The micro-factory concept has gained wide support and acceptance based on the ability of small machine tools to accomplish the same tasks as traditionally sized machine tools while using a fraction of the space. Although it is frequently mentioned that a micro-factory is an energy saving endeavor, there is a dearth of hard data on how much energy is actually saved.
The intent of this report is to quantify the difference in energy consumed in a micro-factory and a macro-factory though experimentation with a micro- and a macro-mill. This quantification allows for the potential of unit life cycle analyses to be performed in the future. A fluidic channel was machined in workpieces of aluminum and steel by both micro- and macro-mills under a variety of machining conditions and the recorded data has been analyzed to this end. The variables investigated were the spindle speed, the mill type, and the material the cutting process was performed on. The conclusions reached through experimentation were that the micro-mill used between 13.5% and 21.7% of the energy used for the macro-mill.
Additionally the energy differences in climate control were investigated for comparable macro- and micro-factories. The mock macro-factory used for this analysis was three times the size of the micro-factory. Due to the larger size of the macro-building, the climate control energy usages were also about three times as high as in the micro-building.