Over a year ago, Pensa Labs caught our attention with its impressive DIWire Bender, a small machine that bends thick wires into elaborate 3D shapes by following simple vector drawings. Since then, the company has been refining the wooden prototype we saw before into a sleek fabrication device that's fit for consumers. The result is a more compact, easier-to-use DIWire that can turn pieces of wire into creative 3D sculptures while sitting comfortably on a desktop.
At about the same time it revealed its invention back in May 2012, Pensa Labs also made the DIWire's software and physical design openly available through its website. As more tinkerers began building their own wire-bending machines at home, the company started gathering feedback to improve upon its original concept and produce a model that would be accessible to both amateur and professional designers.
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The new DIWire measures 16 x 10 x 8 in (40.6 x 25.4 x 20.3 cm) and operates as easily as most desktop printers. Wire is loaded into one end, where a series of feeding rollers ensure it's straight before sending it to a bending head. The machine is capable of forming curves and angles up to 135 degrees while rotating the wire in any direction, giving users quite a bit of freedom in their designs. Pensa Labs also says its invention is particularly suited for beginners, since it doesn't require any 3D modeling skills like most fabrication devices.
After connecting the DIWire to a computer via USB, users simply drag and drop an SVG file into the included software to get started. This software translates vector drawings into precise directions for a bending head to follow. The program will automatically detect points in the image that the machine cannot bend, giving the user a chance to adjust the design's scale and resolution to correct it. Once that's taken care of, it's just a matter of hitting the "Bend" button on the screen and watching the machine recreate the line drawing out of wire in a matter of minutes.
According to Pensa Labs, the DIWire is compatible with a wide range of materials, including steel, aluminum, brass, copper, and cold bend plastic. Depending on the type of material that's loaded, the machine can bend any wire between 1/25 and 1/8 inch in diameter. The feeding mechanism will automatically adjust itself for any wire within these sizes, though the actual bending head may need to be swapped out to match. The company plans to include a 1/8-inch and 1/16-inch bending head in the package, though custom heads will also be available to order.
The developers at Pensa Labs originally saw the DIWire as a tool for building prototypes, but they've found that people can be remarkably creative with just a few bits of wire. By soldering or welding multiple pieces together, users can also construct much more complex objects or build the underlying framework for a project that involves materials other than wire. Rather than just making rudimentary sculptures, some designers have been able to build structures for small appliances and even customized furniture.
Pensa Labs recently launched a Kickstarter campaign and is hoping to raise US$100,000 to begin full-scale manufacturing of the improved DIWire. Anyone interested in getting their own desktop wire-bending machine can pre-order one by contributing $3,200 or more, unless they're quick enough to grab one of the specially discounted packages. If all goes accoeding to plan, the first batch is expected to ship in July 2014.
For now, you can watch to video below to see some of the inventive creations that can be made with the DIWire.