Re Mixers uses disruptive engineering for AI-designed static mixer

Re Mixers, a Madison-based startup that got second place in the 2016 Governor’s Business Plan Contest, is trying to break into the adhesive application market with disruptive engineering and design.

The company secured a $500,000 investment from N29 Capital Partners in December, and Eric Ronning, co-founder of Re Mixers, doesn’t see the company slowing down at all.

“Our technology extends beyond adhesives; that opens the door to the world of chemical mixing,” Ronning said. “We’re looking down the road to explore opportunities.”

The company’s ‘static-mixing’ nozzle greatly improves upon existing epoxy-mixing technology, and was designed using artificial intelligence–or AI–to test and repeatedly improve upon design simulations as the AI program runs analysis.

“We have found a way to automatically innovate,” Ronning said. “We want to apply the techniques used to design the mixer to other processes altogether.”

The static-mixing nozzle was designed to replace mixers with moving parts, which traditionally combine multiple streams of chemicals using consecutive mixer elements so they react together more strongly. The striations, or number of streams in the mix, are doubled at each mixer element.

Re Mixers’ design would replace legacy mixers with a specially constructed pipe, which mixes chemicals much more efficiently. It has no moving parts, only specialized geometry that mixes fluid as it flows through.

Rather than doubling the streams at each step, the static-mixing nozzle multiplies them by a factor of 10. So rather than going from two, to four, to eight streams and so on, the Remex Static Mixer goes from two, to 20, to 200.

“This affords a lot of advantages,” Ronning said.

One of these is increasing the strength for adhesives by up to 20 percent, an important benefit for manufacturers. Another is reducing waste.

The nozzle is much shorter than traditional mixers, which means less adhesive material is left behind in the disposable piece when it’s time to replace.

“Adhesives are really expensive,” Ronning said. “You could be spending the cost of the mixer itself just on the wasted adhesive.”

Re Mixers, which is part of the Sector67 coworking space in Madison, is still in its early stages, with only Ronning and his co-founder Brian Pekron running the ship, but they have plans to “grow and expand, but in a realistic fashion.”

The idea came out of UW-Madison’s D2P, or Discovery to Product program, which helps student entrepreneurs get their ideas off the ground. Ronning and Pekron were awarded a $65,800 grant from D2P, and have since filed a patent for their invention after incorporating on Dec. 27.

Carl Ruedebusch, head of N29 Capital Partners, says the investment group pays special attention to young Wisconsin companies that are state tax credit certified and have gone through an accelerator or D2P program.

“We like see disruptive tech in the marketplace,” Ruedebusch said. “We think [ReMixers] will change how adhesives are applied.”

According to Ronning, more investors should look to universities throughout Wisconsin for up-and-coming talent.

“I think there is a lot of opportunity on campus–the University of Wisconsin produces a lot of great research,” he said. “It takes researchers and investors coming together and educating each other about opportunities that exist.”

–By Alex Moe