Design of desktop-scale metal wire-feed prototyping machine
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The appearance of desktop 3D printers has inspired a trend toward increased personal fabrication. However, there are few desktop systems that can process metal for prototyping. This thesis reports on the design of a desktop scale prototyping machine that uses metal wire as a precursor material. The machine is intended for use by makers to produce wire-form prototypes, such as wire sculptures. The design of the system assumes a layer-based fabrication approach. As such, the joining capability of the machine is the most important subsystem. During the research, various conceptual configurations were developed and investigated to determine their thermal bonding efficiency using a metallurgical welding simulation model. The selected bonding method is TIG welding. Two experiments were conducted to test the bonding speed and strength of the bonding spot to validate the feasibility of the concept. A wire bending subsystem was also developed. The selected wire bender is oriented vertically and uses a servo motor and solenoid to perform wire bending and cutting.