Exercise 03 > Wire Bending

This exercise was based on using a BeetleBlocks SVG-writer to bend 1/8th inch wire on the DI-Wire.


2D-3D STUDY 60 DEGREES > BB file here

We altered Liz’s Hex Twist BB script from Exercise 01 to make the SVG for our first wire bend attempt.


The goal was just to get something out of the machine.


When the bend was complete, we were frustrated that the angles were not quite correct, leaving segments that should have been parallel way off. However, we quickly realized that the kinks from the machine allowed us to easily adjust the bends by hand.


Before we knew what we were doing, we had bent our 2D output into a 3D object.


We were really just messing with it because we wanted it to look cooler (we thought it looked pretty lame and useless just flat).


We bent it into a 3rd dimension by hand every 2-4 corners.


Because of the nature of bending 1/8th inch wire by hand, our segments are now a little wonky and curved. It definitely looks like a coat hanger that a child was playing with.



2D-3D STUDY @ 90 DEGREES > BB file here

Next, using the same basis of concept as our first bending attempt, we produced a 3D bent wire with only 90 degree angles. We shifted from the 60 degree angles to the 90 degree angles in an attempt to create a wire piece that could be physically used in a machine by spinning it on an axis.


In 2D, this would have produced a flat plane crank, and in 3D, a cross-plane crank.


We didn’t script pauses into the SVG, and just went for it with the wire bender.


We rotated the wire 90 or 180 or 270 degrees as it was going through when the wire seemed far enough out to turn.


It was hectic and not exactly a fruitful process as it wasn’t really thought out.


We ran the SVG and just went “Ahh, turn it! Ok turn it again! Ok not yet…. turn it again!”


We now began to realize that our haphazard attitude toward the wire-bender definitely needed to be brought down, and we needed to be very specific about our process if we wanted to output the intended result.




We made several sketches for springs that we wanted to test out on the wire bender.


However, We had a lot of trouble with the machine pushing the wire through enough. We made these sketches on rhino just to play out some iterative ideas, but the square shaped ones proved much more difficult to BB script that we assumed.


We couldn’t quite figure out a formula, and just ended up writing it through coordinates (please don’t do this, it was a ridiculous idea). Looking back, we think it might have actually been easier to script the formula if we didn’t decide to center the pattern around the origin – because while there was obviously a pattern in the coordinates, creating the formula for the pattern was too mind-bending in the moment.


Seriously – look how obnoxious this script is.


Watch a really depressing video of the wire bender not working here.

Fast forward a few days! The wire bender is fixed and we finally have the chance to try out our fun spring.


Except that the wire is STILL getting caught and not pushing through all the way once in a while. It was running great for a few bends, and of course the second we glance away, it stalls.


Now we just try to be ultra prepared to push it through by hand when the machine doesn’t catch the wire. This is not a very precise science at all and we still have segments coming out way too short (and a few that we overcorrected and are too long).


The result is definitely not a spring – but possibly a really large, fairly useless paperclip?




After the square spring debacle, we decided to try what felt like a safer circle-based spring script.


Unlike the square spring script, this one is super simple and easy to understand.


Because the wire is so thick and the scale so small, you really can’t tell that it was supposed to look like a rotating/overlapping circle.


It mostly looks like an octagon spring that was bent on a machine that wasn’t quite calibrated.


We thought that this was a pretty boring result, but at least we produced something semi-functional.


Really, this reminded us what we already knew — the real world of fabrication is not a perfect reflection of the perfect-crispness on your computer screen.





The idea was to use the wire bender to create the frame for a minimal surface. 


We were confused about how to go about this in BB so we started out in Rhino with a surface.


We then measured the angles and line lengths to create our line for the wire bender.


We realized that it definitely seemed like a round-about way of attacking the idea, but we did it anyway. This seems to be a trend — trying things that we know aren’t really great ideas, but hoping it leads us somewhere!


We then had to really use our strength to bend the wire for the ends to meet head on.


We taped them up with electrical tape.


And then — just for fun, we scrounged up some scrap nylons in studio and stretched it over the frame.