The D.I. Wire Bender by PENSA llc is an arduino-controlled CNC machine that bends metal wire to produce 2D and 3D shapes - an interesting take on a 3D printer. The D.I. Wire Bender can read vector files, OBJ files, text commands, and coordinates.
This is one of very few low-cost machines I've seen that can do rapid prototyping in metal - and it is open source! The Google Code project page is here. You will need tougher motors if you want to use tougher materials than 1/8" aluminum wire/rod.
I find the D.I. Wire Bender exciting for the following reasons:
- Rapid Prototyping in Metal is typically expensive; this could be a lot cheaper.
- CNC Rapid Prototyping is even better, because it removes a few chances for human error
- If we can do this, we can make a CNC pipe bender - Which would open up doors for rapidly prototyping and manufacturing new vehicle designs. For example, a CNC pipe bender would make it easy for the MakerPlane team to print out structural components for future non-composite aircraft designs.