At Maker Faire Orlando, there was a shipping container that was perched near a walkway right in the middle of the event. I had looked at it, the night before the event opened and wondered what was inside. It turns out, that the shipping container was Mille, a portable manufacturing system.
Mille is designed to be shipped to a location and start manufacturing structures as soon as it hits the ground. Built into the system are all the servers and electronics as well as the mechanical structure needed to 3D print and then mill items on a fairly large scale.
The first thing that popped out to me was the very aesthetically pleasing design of the Mille mechanical parts, which can be attributed largely to Marcos Cruz, who designs custom cnc systems. He explained to me how this is servo controlled and he designed the entire gantry to mount to a single wall within the shipping container, reducing the amount of re calibration needed after a move.
For actual material, Mille extrudes a paste which is a mix of a proprietary binding agent and locally sourced materials. This paste isn’t particularly high resolution in its first pass. Once it hardens, the milling head comes through and refines the design, allowing for precision parts made from local materials.
The team is still working on getting the printing/milling to the quality they want and they hope to have the system ready to share with the world early this year.