Marcelo Coelho
marcelo (at) media (dot) mit (dot) edu

Assignment 2. Fab Machine

For this machine, I tried to create a fabricator similar to the self-assembler from the previous assignment, but where different active and passive materials could be combined to achieve different material properties and mechanisms.

The machine I designed is basically a wire bending machine with the additional capability of twisting different kinds of wires together.

what process(es) will it use?

It will need to cut, twist, bend and rotate wires or rods of different materials.

what will (and won't) it be able to do?

Fabricating actuators seems somewhat feasible, but fairly complex since it will require a high degree of precision and resolution.

what are the benefits (and disadvantages) over current practice?


  • It allows for the combination of several materials, so apart from an object's structure, it would be possible to build actuators, sensors etc.


  • It requires too many degrees of freedom and actuators, so it might turn out to be expensive.

what are the system components?

  • Feeder (connected to material spools)
  • Cutter (for cutting material after it's finished)
  • Twister (for joining different materials together)
  • Bending arm (to bend wires)
  • Wheel (for allowing the wire to be curved in different directions)

which parts exist, and which will require development?

Wire bending machines already exist. They could be adapted to include the possibility of combining different materials.

what will the workflow be from design to output?

It would need software to convert a 3D model into a single curved line.

how much will it cost?

Probably not very cheap, since it would require at least 5 motors.

how fast will it be?

Based on the speed of today's wire bending machines, probably very fast; however speed would depend on the number of curves in a design.

what consumables will it need?