Giant Scale Printer

Giant Printer Print Head

This giant printer was originally constructed by [Komponent/LAB] in 2006 to print some large-format banners for a festival, but has recently been pulled out of storage and updated for the Venture Cup competition. The system received a few mechanical and software updates and was also mounted on tripods in order to make it fully portable.

Instead of using stepper motors and encoders to directly control the print head as in a typical printer, the entire print axis is turned vertically and the relative lengths of two belts are varied (along with the constant downward pull of gravity) to precisely control movement across the plane. The software uses HPGL plotter files and is able to scale them to fit the available printing area.

Although there are some issues with the print head wobbling due to the rapid accelerations, any printed imperfections appear to be difficult to notice from more than a few feet away. Precision could be further increased by tweaking the software to compensate for such unwanted movements.

Although we can imagine many different applications for such a printer such as architectural or street art, some fine tuning would definitely be required at very large scales and to compensate for wind, etc if done outdoors.

Here are some pictures of the build and there is a short video of it in action after the jump.

[via GeekPhysical]


  1. Robot says:

    Predated by I think? Is this by the same people?

  2. yetihehe says:

    For large outdoor paintings printhead could be equipped with accelerometer. It would give printer information about vibrations, with clever programming printer would be able to print when printhead would be near required position.

  3. yetihehe says:

    Now THIS: is one giant printer (from links in video embedded in this article.)

  4. notmyfault2000 says:

    @yetihehe: Now that is one big ass-printer.

  5. Mumfi says:

    Maybe adding a third and even a fourth belt? Offset from the other two. And increasing the tension somewhat. The printer would then be fixed, much steadier, and not dependent on the gravitational acceleration to move downwards. This should also make it possible to increase the speed.

  6. Hirudinea says:

    Needs colour.

  7. feedayeen says:

    Aha, finally, the perfect printer to use for making the etching resists. Now all I need is a swimming pool full of HCl and I can begin construction of the giant robots.

  8. jeditalian says:

    make it print solder so you can print some gigantic circuits

  9. Will says:

    This is a giant plotter, not a giant printer :P there is a difference.

  10. ladz says:

    This is brilliant!
    Been pondering for years how to do this, printing the side of a building. This solution is easy, cheap, and portable.

  11. noah vawter says:

    Remember kids! No demo video is complete without full-tilt techno kicking it off to convey excitement :)

    seriously though, the quality of this version does look higher than previous versions.

  12. madwelder says:

    It’s cool and it reminded me of something from a few years back: What about that dot matrix printer made with an RC car? I heard that the same fellows were working on a van…

    FYI: I used a crane that worked on a similar principal to the rig holding the print head that used two winch lines each run through a block on its own spar that came together at a hook. It was called a Burton.

  13. DivePeak says:

    I gotta start work again on my giant X-Y printer that has been languishing for years… Problem is that I suck at actually building things!

    What I’m also thinking, though, is a system like this in three dimensions – 4 poles, each with a cable attached to a platform that you can mount a camera on so you can fly it around in a big space.

  14. tjb says:

    @ DivePeak, That is how they do many of the camera shots at NFL and other sports games.

  15. tobias says:

    This is very good! I made one myself but with lines rather than cog belts. Cog belts are much better and can run much faster than mine. If you are interested:

    I guess that the first project I saw on this theme is the HECTOR:

  16. bunedoggle says:

    How does it print so accurately with so much wiggling?

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