by Fred Abler
I’ve always loved Alexander Calder. He was shabby, irascible, and brilliant in almost any media. The prolific American artist expressed himself effortlessly in sheet metal, wire, plywood, string, free-carving, and paint. And quite often, a combination of all of the above.
My favorite Calder works are his charming 3D wire sculptures. Calder first began showing his ‘Animal Circus’ (a menagerie of wire animals and caricature portraits) in Paris in 1927. It was the start of Calder’s lifelong interest in wire sculpture and kinetic art.
Fig 1. – 3D Wire Sketch, by Alexander Calder. Elephant (1928).
Now nearly a century later, you too can DIY some wireframe whimsy.. simply by exporting your drawing files from SketchUp into a new aluminum wire ‘3D printer’ from the New York design consultancy Pensa.
The DiWire ‘Bender’ is a makerbot that follows vector diagrams, to bend and shape pieces of wire into elaborate structures. It can easily handle 2D wire shapes, but somewhat amazingly, it also makes complex 3D wire “sketches” as well.
Take a look for yourself. Watch the DiWire bender in action on this video!
Fig 2. DiWire Bender. A MakerBot for 2D and 3D Wire bending from your vector files.
SketchUp Pro exports .obj files, which import into Pensa’s software for 3D bending. Or if you are interested in strictly 2D wireforms, you can use Adobe Illustrator or Inkscape (a free open source version of Illustrator).
I contacted Pensa Design’s Principal, Marco Perry. He confessed that Pensa has been somewhat overwhelmed by the tremendous interest in DIWire:
“People have told us about all sorts of uses they would have for one, from bending different kinds of metal to electro-luminescent wire and more. So we will open source it and put up plans and code on our blog soon – hope you make one for yourself!”
Marco Perry, Pensa Design
I was also curious about the choice of aluminum wire. Marco explained it’s not only malleable, but it has “almost zero spring back” making the alpha version easy to work with. Bending other materials is possible, he notes, but will need some additional calibration.
Marco said “perhaps in the future we will manufacture one..” but for the moment Pensa is content to open source DiWire. For the latest DiWire updates, code, specs, bill of materials, etc., pick your favorite social media and stay in touch with creative minds at Pensa.
Thanks for reading and subscribing! The FormFonts 3D Models Team