Junk Build Printer Uses Pencil To Print

Sometimes, it is interesting to see what you can build from the bits that you have in your junk drawer. [Dr West] decided to build a printer with spare parts including a hard drive, a scanner base and an Arduino. The result is a rather cool printer that prints out the image using a pencil, tapping the image out one dot at a time. The software converts the image into an array, with 0 representing white and 1 representing black. The printer itself works a bit like an old-school CRT TV: the scanner array moves the printer along a horizontal line, then moves it vertically and along another horizontal line. It then triggers the hard drive actuator to create a mark on the paper if there is a 1 in the array at that point.

We’ve seen a few drawing printers before, but most use a plotter or CNC approach, where the motors move the pencil on an X-Y . This type of dot matrix printer (sometimes called a dotter) isn’t as efficient, but it’s a lot of fun and shows what can be achieved with  a few bits of junk and a some ingenuity.

18 thoughts on “Junk Build Printer Uses Pencil To Print

      1. Damn that’s cool! What a huge-ass CNC machine. I really like the design of the print head, complete with a sharpied-on dial to determine tool depth or whatever you want to call it. Nicely done!

    1. I’m impressed that it doesn’t quickly pulverize the graphite or snap it off. There had to be a lot of experimentation with depth stop before it worked well. I wonder how many pencils it tore through.

      I wonder if it automatically compensates for the pencil shortening. Seems like a half a millimeter or so would screw up everything.

      1. Heh I didn’t experiment at all… I literally broke a pencil in half and zip tied it on at what looked like a good spot. It doesn’t smack as hard as it looks / sounds, and it prints just fine without compensating for anything :) It does go dull half way through a print though lol

    1. I actually didn’t bother with micro-stepping on this one because the full steps are pretty darn close to the size of the pencil tip :) Might get me faster stepping speed though… Maybe I’ll try it some time

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