DisneyResearchHub – Bend-It: Design and Fabrication of Kinetic Wire Characters
Elastically deforming wire structures are lightweight, durable, and can be bent within minutes using CNC bending machines. We present a computational technique for the design of kinetic wire characters, tailored for fabrication on consumer-grade hardware. Our technique takes as input a network of curves or a skeletal animation, then estimates a cable-driven, compliant wire structure which matches user-selected targets or keyframes as closely as possible. To enable large localized deformations, we shape wire into functional spring-like entities at a discrete set of locations. We first detect regions where changes to local stiffness properties are needed, then insert bendable entities of varying shape and size. To avoid a discrete optimization, we first optimize stiffness properties of generic, non-fabricable entities which capture well the behavior of our bendable designs. To co-optimize stiffness properties and cable forces, we formulate an equilibrium-constrained minimization problem, safeguarding against inelastic deformations. We demonstrate our method on six fabricated examples, showcasing rich behavior including large deformations and complex, spatial motion.