[Mr Innovative] decided to make his version of a small pen plotter (video after the break) to make labels on masking tape. The result is an impressive compact machine that is remotely controlled using your smartphone. The plotter is constructed using several different techniques, a piece of plywood as the base, a 3D printed bracket for the motors and pen carriage, and a routed acrylic plate that holds the lead screw and linear rail assembly. The whole thing is controlled by an Arduino Nano mounted on a custom motor driver carrier board.
The inspiration for this build came from a project by [michimartini] aka [Molten Cheese Bear] that we covered a few months ago. [Mr Innovative] went for belt vs direct drive and no local screen. It also appears to plot a little bit faster, but that might be due to differences in the ink pens used. An Android app called TextToCNC converts label text into G-Code, and the Grbl Controller app sends those commands to the plotter.
We like continued iterations of open source projects and look forward to seeing what the next generations look like. Thanks to [keithfromcanada] for submitting this tip.
19 thoughts on “Masking Tape Pen Plotter Gets An Upgrade”
Very cool! The only issue i see is that masking tape generally not made for sticking too long due to its primary use case. Putting some other tape (e.g. white Duct Tape) on would be pretty cool though
Nah mate, just put a wide strip of scotch tape on top to protect the writing on the masking tape below.
The good ones do not degrade much if not exposed to much sunlight.
I have 15-yr old blue painter’s tape on a whole ton of boxes of electrical parts. It hasn’t come off, if that’s your concern.
My usual fear about masking tape is that it gets crusty over time, more than it falls off. And that’s a yucky mess to clean.
Neither masking tape nor duct tape will last long. The adhesive on both will dry out over time, creating the paradoxical state where some of the tape peels off, and some of the adhesive will be nearly impossible to remove.
I love this thing. I wonder how fast one could make that. Seems like it’s running in slow motion at the moment – but the quality is very nice.
The movement is really really smooth compared to a standard CNC. Makes it cool to watch and probably long-lasting, but slower than average
I often hand-write labels on white electrical tape, and am very tempted to replicate the project.
A really great build, and the video is so well produced! Seeing the whole thing controlled from a phone with app-store apps is very cool.
It wasn’t clear if the pen lifting mechanism was 3D printed or off the shelf though?
And does anyone have a link for the mini table saw? Aliexpress has a few, but I couldn’t find one that was drill-powered?
Yeah! That mini table saw really caught my attention as well,
I think Wolfcraft did a mini drill operated table saw decades ago, but I haven’t seen one recently.
Mini-saws that ran off an electric drill were popular after WWII,
IIRC, they were Known as mill saws.
next feature: auto tape-roll diameter measurement so he can auto-set the height of the pen.
Looks like there’s “up”, and down would be left to gravity. Awesome project.
I use a label printer, print my labels from a database, and each has a small QR code that gives extended information about the content designated by the label. Would not go back for any price.
With that same cheap label printer i print heat-shrink tube for labeling cables and connectors. Just perfect.
Partkeepr can do this – at least with barcodes, not sure about QR support.
Do you have details on your QR database +hardware set up? Looking to do something similar!
ok, why i must open pen and close it? why not automaticaly open and close?
second question qhy this machine not detect tape size?
Make this thing write with a sharpie or silver marker and able to handle gaffers tape and stagehands the world over will beat a path to your door!
I think, “hey Google, print label ‘xxxxx'” would be potentially great. Is there any support for that?
Labels are great but the main downside to making labels is the setup and input methods, in my opinion. Full keyboard and computer is nice but not typically where you are when you need a label
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