CHICAGO—The Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII) will be renamed MxD and will stand as an independent organization from UI LABS, now that it has achieved strong momentum and robust fiscal health, the organization said today.
Last week, the U.S. Department of Defense announced it was awarding MxD up to $60 million in federal funding over the next five years, including $10 million in guaranteed funding in 2019.
MxD stands for Manufacturing times Digital. Its mission is to drive the digital future of manufacturing, pioneering new technologies that make America’s industrial base and warfighters more resilient and agile. It launched in 2014 with $80 million in federal funding.
“Because of its success to date, MxD is now ready to stand on its own and continue to drive change and impact in manufacturing,” Caralynn Nowinski Collens, UI LABS’ CEO, said in prepared remarks. “MxD is in a very strong position to fully take control of its own future in this high-growth market.”
UI LABS played an essential role in standing up MxD and its sister organization, City Tech, as they built out their respective teams, grew membership, launched projects and secured financial support. As each lab has matured, the need to share space and resources has waned while their missions and partners have become more distinct.
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.
Brown previously was CEO of a metal manufacturing company and then deputy assistant secretary of manufacturing at the U.S. Commerce Department, where she helped envision the nationwide network of 14 manufacturing institutes that includes MxD. Berman previously was chief information officer for the City of Chicago.
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. If the United States can fully embrace the digital revolution, McKinsey estimates that the country could achieve $3 trillion in manufacturing output by 2025, a 20 percent increase.
“I want to congratulate UI LABS for a job well done,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in prepared remarks. “They’ve stood up two innovation centers that are flourishing within their respective industries and have put Chicago on the forefront of the smart cities and smart manufacturing revolutions. This work will only accelerate with fresh funding and new partnerships in the coming year.”
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.
“There is no shortage of opportunity in the digital manufacturing space,” Brown said in prepared remarks. “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.”