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.

15 thoughts on “3 Axis Plotter Made from Spare Parts

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

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

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. @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 :)

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

  7. 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.

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