L: Original DIWire Bender process photos; R: Production version of the device
Update: Our own Don Lehman chatted with Marco Perry and Mark Prommel in today's episode of the Afterschool podcast.
If 2012 was a big year for Pensa, 2013 has been even bigger: Both Street Charge and the Core77 Design Awards Runner Up DIWire Bender, both of which they introduced about 18 months ago, have come to fruition this year. We would have been impressed if they'd brought just one of them to market, especially since the two projects could not be more different—besides, of course, the fact that they're both novel, useful products.
Which is a long way of saying that today sees the official Kickstarter launch of the consumer-ready DIWire Bender. Seeing as it's already at $40,000, we imagine they'd tipped off the interested parties who were duly impressed by the production version, which Pensa! has exhibited at Maker Faires in San Mateo and New York City and most recently at Engadget Expand over the weekend.
Clockwise from top left: One of their booths at World Maker Faire; rocking the glasses in San Mateo; and in NYC; a model of the Brooklyn Bridge
Besides the plug-and-play device itself—which has the matte black box aesthetic of MakerBot's Replicator 2—Pensa! has developed an ecosystem for hobbyist and practitioner alike: The custom software is intended to be straightforward enough for users of any skill level and they've even devised a system of plastic clips to facilitate assembly of multi-part projects. If one were inclined to make bad puns, one might say that the lowest radius of the DIWire Bender is its learning curve.
But don't be fooled by the simple interface (or the terrible joke): This is a professional-grade CNC tool and is intended to be used alongside other prototyping technologies, from 3D printers to lasercutters to CNC mills and routers.
By being transportable, accessible and affordable, the DIWire fills the market gap between time-consuming hand-bending and large scale, mass production CNC wire bending, which is too expensive for custom, short-run productions. This changes the dynamics of STEM education, as well as local, mass customized, prototype and just-in-time manufacturing for industries ranging from aerospace, automotive, medical, to consumer products.
Of course, the $2,750 pricetag—it's still available at the second of three early bird tiers as of press time; it'll eventually plateau at $3,200—might be a bit steep for your average garage-bound maker, but I can only imagine that less expensive alternatives will make their way to market shortly... as will more powerful ones. Perhaps it's only a matter of time before we all have walking, (back)talking Benders as companions:
Check out the DIWire Bender on Kickstarter—the five-week crowdfunding campaign launched this morning, and it's currently on track to top its goal by twentyfold. (Again, this initial spurt is likely a de facto pre-sale for folks in the know, but, as with the FORM 1, there's no reason to doubt that it will be a very successful campaign indeed.)
We spoke to Marco Perry and Mark Prommel in our latest episode of the Afterschool podcast. And in case you missed it, here's our video about Street Charge: