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How to make an Open Source Vertical Plotter

How to make an Open Source Vertical Plotter



The vertical plotter is a kind of printer that is very much appreciated by professionals, since it does not print but draws by means of pens, and exactly in the same way a person would do with his hand; it allows to draw diagrams and sketches of various kind and with the maximum resolution, since it composes texts and images with a continuous line (and not with a dot matrix, as the impact, laser and inkjet printers do).

Today Boris Landoni @ Openelectronics would like to propose you a low cost version, that has been made inexpensive by the availability of cheap stepper motors and of an open source controller board, that in our case is the same used for our 3Drag 3D printer (even though it was provided with a modified version of the original firmware); the chassis is left to your personal preferences, so you may create it as you see fit: it could be obtained by attaching the two motors to a wood frame even, and by connecting the print head with a toothed belt and by providing the whole with counterweights.

The whole project is an open source one, and the version we created and proposed in these pages is just a personalization of the original idea. Even the firmware is an open source one and the software to be run on the PC (needed in order to command the plotter) may be freely used.


But let’s proceed in an orderly fashion, by spending a few words on the subject of the mechanical structure, that is essentially composed by a chassis frame, that we created with aluminium extrusions with a square section (side: 27.5 mm); the whole frame is 74.5 x 64.5 cm big, with the sides embossed on the superior side, with a height of 64 cm and ending with specific plastic “caps”. Each horizontal extrusion is 69 cm long, and to the side the vertical extrusions are fixed by means of angular screws; therefore it turns out that the total width is 2×27.5mm+690mm, that is to say they are exactly the aforementioned 74.5 cm.


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