Plotter Churns Out Labels With Roll Of Tape

Like it or not, organizing your workspace from time to time is a necessary chore. Labels can go a long way towards taming the most unruly of benches, but writing them out by hand isn’t exactly ideal. Looking for something a bit neater, [sandy] built a simple pen plotter to write labels on a roll of tape.

Pen plotter writing on roll of masking tape

The plotter uses the usual 3D printer components like steppers, drivers, belts, and rails. The tape holder is printed with flexible arms for a tight grip, and a servo is used to raise and lower the pen while writing.

The custom control board includes an Arduino Nano clone and a pair of stepper drivers, and an optional Bluetooth module and can be configured for a variety of machine control applications. A pair of Android apps are used to generate and send the G-code from a phone to the GRBL firmware loaded on the Arduino.

This seems to fall in the category of “entry-level” custom automation tools which help to save some time and effort on repetitive tasks without blowing the budget. We would include the various component tape cutters we’ve seen in this category, as well as smart build platform for manual PCB assembly

24 thoughts on “Plotter Churns Out Labels With Roll Of Tape

  1. Again with the custom board to drive a couple of steppers. This is a solved problem. I get it that it’s much easier to design and fab a board these days (and vastly cheaper), but if there’s already a high volume solution to a problem, reinventing the wheel isn’t an excercise in hacking.

    Either grab a cheap RAMPS board or one of the UNO shields for laser engravers. They’re super inexpensive and easy to source.

    Spend your time on the cool part of the hack, not the mundane part.

  2. Dymo wants to know your location.

    Seriously though, this can be made very flexible: if you can write on a roll of something, a fully adjustable version of this would take it and maybe stop short of every full turn so you can peel the tape.

    1. I’ve had ok experience with the blue 3M painter’s tape. For labeling it is ok except the dark blue color doesn’t really show up well so you need to use a white paint marker or something instead of the ubiquitous black sharpie. Honestly though we got one of those electronic tape label makers on sale with 40% off coupon ages ago and for anything approaching permanent it is the best bet. Yeah it eats batteries and yeah it’s got proprietary and expensive-ish tape cartridges but even this can be found on sale occasionally. Good luck

    2. i usually use cloth ‘medical tape’. there’s a bunch of different varieties — some more cloth-y and some more plastic-y. most of them hold up pretty well over time, at least compared to the white/tan varieties of masking tape. and the thing i really like about them is that they’re relatively easy to tear in clean / square fashion. and most varieties have a nice bright white that sharpie shows up great against.

    3. Don’t search for masking tape. Search for “white artist tape” (or “artist white tape”). Made so the adhesive is acid free, removable, and doesn’t age badly (assuming you buy the real thing).

  3. The author seems to be youtu er Mr. Innovative who makes pretty cool but practically useless machines. Should one decide to build this, or any of his designs do not count on any help or clarification as I can’t recall him ever having answered a question.
    The design here is pretty cool but ofcourse not very practical, as it writes limited text one has to tear off. Another problem looms once the tape comes closer to its end as the text then will become more and more condensed.
    As I presume he just loads standard GRBL software in his arduino I don’t think there is correction for that. As said his designs are unique and tastefully executed…..but of no practical significance

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