MicroMill Provides Desktop CNC Capabilities
Tom Spendlove posted on May 18, 2017 | 1010 views

The team at RP3D wanted a way to create high quality components in their facility, but the team couldn’t find a system that was affordable, timely and produced the quality they needed. Their solution was to create their own CNC milling machine called MicroMill, and fund the first run of production parts with a Kickstarter campaign.

MicroMill is designed to cut or engrave any materials that are softer than steel. The unit ships fully assembled instead of as a kit of parts, and the project is committed to the Open Source philosophy for software and hardware. MicroMill uses Nema 23 stepper motors and a microcontroller that can adjust the speed of the cutter from 5-20,000 rotations per minute.

The build window is 115 x 110 x 64 millimeters, and the full unit requires 262 x 196 x 222 millimeters on a desktop. MicroMill weighs 6 kilograms and can accept cutters up to 3.2 millimeters in diameter. Details can be cut with up to 0.0125 millimeters resolution. Special attention was paid to sourcing components, using Nema 23 stepper motor, igus self-lubricating bearings, and the Proxxon rotary unit.

Currently the processing from idea to finished part requires three steps. Parts can designed in CAD software and exported as STL files. Tool path generation can be done through CAM software, RP3D recommends MeshCam or SketchuCam, to generate the g-code. The g-code is then pushed to the MicroMill through USB cable and the cutting begins.

MicroMill looks like a well-designed and well-built entry into the desktop manufacturing marketplace. The commitment to open source is interesting to me and ideally a community of people can thrive using the first machines as a launching point. It’s also worth noting that first units are scheduled to ship in September 2017, a very short window for a project of this size. The campaign is fully funded and will end on May 26, 2017. 

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