Makers have numerous 3D printers to choose from these days, but the vast majority of them accomplish pretty much the same exact task. Brooklyn-based design consultancy Pensa wanted to create a completely different kind of desktop manufacturing machine that could open up new avenues of fabrication by bending wires instead of printing plastic, and they recently launched their new DIWire Bender at Engadget Expand NY. The DIWire Bender (see what they did with the name there?) is the world's first desktop CNC wire bender of its kind, and is capable of translating 2D computer line drawings into bent wire shapes that can be assembled into just about anything. Click through to see a video of the DIWire Bender in action, and read on to see how you can reserve one for yourself through their just-launched Kickstarter campaign.
“We are excited about creating an entirely new form of desktop manufacturing,” said Marco Perry, partner at Pensa. “We believe this open all kinds of new possibilities, especially if you combine the DIWire technology with other desktop manufacturing machines.”
So what differentiates the DIWire Bender from a 3D printer or a cutter? The answer might be pretty obvious from its name – instead of dispensing layers of plastic like a 3D printer or using a laser/blade to cut, the DIWire Bender creates shapes by bending wire. While the concept might seem simplistic (especially considering that the machine “thinks” and works in the less sexy 2-dimensional world), the DIWire Bender opens up a whole new world of applications.
For example, one issue many 3D printers struggle with is build size. In most cases, the size of the completed object cannot exceed the size of the machine’s printing plate. With the DIWire Bender, the idea is that almost any type of 3-dimensional object can be broken down into 2D planes, which can then be fabricated with the DIWire Bender separately. Then, just solder together the pieces to create both small and large objects.
Strength of materials is another obvious plus with the DIWire Bender since it uses primarly metal instead of plastics, which can be brittle (it can actually bend some plastics also, according to Pensa). The machine can bend steel wires anywhere as thin as 1/16” up to ⅛” up to 130° in a single bend.
Kathy Larchian, partner at Pensa, demonstrating the strength of a truss created using the DIWire Bender.
The Bender comes with its own software and does not require any special skills. To bend, just save a drawing as an SVG file, drag it into the DIWire software, and press “Bend”. The program then tells you how much wire you’ll need and even allows you to adjust scale and resolution. Most bending jobs can be completed in under a minute.
“Our software doesn’t require specialty skills,” explains Mark Prommel, partner at Pensa. “Just drag-n-drop your file and press bend.”
Pensa is already beta testing the DIWire at businesses and school in the new York City area. The response has been overwhelmingly positive, and the machine’s unique ability to demonstrate how 2D objects can easily be compounded into 3D ones is a valuable addition to STEM/STEAM education. “We want to encourage creativity in students young and old by making the DIWire simple to use and fast,” says Kathy Larchian, partner at Pensa. “You can quickly go from a line on a screen to a physical part in only minutes.”
To get your own DIWire Bender, reserve one at Pensa’s Kickstarter page here.
Photos ©Yuka Yoneda