Old pen plotter converted to vinyl cutter

vinyle cutting plotter

Vinyl cutters can be very expensive, so [vinyl hacker] decided to share with us the alternate route some people have taken. Here is what you need to get started: An old HP pen plotter with a serial connection. A compatible serial cable. A blade holder (Roland blade holders don’t fit). Some Roland vinyl blades. Cutting software like SignGo of DAHEDIsign. Vinyl (found in sign shop dumpsters). The main resource for these plotter/cutters seems to be luberth.com. It’s hard to navigate, but all of the info you need should be there. Now you can cut stickers, stencils, small signs for very little money.

42 thoughts on “Old pen plotter converted to vinyl cutter

  1. I love how this works, and the dragon on my car is proof. I didn’t do this, but a friend used an old pen plotter for it.

    –KurtRoedeger

  2. Old pen plotters are probably being dumped all the time from engineering companies and schools. They’re cool to play with because they usually have a serial or parallel port interface with a simple protocol (like HPGL).

  3. this is very awesome. i was just helping a buddy in a design class try to make some decals and was thinking about how hard it would be to do this very thing

  4. it bruises the ego knowing that such an obvious mod never occurred to me… But it’s a downright kick to the stomach knowing I’m responsible for tossing more than 40 “obsolete” plotters that would have been perfect for this mod into the dumpster about 6 weeks ago…

  5. I guess somebody’s beat me to it, but I’m working on a vinyl cutter myself using an old broken dot matrix printer as the body.

    has anybody thought about using a flatbed scanner? i just opened one up and it has a very nice long toothed belt pulley and carriage. you’d just need to build a pinch roller to move the vinyl sheets.

  6. Captain Obvious, where all do you think these “obsolete” plotters would be likely obtained, not nessisarily those specific ones, but in general.

  7. With regards to which software to use. I did this many years ago. Any CAD software that cut run a ploter, IE: AutoCAD, can be used as well.

  8. I’ve been looking for an old pen plotter to make these scratch holograms:

    http://www.amasci.com/amateur/holo1.html

    You can make a fair approximation with a compass and a scribe tip, but in the derivation, the author of the above site notes that the ideal shape of the curves would be a parabola.

    P.S. This site is so 31337 for forcing my text all to low3rc4se!!!!!!11one It makes me look uber-lit3rate!

  9. Does anyone know where to purchase the knife holders from? The guy who owns the website seems to be out of the ones he usually carries. I have had no lucking finding them elsewhere.

  10. Several people have tried making scratch-holos with various plotters. They fail because the scratch must be perfectly straight at the millimeter level, and mirror smooth. The jaggies from the stepper motors are far worse than “needle chatter” which normally ruins the scratches. Or another way to say it: if we were trying to record some sound on a wax master of a vinyl record, normal music is the “needle chatter” which optically ruins the mirror smooth record grooves. And stepper motor steps are far worse. The challange with motorized-writing of scratch holograms is to make a “vinyl record” with no audible sound recorded in the grooves! This should be possible, but you’ll have to use a smoothly rotating arm, and probably need some sort of vibration damping so the arm travels silently.

  11. carpespasm- I work for a large company in New Orleans… Everything 5ft and below was destroyed and had to be trashed, the plotters were up on desks and salvaged. However, when the insurance settlement came thru it showed the plotters on the claim sheet. The co has several facilities utterly wiped out all over the gulf coast, so the insurance company decided it would cost them more to do all the req’d paperwork necessary to have the claim changed and get a refund from us, so they said not to sweat it. That being said, the CEO concluded that they had to be disposed of for SOX-compliance reasons…

  12. I love this. Where did you get your old plotter? I have been trying to find an old flatbed plotter to no avail. Any help on this front really appreciated.

  13. I got an old HP7475A plotter running fine with AutoCad. But is there anyway to control the knife up/down without buying a signmaking program? Thanks.

  14. I work in a sign shop. Plotters are expensive. working on using a HP 7576A 40″ plotter. use a mimaki or gerber envision blade (will need extra weight)(pressure is usually 130-180 grams. using autocad to cut (also have old casmate with modified cutter driver…if interested on process…leave email in comments..i’ll contact.

  15. I downloaded the free demo from DahediSign. Works fine – I’m just used to working with AutoCad. I’ll be making a toolholder for exacto-type blades tomorrow. Do you think the blades will work? If not, I’ll stick with the carbide cutter I made last week. Just a little inconvenient to make – and I haven’t perfected the design yet. Let me know what you think. Thanks!

