As the 3D printing industry grows and the technology becomes more capable and more complex, it’s interesting to watch the appearance of certain trends in 3D printer manufacturing. Right now, there are two things that are repeatedly standing out in the industry: size and multifunctional capabilities. Printers are getting bigger and bigger as 3D printed buildings become a reality, and companies are also starting to get very creative in terms of combining multiple manufacturing technologies into one machine.
Orlando-based startup Millebot Inc. has leveraged both size and multi-functionality in the creation of the Millebot, a gigantic multipurpose 3D printer/mill called Mille (pronounced “Millie”). The printer, which Millebot describes as a “mega sized industrial multi-tool digital fabrication system,” can print, mill and more, with multiple interchangeable tool heads that include clay and concrete extruders, a laser head, a plasma cutter, and more, with options for customization.
Mille can do just about anything, according to Millebot, describing the machine as ideal for manufacturing, disaster relief, temporary housing, prototyping, aerospace and automotive applications, etc. One thing that makes Mille especially interesting is the fact that every unit is built into a repurposed cargo container, making them easy to transport anywhere as well as protecting them from the elements. Each cargo container is air and water tight, stackable, and rigged with electronics including Wi-Fi capabilities, remote surveillance, and remote control capabilities. Low-maintenance and corrosion-proof, each unit has a lifespan of at least 30 years.
The machine itself features a closed loop electronic control system that ensures accuracy to within 1/1000 of an inch. The gigantic patent-pending printer offers a build area of 10 x 6 x 6 feet, yet it’s about as portable as a desktop printer; it’s essentially a factory in a box. It’s a smart factory, too.
“Our machine is designed and built with intelligence,” said Andy Tran, Millebot CEO. “We are developing proprietary software that controls the machine, where you can network into it, diagnose it, run operations.”
3DPrint.com was given the opportunity to speak to Tran and check out Mille in person last year. At that point, Mille was still very much a work in progress, but it has come a long way over the past year. Millebot, which currently works out of the Orlando fabrication lab and co-creation space Factur, unveiled Mille over the weekend at Maker Faire Orlando, which took place on October 22 and 23.
While the Millebot team was thrilled to be finally introducing Mille, which has been in development for five years, to the public, there was a bittersweet tone to the event as well. The pain of the June 12 shooting that claimed 49 lives at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub is still felt strongly throughout the city, and the Orlando natives at Millebot wanted to do something to honor the victims, so Mille’s first public project was to mill a sign reading #PulseOrlando, which Maker Faire attendees were given the opportunity to paint in bright colors in exchange for donations.
“It was very simple…We’re a locally based company here in Orlando, so we wanted to bring the community together,” said Jack DeMarco, Millebot’s Media Specialist.
All donations (a total of $100) gathered from the project, plus the sign itself, will be given to the Pulse of Orlando Fund. If you’re interested in purchasing or leasing a Mille unit, investing in the company, or have any other questions, you can contact Millebot here. Below, you can hear more from Tran and DeMarco onsite at Maker Faire Orlando:
Discuss in the Millebot forum at 3DPB.com.