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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World Maker Faire: We annoy the DIWire crew


Last year at Maker Faire we ran into the folks from Pensa Labs, the crew behind the very cool DIWire CNC wire bender. They were back again in full force this year with a new, improved, and soon-to-be commercially launched wire bender.

The first time we saw the DIWire it was a very cool piece of kit, but something that might not hold up to the rigours of a production environment. The latest version, a 14×8.5×5.5 inch machine designed to be set into a table, allowing for rapid manufacturing of nearly any shape imaginable bent into 1/8″ and 1/16″ steel wire.

Making any shape with the DIWire is extremely simple: if you have an SVG file, just import it into the software, define a few points along a path, and slip in a length of wire. One of the guys from Pensa was able to re-create the Hackaday logo is a few minutes.

It’s an impressive piece of kit that a few makers, hackers, and architects are using to build structures that can’t be made any other way. The DIWire will soon be released to the public, so check out their site for updates.