  16. PLOTOTECH INDUSTRIES
    Manufacturers of : Plotter cutting Accessories and All kinds of alloy and metal parts.
    348/9,G.I.D.C., Shanker Tekri Udhyognagar, JAMNAGAR – 361004. Phone: (O) (0288)2563214, ® (0288) 2563279 / 2568749. Cal: 09375395552 http://www.jayashapurabrass.com/

    Dear Sir,

    We manufacture Plotter Cutting Machine’s accessories like Blades, Rollers, Grit, Holders, etc.

    The Plotter Cutting Machines are used for cutting various papers such as vinyl, velvet, sticker papers etc. The machine works like a computer printer. The Printer prints on the paper and The Plotter cuts the paper.This machine is attached to a computer and is functioned by the computer. There are special programs for this function. There is a part called “Holder” attached. Inside the Holder there is a “Blade”. The function of the blade is to cut the respective paper in shapes or sizes as given in computer. One can cut any shape or design as desired with the help of the computer.
    These machines are used for cutting bindis, stickers, tattoos, etc.

    There are various companies who manufacture these Plotter Cutting Machines. Some of them are GRAPHTECH, ROLLAND, SUMA, etc. None of these machines are manufactured in India. Every company has its own design of machine but it functions the same way. Every company has its own design of accessories like blades, holders etc.
    For Example:- Graphtech blade cannot be used in Rolland machines. Same way Rolland blades cannot be used in Graphtech machines.

    We manufacture the following items :
    • Graphtech Blade
    • GCC Blade
    • Rolland Blade
    • Suma Blade
    • Suma Blade with Brass Cap
    • Roller 16mm (Rubber)
    • Rod/Grit 13mm O.D. 749mm length (S.S.)
    • Graphtech Holder
    • Rolland Holder
    • Pen Holder

    Plototech Industries

    Vijay .T.Amrania

  17. Dear Sir,

    We require 100,000 fts. of white radium. Please quote
    your best rates for the same. Also, furnish other
    terms and conditions. The rates should be FOB Kandla
    Port (India).
    Your prompt reply will be highly appreciated.

    Regards,
    vijay

    Re; inquiry for radium vinyl

  18. Hey guys, I have to share this. At least I am german, but I try my best to translate this requirement from our Website lately. By the way: Our only and significant service is to connect supplier and demander. there we got the focus on.

    Dear sir or madam,
    in searching the Internet for a plotter, I found your Website. Because it’s impossible to find the onlineshop, I decided to write my requirement via email. I hope, you can deliver the HP Designjet 1055CM Plus to the upper adress. If not, leave it be.

    he came in right here : http://www.kaeuferportal.de/plotter-kaufberatung/plotter-165 . over 10.000€, but the even if he’d bought the plotter via us, I#d like to kick his *** – sillyness should be punished. greetz.
    anonymoused sentenz ;)

  19. I made one out of a Houston Instrument plotter 10 years ago before they mass produced cutters. I used a Roland plastic holder and a Roland cutter blade. An exacto knife will not work because the blade needs to rotate 360 degrees. The blade is an offset so it follows like a cariage wheel on a shopping cart. You can buy a replacement Roland blade holder that is made to fit in the HP pen holders perfectly. It may bean old style unti. Then the cutter drops right in.

    You can get adapter holder brand new. I am not sure if it is for a HP or Houston Instruments.
    HI is out of business but someone bought them out and sells the parts still. It is made just for converting to a vinyl cutter.

    If you can’t get that holder you can make one that holds a Roland cutter holder. They are the best to use because the blades are cheap and they rotate.

    Here is one of the holders.

    http://www.beacongraphics.com/supplies/cutter-parts-roland.html

    These are for machine using a thin mount.
    They make another holder that has a fatter center where it snaps into place. Not sure if it is for the Hp or not. It depends on the pen holder you have now.

    I am selling a Houston Instrument DMP61 plottter/cutter for $100. It is already converted with a special piece I had made in a machine shop. Not sure if it still works or not. I had a problem with the software. It comes with Autocad and a sign cutting program. Was used as a cutter or can be used for parts to make a flat bed laser.
    It had new heavy duty servos put in it. Uses HPGL chips.

    here are some videos

    http://hackedgadgets.com/2008/07/21/diy-xy-plotter/

  20. Hey. I just needed to give you thanks since you shared your personal thoughts with this site. After reading your site, I was wondering if you could share some of your thoughts about those latest world-wide natural disasters. Appreciate it.

  21. Have an HP draftpro Plus and converting it to a vinyl cutter.

    Need to secure the cutter to prevent wobble

    How can I stop the plotter automatically trying to deposit and collect the cutter from the carousel

    Would appreciate any assistance

  22. I have a couple 36″ wide HP pen plotters if anyone is interested. I have used one of them to cut vinyl in the past and it does wrok as long as you buy the blade holder to fit the hp plotter.

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