Marco Perry is co-founder of PENSA, a New York consultancy that designs and improves products. It wouldn’t be too far off to say that innovation is his business. A short while ago Pensa designed,demonstrated and then open sourced an automatic wire forming printer.
The DIWire has attracted a lot of attention and Pensa is even hoping on unveiling an improved version at the 2012 Maker Faire. Openalia sat down with Mr. Perry for a quick discussion of the DIWire specifically, and open source hardware in general.
Perry: Originally we were working on designing a chair and we didn’t have a good way to produce the models. We thought up a wire forming printer as a tool for quickly defining a shape with a lot of empty space, like a chair. Of course the project was finished long before the DIWire was available, but it still seemed like a good idea. We use rapid prototyping a lot at Pensa, but the existing technology can’t produce lines in space. There’s a big hole that the DIWire could fill.
In recent years, 3D rapid prototyping machines have gone mainstream. And we’ve been excited to see 3D printers spreading beyond businesses to individuals, with the aid of a little DIY ingenuity (e.g., Makerbots, RepRap, etc.). All these machines work on the same principal – to create a form, they split a volume into thin slices, and build up the form by printing a layer of material and bonding it to the next. The main difference between the build technologies (SLA, SLS, FDM and others) is the material and the bonding methods.
But there are times when we need to output lines in space rather than volumes. Most 3D printing technologies are not well suited for printing thin lines because the materials are weak, the machine uses a lot of 3D-print support material, and the process is slow. The closest thing to a machine that can output lines is a CNC wire bender, but these machines are used almost exclusively for mass production in factories. They are not used for rapid prototyping because the equipment is large, expensive and takes trained personnel to run. So, we decided to make the DIWire Bender.
The DIWire Bender is a rapid prototype machine that bends metal wire to produce 2D or 3D shapes.
Claire accidentally sits on her glasses at work, but then she has a wildly creative idea - she’ll 3D bend a new pair! Claire goes to work, using Pensa’s DIWire bender she makes a handful of new fun and stylish designs. In the end finding a pair that she likes even more than her originals.