Fueled by the recent $10 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII) will soon operate as an independent organization and rebrand itself as MxD.
The new name stands for "Manufacturing times Digital" and reinforces its commitment to drive the digital future of manufacturing, pioneering new technologies that make America’s industrial base and warfighters more resilient and agile as it becomes an independent organization from UI LABS. Last year DMDII launched a “Cyber Hub for Manufacturing” with $750,000 in seed funding from the DOD that served as a testbed for the creation and adoption of new cybersecurity technologies to secure manufacturing.
"There is no shortage of opportunity in the digital manufacturing space,” said Chandra Brown, who joined the organization as CEO in September. "It’s at the center of the nation’s manufacturing strategy and integral to the economic competitiveness of our partners. MxD is poised to capture this potential with a renewed focus."
"Because of its success to date, MxD is now ready to stand on its own and continue to drive change and impact in manufacturing,” said Caralynn Nowinski Collens, UI LABS’ CEO. "MxD is in a very strong position to fully take control of its own future in this high-growth market."
According to MxD, UI LABS played an essential role in standing up MxD and its sister organization, City Tech, as they built out their teams, grew membership, launched projects and secured financial support. As each unit grew and became more distinct, their need to share space and resources waned.
Collens will remain CEO of UI LABS through the transition. Once complete, Collens will serve on the MxD board, and UI LABS, as a brand, will sunset with all employees being absorbed by either MxD or City Tech. Chandra Brown and Brenna Berman will continue to lead MxD and City Tech, respectively.
"I am thrilled to lead MxD into the next chapter of helping U.S. manufacturers become more competitive and our defense industrial base better prepared," said Brown. "The new branding reflects the potential for exponential growth when you apply cutting-edge digital technologies to manufacturing."
MxD has attracted more than 300 partners, including Dow Chemical, Lockheed Martin, Rolls-Royce, Siemens, and McKinsey & Company. It has conducted more than 60 research projects with partners in more than 35 states.
MxD is facilitating factory worker training using augmented reality, updating legacy machines for the digital age and reducing error and scrap in high-value parts. McKinsey estimates that the country could achieve $3 trillion in manufacturing output by 2025 it it embraces digital.
In one high-impact project, Caterpillar and researchers at the Missouri University of Science and Technology and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign created new algorithms and methods for manufacturing large parts. The resulting software reduces a machine’s volumetric error by more than 80 percent and detects insufficient stock every time, reducing the overall cost of manufacturing waste.
DMDII originally launched in 2014 with $80 million in federal funding.