A4 Pen Plotter

by JuanGg, published

A4 Pen Plotter by JuanGg Aug 28, 2017


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13749Views 1047Downloads Found in Robotics


This is a pen plotter capable of printing on A4 paper sheets. It is intended to be similar to the Aritma Amagraph pen plotter, be as compact and robust as posible as well as reliable.
It is controlled by means of an arduino with a grbl shield, wich drives the x and y motors, and the solenoid used for lifting-lowering the pen in response to g-code generated in inkscape and sent through grbl controller. Scroll down for a gif of it working.

Print Settings


P3 Steel


0.3 mm




Depending on your printer, some holes may be drilled to make bolts fit. Big tolerances are used, so no sanding is required.

How I Designed This

First, the overall idea was drawn on paper.

Then, it was designed on the computer using FreeCAD, and after four versions and some trial and error, the final design was completed.Some features were added after the build like some holes for wiring and so on.


1) 3d printed parts (All files starting with "Print"):

Print one of each (ending in x1) or two (ending in x2). One needs to be mirrored as specified in its name.

2) Non 3d printed parts:

a)Metal profiles:
Stls included for dimensions. Material specified in their name.
In addition, two 6mm ID 30 mm long 0,5 mm thickness brass tubes are needed to act as
bearings between x carriage and the steel shafts.

b)Screws (and their nuts):
1 M4x20 mm
1 M4x40 mm
15 M3x12 mm
4 M3x30 mm
10 M2,5x8mm
8 2x10 wood screws
2 M4 wing nuts (optional)

1 Arduino UNO
1 arduino CNC shield (with drivers)
Mosfet circuit to drive the solenoid using the spindle pin(example included)
1 Enstop
1Power switc
1 Jack conector
1Red LED
1 470 Ohm resistor
Asorted wires
USB cable
A computer to generate and send the g-code to the plotter.

d) Actuators:
2 NEMA 17 x 35 mm stepper motors.
1 Spring loaded 12v solenoid (mine was from an old printer, use the one you have and glue
it in place.

e) Misc:
Paper rollers from an old printer (you can print them yourself)
Sand paper to glue on the 12mm alumninum tube to grip the paper
4 Ball bearings 4mmID 13mmOD 5mm thickness
Heatsrink tubing
Cable ties
6mm wide Belt and pulley
6 x 12 mm spring

And the compulsory one: Some free time.


I am currently working on them. For now, try to follow the pictures. Ask me any doubt or question you have.


In fact, it is a gif. Sorry for low quality, but it is enough to see it working. In real life it is a lot smoother. The two post-its wich appear in the video hep to print close to the end of the paper without problems.

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Great design! I would be very thankful if you could upload or send me the step files

Would this work with Makelangelo software?

I am not familiar with that software, but it will work as long as it can generate g-code that can be understood by grbl. Or you could even use another board, or different firmware.

just start bilding this ploter. and will make it better. all those rods are difrent in diametar. why? and will pen up/down proces connect to servo motor, instead this solenoid. and will switch all motor to one side, so next project will make bigger/longer ploter easy proces.
Ploter is quit nice and compact. nice job JuanGg!:)

I don't know which rods are you talking about. They have the dimendions they have becouse that was what I happened to have around. Everything is like it is for a reason, a servo may seem easier to control (it is not, really, a solenoid can be driven using the spindle enable on pretty much any version of grbl) but will be much slower in operation and wear out much faster. Stepers are placed on different sides for space isues and to allow more air to flow around them, not concentrating heat on one spot (they do get hot, even in this light duty aplication). Having said that, I encourage you to make any changes you wish, and please make sure you publish them.

That's really nice design. Could you show us how you made it work with grbl and inkscape?

Un fortunately, I don't have much time as I am studying the whole year in another country, so I don´t have my 3d printer, neither the plotter. However, I will try to make some instructions. I use j tech photonics laser tool plug in for inkscape.

any update on the video of this working?

If you scroll down in the details page, you will find a gif of it working

Me gustaría imprimir las piezas para armar uno en una escuela técnica de Argentina.
Ademas de los dos Nema 17, lleva algun componente que sea complicado de conseguir? La electrónica es arduino, los chicos la conocen. Pero no se si tendremos acceso al resto de las varillas y demás.

Me alegro de que os sirva este proyecto. Hay una lista de materiales no impresos ( tornillos, varillas...) en las instrucciones, de todas formas, aunque esta diseñado para esas formas y materiales, no creo que hubiera ningún problema en usar varillas de latón o perfiles de madera, por ejemplo. Todo se puede conseguir en una tienda de bricolaje o en internet y si no, se podría hacer alguna " chapucilla" y adaptarlo. Espero ver alguna foto del proyecto completo. Suerte !

Excelente trabajo.Felicitaciones!

Muchas gracias!!

i'll be one of those looking to remix this! maybe make some end caps and definitely a size increase. definitely a great design, dont suppose you have a video of it working?

I am eager to see your future remixes. In the beginning, caps were intended, but I left it uncovered for heat disipation (stepppers and drivers can get warm) and for everyone to see the innner mechanism. Increasing widh is pretty straightfoward, just increase the length of all alu and steel profiles. Perhaps the alu 15 x 2 mm profile should be reiforced in large widths for it not to flex. I will upload a video or a gif of it working as soon as I can.

Awesome! I just found my next project.

I am looking foward to see some photos of your build. I will post assembling instructios as well as how to use inkscape for g-code generation as soon as I can.

Love the design. Expect some remixes for things such as working width as well as conversion from pen to inkjet print head not to mention different media types... think pcb media with Sharpie "etch resist" pens.

If you are willing to post them, the freecad files would be appreciated.

Thank you for the interest. If you wish, you can try that remixes yourself. In the very beginning, this was intended as a inkjet printer, but I wanted to make something simpler as a start. For now, I am not going to upload FreeCAD files, but I can post Step files of the parts instead.

I have become adept at converting STL files to something I can work with in the the couple/three 3d design programs I use. Thank you for the design.