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.

17 thoughts on “Junk Build Printer Uses Pencil To Print

    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

    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!

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