3 Axis Plotter Made from Spare Parts

The plotter featured above was, according to the author, made almost entirely of salvaged parts. In addition to what he had accumulated, only $20 in parts was needed to complete this build. Pretty good considering the thousands of dollars that a new plotter goes for.

Control of all axes is accomplished using unipolar stepper motors.  In this case only one unipolar motor was available along with two bipolar motors. [Lovro] actually hacked these into a unipolar setup to save costs on the build.

Mach3 control software along with a parallel port is used to control the steppers. A similar “junk” setup could be used to power a CNC mill or laser engraver, so think twice before tossing that old printer in the trash!  Check out the video of this plotter in action after the break! Also, see this hack for a similar laser engraving machine using Mach3 control software.

Comments

  1. svofski says:

    Very nice pen holder/actuator!

  2. fco says:
  3. Justin says:

    Thousands of dollars for new plotters? Do they even make them anymore? Used ones can be found for less than $100.

  4. Mike says:

    Excellent design. You should offer closeup pictures and greater detail on how the hardware was put together. Pics of how the different pieces fit.

  5. James says:

    @justin – think they’re still fairly common in large engineering drawing applications.

  6. Nardella says:

    As with most plotter videos, this one was worth watching.

  7. Bill says:

    I haven’t seen a plotter used for engineering drawings in years. Instead, they use large ink jet printers that look very much like the plotters they replaced.

  8. Nice bit of creative WEEE recycling.

  9. stupid939 says:

    I wish he gave us some specs on the driver he is using and if the price of it factors into the $20. Nice machine though!

  10. James says:

    @Bill – yep, some do, some don’t.

    I still know of some places that use a plotter and pens to draw PCB traces for etching :)

  11. Lovro says:

    I was thinking about PCB etching, this would be simplest and fastest etching, just draw layout picture on PCB and throw it to acid!

  12. James says:

    When I was at highschool, back in the early 90s, thats exactly how it was done :)

  13. Ben Wright says:

    I have worked and visited at several mechanical design and engineering firms and I haven’t seen an old school plotter since the early 80’s. The zerox large format lazer printers spit out sheets 30×42 at less than 45 seconds each. The large format inkjet printer are a bit slower. Not as slow as that ploter – but slower. I would turn it into an engraving machine.

  14. Joshua says:

    I was just starting to scrounge up parts for something like this. I am going to copy your z axis :)

  15. Unclegummers says:

    Wow. I recently failed at this project on my own. Cannot wait for your instructions.

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