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3M has many East Coast customers and millions of dollars in military contracts.

And while the international behemoth has had a presence in Washington, D.C., for 50 years, until last week it did not have a demonstration area like it does at its Maplewood headquarters to explain to potential customers how its varied technologies work.

Now, that 9,000-square-foot innovation center will serve as a prototype for the company’s demonstration centers across the globe. It is the first to be built with the company’s new branding: “3M Science. Applied to Life.”

The center “reflects our vision to improve every life through innovation,” said CEO Inge Thulin at the ceremonial ribbon-cutting last week. “Everyone who has an opportunity to experience this center can see the power of 3M science and how we apply science to life.”

For example, one display explains 3M’s work with the University of Michigan on autonomous vehicles and how its technology and strategies are related to the project.

Space in 3M’s existing D.C. offices near the Capitol and the White House was used for the center, which employs 20 people. The company did not release the cost.

At the center, customers can “dialogue on how 3M can help and support them on their ambitions,” said Eric Quint, 3M’s chief design officer.

While the customers could travel to 3M headquarters, having 3M scientists and sales professionals travel to the D.C. site could be more convenient for customers, the company said. Also, 3M said it allows the company to explain its products to “key decisionmakers in D.C.”

“The approach to this center builds on our solid foundation of creating memorable R & D experience centers to showcase our solutions and initiate or advance our dialogue with customers,” said Rory Yanchek, vice president of 3M Government Markets, in a statement. “In D.C., we foster collaboration and co-creation with customers in a shared goal to deliver value while improving the lives of people around the world.”