Jan 6, 2017 | By Benedict
Construction startup Millebot has introduced Mille, an industrial-sized 3D printer and mill housed within a shipping container. The company sees the giant manufacturing machine being used in construction, disaster relief, aerospace, and more.
Use of 3D printing or additive manufacturing technology in the construction sphere is increasing on a daily basis. Thanks to a wider range of 3D printable materials than ever before, construction and architecture companies have been able to fabricate huge 3D printed structures, including houses and offices, that will be able to withstand prolonged use. There are, however, a few obstacles left to overcome for construction-focused 3D printers, one of which is mobility. Since the kind of 3D printer required to print parts of a building is usually on the larger side, getting those printers onto a construction site can be a mammoth task—and that’s before considerations like powering and weather-proofing the printer are taken into account.
Companies in the additive manufacturing industry are approaching this mobility problem in different ways. Dutch company CyBe Construction, for example, has developed a concrete 3D printer that moves around on caterpillar tracks—perfect for navigating the difficult terrain of a construction site. But there are other solutions too: Millebot Inc, a company based in Winter Park, Florida, recently created a massive 3D printer and mill hybrid that is housed within a standard shipping container, making it transportable via sea, rail, or other means. The incredibly cool-looking manufacturing machine was exhibited at Maker Faire Orlando back in October 2016.
The standardized shipping container system, developed after World War II, has enabled companies from all over the world to greatly reduce shipping costs, and has served to massively increase global trade. Since shipping containers have standardized measurements, they can be loaded, stacked, and transported easily over long distances, while numbering and tracking systems ensure that each unique container is easily identifiable. By buying into the containerization system, Millebot can send its unique 3D printer anywhere in the world with ease, while the recipient can also be confident that the machinery inside will remain undamaged over its many journeys, before and after delivery.
Billed by Millebot as a “factory of the future” concept, the Mille 3D printer gives users on-demand additive and subtractive manufacturing capabilities, thanks to its multi-head fabrication tool that can both print and mill. Using a proprietary clay material that is self-curing and hardens on demand (or other materials, such as a sand mixture or a recycled glass and plastic mix), the Mille 3D printer can create objects and structures that are purportedly 3-5 times harder than cement or red brick. Moreover, these structures can measure up to 70” x 265” x 70” (on the company’s “light duty” 40’ 3D printer). The proprietary clay material was developed by Millebot and Dr. John Pojman, a cure-on-demand polymer expert and president of Pojman Polymer Products.
According to Millebot, the Mille 3D printer and mill hybrid offers another advantage in addition to creating large and strong structures: speed. The new machine can reportedly print at 200 mm/sec or mill at 500 inches per minute, making it surprisingly fast for such a large and versatile machine. The Millebot team are also pretty fast themselves, as they claim they can deliver one of the huge printers to a customer in 60-90 days—presumably via standard shipping container routes. The 3D printer and mill hybrid is available either in a 20-foot or 40-foot container, and can be optimized for heavy duty or light duty use.
Despite being a fairly complex and substantial piece of manufacturing equipment that offers both additive and subtractive capabilities, the Mille 3D printer is apparently fairly easy to use. “With any new machine, there is a slight learning curve,” Millebot says. “But with Millebot’s easy-to-use interface and easy-to-follow user guide, learning to use the Mille won’t be difficult.”
Millebot hopes to have the Mille 3D printer and mill available for commercial use within the year.
Mille 3D printer build sizes:
- 40’ heavy duty: 65” x 265” x 65”
- 40’ light duty: 70” x 265” x 70”
- 20’ heavy duty: 65” x 132” x 65”
- 20’ light duty: 70” x 132” x 70”
Posted in 3D Printer
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Andy wrote at 1/13/2017 4:10:17 AM:
Hey guys, thanks for writing an awesome article about us. We will keep you up to date with new news about millebot. Thanks again Andy Tran CEO, Millebot https://www.linkedin.com/in/andyttran