Millimetre is an award-winning design and fabrication company, established in 2006 and comprising 27 dedicated staff including expert designers, architects, joiners and fabricators.

Millimetre excels in the production of customized architecture and artworks on a large scale, bringing ambitious and intricate projects to fruition. 

Their experienced designers and architects utilize specialized software for technical design, from CNC Milling and sculpting to precision engineering. With two well-equipped workshops, Millimetre’s highly skilled team combines technical expertise and craft skills to facilitate bespoke manufacturing, including joinery, fabrication, finishing, and assembly. 

robotic case studies - millimetre
CNC Robotics Milling for Design

kara walker fons americanus

Kara Walker’s 13.5-metre-tall statue Fons Americanus, an epic working fountain, was installed in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern from October 2019 to April 2020.

The piece explores the narratives of slavery and exploitation underpinning the British Empire, using the Victoria Memorial in front of Buckingham Palace as inspiration into subverting the concept of official public monuments. Millimetre worked closely with Kara and team to develop, fabricate, and install both the fountain and grotto elements.

Much of the fountain structure was formed from untreated softwood and FSC spruce plywood with the use of steel kept to an absolute minimum. The final surface was formed from cementitious Jesmonite layered over the milled cork. The Jesmonite worked wet and cut back when semi-dry to produce the desired texture. 

The Solution

For Millimetre to complete the works on time, they needed their own 7 axis milling system. They therefore invested in a KUKA Quantec based milling system which was built by CNC robotics in early 2019. The robot ‘worked hard’ for the duration of the project, milling and shaping the topographical cork. Millimetre pushed boundaries and as a result developed several novel and innovative techniques whilst working on the project.

CNC Robotics Milling for Design

Machine use

The Kuka Quantec based milling system is capable of ‘wielding’ a variety of tools ie solid carbide cutters from 3mm diameter up to 40mm diameter x 500mm long, plus a variety of rasps/burrs and sanding drums.

The accuracy of the setup is good at +/- 1mm, allowing it to be utilised even when working on smaller/detailed pieces.

The Millimetre team design, model, and sculpt in Rhino, grasshopper, Solidworks and Freeform +. Powermill Ultimate takes care of the programming of toolpaths. The milling system has been used over the last 5 years to produce the varied and complex forms they have developed, in a wide variety of materials from cork, modified timbers through to stubbornly hard English oak.


Millimetre have used the robot milling system to produce:

  • Large scale sculptural public furniture [100+ metres in a modified timber]
  • Shaped parts for high-end furniture in various hardwoods.
  • Complex jigs – to assist with assembly and for metal bending.
  • Formers – for lamination and for steam bending processes.
  • Patterns used to cast parts in Aluminium, Bronze and Iron. Using the ‘stitched in frame’ method to produce accurate and stable 2-sided patterns in solid wood.
  • Form-finding, model making and setting out.

Special thanks to Millimetre’s team, Glasshopper and Matt Ridsdale, for their commitment to excellence in CNC milling for customized architecture and artworks.

CNC Robotics Milling for Design