Design of the Week: 3D Printed Pen Plotter

By on June 1st, 2020 in Design

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The d.i.d 3D printed Pen Plotter [Source: Thingiverse]

This week’s selection is the 3D printed “d.i.d” Pen Plotter by design studio Ufficio Progetti Perduti.

Italy-based Ufficio Progetti Perduti is a new design studio, and as such they don’t have many products yet available. They seem to dabble in electro-mechanical projects, having designs and built a clone of the Prusa Mini 3D printer, something they call the “Nocturna”.

But one of their other products is a 3D printed Pen Plotter, known as the “d.i.d”, which stands for “deep ink diver”. This is a computer-controlled device that can “write” anything you’d like on flat surfaces, typically paper or cardboard. It’s designed to work best with vector-based graphics, as that’s really what the pen can do: draw vectors.

They explain the philosophy behind the design:

“From a precise pen made for technical drawing, to big markers used for graffiti; the way printing is perceived on paper is not bound anymore to the restrictions of a cartridge. The material on which it is printed now also has a role by himself: the roughness of the paper is not hidden by the inkjet but emphasized by the pen that physically touches the paper and travels on it.”

Using the device produces drawings that Ufficio Progetti Perduti says can be more “vivid”.

Parts for building the d.i.d 3D printed Pen Plotter [Source: Thingiverse]

I don’t doubt that, but it is a project to build this open source device. You’ll need quite a few items in addition to the 3D printed parts, including an Arduino controller, stepper motors, power adapter, a number of aluminum extrusions and bolts, connectors and wiring. All the details are listed in the project’s Thingiverse page.

As this is a computer-controlled device, there is software involved. The project team chose to use Grbl, an open source high-performance GCODE processor designed for use with CNC systems. The Pen Plotter is essentially a 2D CNC machine, except that instead of a milling head it will have a standard pen. Thus the firmware is quite applicable.

There’s around twelve 3D printed parts, including a set of rollers added after the initial release to assist in holding the paper stable during pen operations. They appear to be straightforward to 3D print, and therefore the major activity in this project will certainly be assembly and testing of the device.

One of the most interesting aspects of this project is the creativity of others to extend the functionality. In the Thingiverse comments there’s evidence of interest in adding these features:

  • Transforming it into a vinyl cutter
  • Making it self contained by adding a Raspberry Pi controller and touch screen
  • Adding an input paper roll for extended “writing”
  • Etching PCBs

And more.

If you’re looking for an interesting and extendable 3D print project that results in a functional device, the d.i.d 3D printed Pen Plotter may be just what you need.

Via Thingiverse and Ufficio Progetti Perduti

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!