For the past couple months I’ve been busy developing the “Power Feed” feature of the AG Bender™. The idea behind Power Feed is to:
- Eliminate the need to anchor the AG Bender before use. Installers sometimes struggle to find a solid mounting location in their van or at the worksite; now you can just plop the machine on any surface and start bending!
- Eliminate the need to pull material through the machine while awkwardly walking backward. The pulling action could lead to lower back strain or a fall if the machine attachment were to fail.
- Speed up the whole wire mesh bending process.
- Provide all these benefits while keeping the machine portable, compact and non-reliant on AC power.
Here’s a quick video of the latest prototype (R5.2) in action:
It took several design iterations of the sprocket tooth profile and axle linkage in order to apply pressure to the wire mesh in just the right amounts – both horizontally (to drive the mesh forward) and vertically (to keep the teeth engaged with the mesh). This was accomplished by linking the drive axle to the machine with a diagonal link whose angle establishes a stable ratio between those forces. I was initially hesitant to mount the drive mechanism to the entry rather than the exit of the machine, thinking that material could buckle or shift sideways when pushed from behind. Fortunately, this turned out to be a non-issue as the contact rods do a great job of keeping the mesh on-track throughout the bending process.
Version 5.2 contains a dozen or so other small improvements that make the machine more compact, lighter weight, and easier to adjust and use. The prototype has performed great in the shop – now it’s time to hand it over to local solar installers to put some miles on it at real job sites. After gathering feedback and making any design tweaks, we’ll produce a dozen or so machines to send out to installers for free demo use. Reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in a demo!
Slick Tools at SPI 2020
Come try the AG Bender yourself at booth 3857 at the Solar Power International trade show (also known as North America Smart Energy Week) in Las Vegas, October 21-22, 2020. In addition to showing off the Bender, we’ll have several popular types of animal guard mocked up for visitors to check out and compare. Not sure what to make of the various animal guard products on the market? Skip the marketing hype and come see and feel the difference yourself! We will of course be practicing strict COVID safety protocol at our booth. Hope to see you there!
Founder, Slick Tools LLC