We see a lot of simple pen plotter projects out there; and while we appreciate them one and all, most of them are a little on the slow side. That’s OK — a glacial pace is sometimes all that’s needed, as long as it gets the job done. But there’s nothing wrong with putting the pedal to the metal, so to speak. And that’s exactly what this super-fast Arduino-based plotter is all about.
As the story goes, IV Projects felt the need for speed after building an earlier pen plotter project that worked; but failed to excite. With the additional goal of keeping the plotter easy to build with cheap parts, the design centers on a “grit roller drive” for the Y-axis — the one that actually moves the paper back and forth. And move it does, using Dremel tool sanding drums on a lightweight shaft to maximize acceleration. In fact, all the moving parts are kept as lightweight as possible, and the results really show — the three steppers really sing when this plotter is in action.
There are some really clever details in IV Projects’ design. We particularly like the way the pen lift mechanism works, and the surprise appearance of a clothespin spring as a belt tensioner was a real treat. Judging by the pile of rejected prototype parts, it took quite a bit of work to get this design right. If you’d like to build your own, STLs are available for the printed parts.
If you’re interested in what the other end of the speed scale looks like, check out this bare-minimum pen plotter.