (with Hokuyo lidars and Kinect sensors).

The Movement Assessment & Performance Laboratory

The NERVE Center houses the Movement Assessment and Performance (MAP) Labs, which is used for evaluating the performance of humans, robots worn by humans, and bipedal robots such as humanoids. The MAP Labs features instrument for measuring 3D ground reaction forces, 3D body kinematics, muscle activities, brain activities, metabolic cost, and joint torque and power. MAP Labs equipment include:

  • ActiGraph (cardiac signals)
  • APDM 17-Opal v2 Movement Monitoring System (wearable IMUs for 3D movement analysis)
  • Cosmed K5 Wearable Metabolic Mobile Testing System (Metabolic cost, VO2 measurement)
  • Delsys Trigno EMG/EKG System (muscle activation, cardiac signal)
  • Enbois EEG System (Brain activities)
  • Motek instrumented treadmill M-Gait system    (3D ground reaction forces, testing movement coordination and agility, etc.)
  • Motion Analysis Corp. 8-camera motion capture system (3D movement analysis)
  • NIRx NIRScout functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) cap (cognitive and physical workload measurement)
  • Qualisys 8-camera motion capture system (3D movement analysis)
  • Xsens Biomech Whole Body Suit (IMU based 3D movement analysis)

Structural Dynamic and Acoustic Systems Laboratory

The Structural Dynamic and Acoustics Systems Laboratory is well equipped to conduct modal analysis, structural dynamic, acoustical, and control system experiments and modeling.  Major hardware/acquisition systems include: Polytec 3D scanning laser vibrometer, Aramis 3D digital image correlation system, 64 channel National Instruments PXI 64 channel data acquisition system, 56 channel LMS/SCADAS III acquisition system, 40 channel Spectral Dynamic Jaguar acquisition system, 2 8 Channel M+P Vibpilot Analyzers, Several 4 and 8 channel DIFA/SCADAS, Zonic/Spectral Dynamics, DACTRON PC based portable acquisition systems and several dual channel FFT analyzers, dSpace (MATLAB based control and data acquisition system). Additional Instrumentation comprises over 200 different accelerometers, a wide variety of modal analysis hammers, 10 mechanical shakers (2 to 200 lbs. range), a variety of piezoelectric actuators, displacement sensors, 2 magnetic probes, 4 capacitance probes, 7 impedance heads, ~15 force transducers, twelve spectrum analyzers (2, 4, 7, 8, and 30 channel), 75+ acoustical microphones, associated microphone amplifiers and signal conditioners, intensity probes, vibration and acoustic pistaphone calibrators, Trek high-voltage power amplifier, ACX high-current power amplifier, and a variety of miscellaneous electronic equipment.

The Mechanical & Civil and Environmental Engineering departments also include a large range of equipment for the structural health monitoring facility such as various Instrons for static and cyclic loading and an environmental test chamber to subject composites to high temperature and pressure. The departments are equipped with structural testing facilities and a number of equipment for mechanical and other physical sensing capabilities, including a dynamic strain gauge system, infrared thermography, ground penetrating radar (300MHz, 800MHz, 1.3GHz), synthetic aperture radar (10.5 GHz), ultrasonic testing (54kHz), and an impact-echo system for assessing the structural integrity of integrated composite structures. The facility is also capable of conducting computational electrodynamics (FDTD) and mechanics (FEM) simulations of composite structures. 

Core Research Facility

The Core Research Facilities (CRF) at UMass Lowell offers users more than 125 exceptional instruments and testing facilities in destructive and nondestructive testing, surface and forensic analysis, nanofabrication and nanotechnology, next generation sequencing, material characterization, spectroscopy, chromatography, radiation testing, and robotics. All instruments within the nine Core Research Facilities labs are openly and readily available to internal and external users.

The professional staff of the Core Research Facilities is centralized and is attributed with the success of the program to internal and external users alike. CRF equipment are available for booking on the portal:

Nanofabrication Laboratory, a CRF Facility

The Nanofabrication Lab wing offers class 100, class 1000, and class 10,000 level clean-room facilities equipped to handle complex research projects requiring micro-and nanoscale fabrication on flexible and non-flexible substrates including silicon wafers, metal, glass, and polymer films.  It is specifically designed for research initiatives with corporate partners and has an on-site dedicated research staff for project management.  Specific equipment includes a mask aligner, E-beam lithography, Heidelberg direct writing, atomic layer deposition, plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition, E-beam evaporation, inductive coupled plasma etching, and reactive ion etch.  All equipment is listed at:

Materials Characterization Laboratory, a CRF Facility

The Materials Characterization Lab (MCL) provides a full suite of characterization equipment for materials research for nano-engineered materials, photonics, and biomaterials.  Instruments include but are not limited to Field-Emission Scanning Electron Microscopes (FE-SEM), a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM), a Focused Ion Beam Scanning Electron Microscope (FIB-SEM), a Stereo Microscope, Inductively Coupled Plasma – Mass Spectrometer (ICP-MS) and an Inductively Coupled Plasma – Optical Emission Spectrometer (ICP-OES).

Thermal & Mechanical Properties Lab (TMP), a CRF Facility

The mechanical property laboratory has environmental controls for temperature and humidity to allow testing against industry standards.  It is equipped with Instron universal testing machines, dynamic (fatigue) testing and temperature chambers.

The thermal analysis lab includes a full suite of polymer characterization equipment.  Equipment currently housed in this laboratory includes: a differential scanning calorimeter, thermogravimetric analysis, dynamic mechanical analyzer, Ares RSA3 rheometer, and an Ares G2 rheometer which is capable of measuring very low to very high viscosities.