From Printer To Vinyl Cutter

Some might look at a cheap inkjet printer and see a clunky device that costs more to replace the ink than to buy a new one. [Abhishek Verma] saw an old inkjet printer and instead saw a smooth gantry and feed mechanism, the perfect platform to build his own DIY vinyl cutter.

The printer was carefully disassembled. The feed mechanism was reworked to be driven by a stepper motor with some 3D printed adapter plates. A solenoid-based push/pull mechanism for the cutting blade was added with a 3D printed housing along with a relay module. An Arduino Uno takes in commands from a computer with the help of a CNC GRBL shield.

What we love about this build is the ingenuity and reuse of parts inside the old printer. For example, the old PCB was cut and connectors were re-used. From the outside, it’s hard to believe that HP didn’t manufacture this as a vinyl cutter.

If you don’t have a printer on hand, you can always use your CNC as a vinyl cutter. But if you don’t have a CNC, [Abhishek] shares all the STL files for his cutter as well as the schematic. Video after the break.

14 thoughts on “From Printer To Vinyl Cutter

      1. Except if i didn’t get it right, he was taking about hardware, not software per say.

        Like for you Apple devices, good luck trying replacing the home button or the camera on newer models. They put a DRM into them.

        1. That’s not DRM.
          The home button is an integral part of the security as it’s got the fingerprint reader. Otherwise you could swap home buttons and log into someone else’s iPhone.

    1. Not just Cricut, but one day when loading up my Silhouette Studio software it put up a dialog saying I _had_ to upgrade it. I was forced to do that before I could run it.

    2. Thanks for the link, even if it seems a bit dormant right now. Easier to maintain a low profile, Provo Craft (Cricut) is lawsuit-happy. There’s almost nothing online about the current generation of machines (explore and newer) because they sued people who cracked the encryption on the earlier ones into oblivion. Tbh if they pull that again, though, I’m about as likely to perform a brain transplant like this article as to reverse their protocol. A 3d printer driver board is cheap and there’s lots of gcode driven firmware (which is what I foolishly assumed was in the Cricut when I got it at a bargain price)

  1. I had a hope that someone managed how to precisely control those dc motors in such mechanisms, but there are stepper motors inside. It would be great and dirt-cheap/free pretty powerful linear actuators.

    1. Stepper motors are basically BLDCs designed for relatively low speeds. About the only advantage of using a conventional BLDC and a reduction gearset is more torque for the size, generally not needed for a consumer printer.

    2. Printers just work differently from CNC machines. Instead of controlling the head’s position, they are happy to just let it run and measure its position (very) accurately, and jet out ink at the right moment.

      That said, I’ve always wanted to play around with making a (relative position) servo out of printer guts. Would be cool. Has anyone done this? I would suspect a 3D printer hacker.

    1. This really is a hack but I don´t hink it lasts more than just a few “cuts”.
      Cricut is a nice device, but their subscription based “Cricut Access” seems a bit… greedy to me.

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