Bend File Printer
Bend File Printer is a simple tool I started writing back in 2006 to help my company with producing efficient cable designs. To learn more about the history of the program, take a look at Bend File Printer History. You can download a presentation of this program in PDF format from Here (840Kb). Some portions of this code also appear in FlexIO.
What Is Bend File Printer?
Bend File Printer is a small tool I wrote to assist me with cable design & manufacturing at work. It started off as a very small and simple application, and over the years has evolved into a very useful & innovative engineering tool (see Here for some history on the program). The tool will analyze BND / DAT / FLX files and report any problems, issues or warnings. It also produces a printable report detailing the entire cable design including connector & cut length information, which is then attached to cable work orders before they hit the production floor. The tool has saved many hours of un-necessary work, as well as saving thousands of feet of waste cable by being able to detect major issues before a single piece is even cut. Engineers can correct the most common cable design errors at their desk, without having to worry about running into an issue after the cable has been cut and partially built!
The application makes use of several databases to retrieve the information it needs. These databases are continually updated as needed to keep the program up to date.
The application was originally intended for my own personal use, but as more people saw and used it at the job, it quickly became something much more powerful. I hope one day to be license it to other people for use.
Here is a small handfull of features that are present in the program:
- Program uses shared BenderLib V3 Project, to maximize on the amount of shared code between itself & FlexIO. As new features are added to the library, they are automatically made available.
- Fully intuitive GUI makes navigating around the program and it’s preferences very simple.
- Support for BND & DAT files, in both new and old formats. Conversion from BND to DAT for editing is also supported.
- Automatic line ending conversion, so the file doesn’t have to have to be saved in Windows or Unix format in order to work, it will just convert as needed.
- Automatic data conversion between Inches & Millimetres. Display reports in your preferred format.
- Report files generated by the program are created in both HTML and Plain Text, so they can be attached to emails etc. Simple naming convention allows for easy location of these files in your specified directories.
- Loaded files are ran through more than 10 different integrity checks, ranging from whether connectors will fit onto the cable, to mangled bend angles, compounded bending and more. All errors and warnings appear in the printed report so they can be evaluated by an engineer.
- Program supports Min/Max bender carriage length, and will warn you if your cable design is too long to be built on your CNC bender. This will avoid you having to experience a carriage crash by learning the hard way.
- Program makes use of a comment database system, which can be applied on a per-revision basis, allowing you to leave messages, special work instructions and more which will appear on the printed report. These instructions can then be seen by the appropriate departments that need them. BendFilePrinter has an easy to use window to add comments to an already-loaded file.
- When analyzing new BND/DAT files for errors and problems, you can select individual files to check, or entire directories of files which are then put into a table, detailing which of the files contained errors etc.
- Cable reports can display real measured segments for first/last segments, depending on the angles. What you see on the page, is what you should get with your ruler.
- All database and preference files use a plain-text format, so they can be changed outside of the program without any problems.
Features Currently In Development
The program is constantly under development, here are but a few of the features that are currently being implemented, undergoing testing, waiting for some code, or have been completed:
- Improved BND Comparison – Compare two BND files side by side and display their differences in a report file that can be printed.
- LRA Conversion from BND Coordinates – Convert the XYZ tables within a BND file directly to Length/Angle/Rotation values, without having to rely on the CableAdvisor to do the conversion for you. This will increase all accuracy to 6 decimal points (from 2 in the CableAdvisor). I’d also like to add conversion from other formats, such as Eaton Leonard and Pipe Data from tools such as Pro Engineer.
- Direct STEP/IGES Calculation – Import a STEP/IGES model of a piece of a cable design, and convert it directly to LRA values, or XYZ points. This will make modelling of 3rd party cables a snap.
- Real-Time Cable Preview – See a preview of the designed shape in 3D before it’s bent. Tweak your angles and rotations in realtime!
Bend File Printer Screenshots
Got Additional Questions?
If you have any additional questions about this, or any of my programs, feel free to contact me via email at fishguy8765 [at] gmail.com or use the comments section of this page. Thanks!