Week 17

This week we had to choose our final project. Everybody is starting to stress a little because there's not much time to finish, so we had to define our ideas this week and start working right away.

So far all our projects are pretty cool, and I think everything that's been proposed is doable, hopefully everybody will finish on time!


  • Decide a Final Project and start working on it.

  • Weekly Progress >

    First, we had our weekly lecture with Neil Gershenfeld, you can watch it here.

    Sylvia Martinez hosted this week’s lecture, we talked about Fab Education.

    Using technology to make, repair, or customize the things we need brings engineering, design, and computer science to the masses. Fortunately for educators, this maker movement overlaps with the natural inclinations of children and the power of learning by doing.

    Sylvia works in schools around the world to bring the power of authentic learning into classrooms, particularly in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) subjects. Sylvia speaks, writes, and advocates for student-centered, project-based learning, gender equity in technology, computer programming, and life-long learning. For the past ten years, Sylvia was President of Generation YES, a non-profit with a mission of empowering young people to improve their schools and communities with modern technology.

    Previous to Generation YES, Sylvia was in charge of product development at several software publishers, designing and creating video games and educational software. Sylvia also had a career in aerospace engineering as a senior scientist on the GPS navigational satellite system research and development. She holds a masters in educational technology and a bachelors in electrical engineering.

    Assingment >

    For this week the main task was to select a final project, I was a bit doubtful because I would like to work in a lot of different subjects that it was hard to define myself. At the end, and after meditating a lot, I choose a project that I believe has a lot of potential to be a standard tool that can fit to the Fab Lab environment.

    The machine I'm proposing is a wire bending machine. Obviously not at this insane speed!

    What drives me into trying to build one of this machines is that is a low level prototyping tool, giving you the chance of make low cost volumes at early stages in a product design process, which can save a lot of time an money.

    Also an important fact is that you produce very low amount of material waste and most of the materials you can use are reusable or recyclable, for example aluminum wire.

    These are the main reasons that made me decide to make this machine:

  • You can interact with the volume you are designing.

  • Reduced cost of prototyping by using low quantities of material and reusable/recyclable material.

  • You can wrap the wire structure with any material you want to give it a surface.

  • You can also produce functional parts for final objects.

  • When talking to Ferdi (our tutor), about my project, he recommended me to research about Dan Gelbart, an engineer and innovator, who has a really good video series called "Building Prototypes".

    So I started my research to find what has been done before, and I found Pensa Lab's Diwire machine, which follows the same idea that I have, and developed at a consumer level. It was very inspiring for me finding this machine, because I got proof that this was a good idea.

    The good thing of having found this company is that the had an open source prototype of the machine, so it was perfect because before this I had no idea of how to make it. I will use their ideas as an inspiration for developing my own machine.

    Main tasks to be done in order to make the machine are:

  • Mechanical design of pieces.

  • Electronic design and production of PCBs.

  • UX/UI for controlling the machine.

  • 2D/3D Design

  • CNC Machining

  • This is a general list of materials and components I think I will need:

  • Stepper motors

  • Gears and custom parts

  • Nuts, bolts, bearings, threaded bars, etc.

  • MDF board / wood

  • Power supply

  • Motor Drivers

  • Solenoid

  • Fabduino or similar

  • Motor Drivers

  • * The idea is to build this machine with things we have or can produce at any Fab Lab.

    In terms of costs, I want it to be as low as I can get. My reference, Pensa lab's machine, actual commercial cost is $3,375.00, which is just to much; their open source option is about more or less €550, which is a lot less but still a big number, my aim is to reduce that cost 50% - 60%, first estimates throw something like €160 per prototype.

    In terms of processes, I´ll have to custom made the structure of the machine which can require CNC milling and/or laser cut, also 3D printing for gears, supports, etc. Electronics are also a big part; making a fabduino and the stepper driver (not shure). Also programming - interface design for controling the machine.

    This are the processes that will be used:

  • CNC milling

  • CNC lasercut

  • 3D printing

  • Programming / coding

  • One of the questions I need to answer at this point is of I can get rid of the solenoid and make the bending pins fixed, shouldn't be that complicated but let's see.

    This is a Gantt chart I've made in order to finish the project in time. This is not definitive, but it is always good to have everything calculated if you don't want to get lost in the process.

    I use GanttProject which is a nice program to create time charts, is a free program.

    For me this project is a success if I can make the machine bend something simple, a small thing. I've never done a machine like this before and so far I don't really know how complex it will be. After having this done I can focus in the interface to connect to a computer.

    Also, I think that because we don't have to much time to finish, just make the machine bend something is a realistic goal, then with more time, I will keep improving the machine.