Photo of the assembly test bed featured on MxD’s Factory Floor.
Photo of the assembly test bed featured on MxD’s Factory Floor.

Advancing American Manufacturing

Manufacturing is the base of American competitiveness. In the early 2010s, as the nation grappled with how to pull itself out of the worst economic crisis in two generations, leaders from government, industry, and academia laid out a plan to advance the nation’s manufacturing sector.

Three federal agencies — Defense, Commerce, and Energy — would stand up a network of manufacturing institutes with the goal of developing new ideas, technology, and methods to strengthen American manufacturing.

Training a cadet for manufacturing workforce development.
Training a cadet for manufacturing workforce development.

Partnering with the Defense Department

MxD, previously called DMDII (Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute), is the second of the 16 institutes, known collectively as Manufacturing USA. The U.S. Department of Defense awarded the organization $80 million in seed funding in 2014, following a national competition.

The City of Chicago marshalled support for the bid and, along with the State of Illinois, provided much of the funding for the build out of a vacant windows and doors factory, transforming the space into MxD’s offices, events and factory floor.

Since its founding, the institute has awarded more than $120 million to more than 85 research and development projects across 35 states. Further, about 12,000 guests visit each year for tours and meetings in a typical year.

Governor Pritzker addresses the crowd at the press conference announcing MxD and DoD’s contract renewal.
Governor Pritzker addresses the crowd at the press conference announcing MxD and DoD’s contract renewal.

Renewed Commitment

In recent years, MxD has broadened its focus from research and development to include projects that are much closer to implementation. For instance, Dow, Microsoft, ITAMCO, and two universities are teaming up to build a supply chain risk alert system that will warn manufacturers of delays caused by emergencies, weather, or natural disasters.

In February 2019, the DoD awarded MxD a new five-year contract of up to $60 million, with $10 million committed in 2019. In the years ahead, MxD intends to tackle some of the military’s most challenging manufacturing problems while also serving as a central hub for data on the sector’s competitiveness.

MxD’s History

  • 2012

    Manufacturing USA Created

    Then-President Barack Obama announces the creation of a network of 14 advanced manufacturing institutes. The first of them, a pilot focused on 3-D printing in Youngstown, Ohio, opens.

  • 2013

    Chicago Bids

    Under the leadership of then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago competes against dozens of cities for an institute focused on digital manufacturing and design.

  • 2014

    Chicago Wins

    The White House announces that the Pentagon will award MxD (then DMDII) $80 million in initial funding to stand up a digital manufacturing institute.

  • 2014

    Congress Passes Bipartisan Bill

    Congress passes the bipartisan Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act, establishing a national office for the network of institutes and future Department of Commerce-led institutes.

  • 2015

    First Call for Project Ideas

    The institute calls for research and development projects in the areas of cyber physical security, advanced manufacturing enterprise, intelligent machines, and advanced analysis.

  • 2015

    Facility Opens

    The Skidmore, Owings & Merrill-designed building opens, featuring a 22,000-square-foot manufacturing floor, large event space, classrooms, offices, a cafe, and an open atrium.

  • 2017

    Foundational Workforce Projects

    MxD partners with Coursera to release a “digital manufacturing 101” course online. It also partners with ManpowerGroup to define the manufacturing roles of the future.

  • 2017

    Membership Surpasses 300

    Dow, Lockheed Martin, Rolls-Royce, Siemens, and McKinsey become top-tier partners. McKinsey and Siemens open demonstration projects on the factory floor.

  • 2018

    Cybersecurity Center Launches

    The institute announces federal funding for a new National Center for Cybersecurity in Manufacturing with about $1 million in seed funding from the Defense Department.

  • 2018

    Rock Island Arsenal Partnership

    The institute and the U.S. Army announce a partnership to speed production at Rock Island, the nation’s largest government-owned weapons manufacturer.

  • 2019

    Name Change; DoD Renews

    DMDII becomes MxD (Manufacturing x Digital), and the U.S. Department of Defense renews its commitment to the institute, awarding $10 million in funding in 2019 and committing to four additional years of support.

  • 2020

    Pandemic Highlights National Needs

    Early in COVID, MxD supports local production of face shields for area hospitals, then pivots to virtual programming and digging in on supply chain and other pressing national needs.

  • Reports & Resources


    Manufacturing USA Rapid Response to COVID-19 Report

    This special report highlights how 9 institutes in the Manufacturing USA network worked with 91+ partners across 24 states and Puerto Rico on 36 manufacturing innovation projects to combat COVID-19.

    Read Report Here

    Manufacturing USA 2019 & 2020 Highlights Report

    This comprehensive report highlights the manufacturing technology and workforce development innovations underway at the manufacturing innovation institutes that are part of Manufacturing USA.

    Read Report Here

    Report to Congress: Fiscal Year 2019

    The Annual Report to Congress documents the progress of Manufacturing USA in meeting its goals and highlights accomplishments of the federal agency-sponsored manufacturing institutes that participated in Manufacturing USA in fiscal year 2019. 

    Read Report Here

    Manufacturing USA Strategic Plan

    This is the revised strategic plan for Manufacturing USA. It describes the vision, mission, and goals and objectives.

    Read Report Here