On-Demand Paper Clips

3D Printers are great for printing out parts or items you need, but can they really help if you run out of paper clips? Yes, the all important and extremely overlooked bent metal fastener can put a serious damper on your day if not readily available. There is a solution to this problem, it’s called the Paper Clip Maximizer 1.0. The only consequence of using such a machine may be the destruction of mankind.

The machine takes a spool of wire and methodically bends it into a paper clip shape. Just like an extruder on a 3D Printer, there is a knurled drive wheel with a spring-loaded bearing pinching the wire. This drive wheel is powered by an RC servo that has been modified for continuous rotation. After the drive mechanism, the wire passes through a sturdy guide block. Upon exit, the wire finds the bending head, also powered by a servo. There is a bearing on the end of the bending head that is used to bend the wire around the guide block. After making several bends to form the paper clip, the bending head swings around to cut off the newly manufactured clip with an abrasive wheel. Unfortunately, this part of the process doesn’t work well. The cutoff wheel motor is powered directly by the Arduino that controls the entire machine, the power output of which is not enough to easily cut the wire. It can also leave a sharp burr on the cut wire which is not a great feature for paper clips to have. But we just see these as future fodder for hacking sessions!

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Helix Turning Tool Born From Necessity

helix turning tool

Sometimes while working on a project there comes a point where a specialized tool is needed. That necessary tool may or may not even exist. While [Fabien] was working on his DNA Lamp project he needed to bend a copper wire into a helical shape. Every one of us has wrapped a wire around a pencil and made a little springy thing at some point. While the diameter may have been constant, the turn spacing certainly was not. [Fabien] came up with a simple gizmo to solve that problem.

The tool utilizes an 8mm rod that will ensure the ID of the helix is indeed 8mm. We’ve already discussed that was the easy part. To make certain the turn spacing is not only consistent but also of the correct amount, a wooden frame is used. The frame has holes in it to allow the 8mm rod to pass through. Adjacent to those rod holes are much smaller holes just a bit larger than the copper wire that will become the helix. These holes are drilled at an angle to produce the correct turn spacing. [Fabien] figured out the correct angle by taking the desired turn spacing distance, helix diameter and wire diameter and plopping it in this formula:

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New and improved DIWire Bender

The DIWire bender we saw last summer made its way to Maker Faire this year with a new and improved version that is now able to bend steel even more accurately than the previous aluminum-bending version.

I chatted up [Marco Perry] (above, obviously), and he explained a new feature of the DIWire bender that makes soldering or welding creations made out of CNC bent wire even easier. The new machine features a sharpie that precisely marks where the wire should be welded.

The folks behind the DIWire – Pensa – have a ton of really cool wire sculptures at their booth at Maker Faire, quite incidentally within spitting distance of Hackaday’s Red Bull booth. Be sure to check them out if you’ve got a chance.

DIWire Bender makes nearly any shape imaginable

The people over at Pensa posted an awesome CNC wire bender on their blog. Robotic wire benders are common industrial machine that are very fun to watch. These machines can turn out custom wire-bent parts or sculptures in a matter of seconds. The Pensa team’s “DIWire Bender” might not be as fast as the big boys, but it works just the same.

From their Tumblr blog, we see that there are motors to draw the wire off a spool and into a hollow shaft. At the business end of the machine, there’s a small gear-driven bender that can form wire in just about any shape. There’s an awesome video of the DIWire Bender in action after the break if your mind is still trying comprehend how wire top hats and glasses can be made.

The Pensa team says they built this to fill a void in DIY fabrication machines – 3D printers are great and all, but some things can be done more easily by bending some wire.

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