Make a Plotter - Write & Draw with Anet ET4X 3D Printer
Modifying a 3D printer into a plotter is another interesting thing to try. With a few simple types, we can add a pen onto the Anet ET4X 3D printer. Now let’s proceed to get the printer to write, draw and plot.
Note: we credit below modification to the designer Andrew Sink.
Anet ET4X 3D printer is writing paragraphs like a pen (designed by Andrew Sink).
Things need for 3D printer to plotter modification
- Anet ET4X 3D printer
- A pen
- 3D printed pen holder
- Inkscape, Tinkercad and Cura
Install the pen onto the ET4X 3D printer
Before we install the pen onto the ET4X 3D printer, let’s prepare below components and print a pen holder first.
Components need for pen installation
- M3*40 bolt *2pcs
- M3 locking nut *2pcs
- M3*10 flathead screw *3pcs
- M4*10 mushroom cap screw *3pcs
- Springs *2pcs
- Printed pen holder parts
Step 1, remove the extruder kit from the ET4X 3D printer and unplug the wirings.
Step 2, assemble and install the printed pen holder onto the print head.
Step 3, insert a pen into the holder and screw it tight.
Level the print bed for the newly installed pen
The next thing is to level print bed for the newly installed pen. Usually, adjust the bed height at the four corners evenly. Also make sure it only allows inserting an A4 paper between the bed and pen tip, and when slides the paper, you can feel a tight friction but it won’t rip the paper.
The leveling is similar to the leveling with 3d printer extruder head. For the leveling of Anet A8 Plus could refer to the following blog:
And for the leveling of Anet ET4 and ET5 3D printers with capacitive leveling sensor, could refer to the following tutorial:
Two steps to convert images into STL files
After all the preparation procedures are done for plotter modification, we need two steps to convert images to STL files for the plotter to write or draw.
First, use Inkscape to turn images into SVG files; 2nd, use TinkerCAD to extend SVG files into STL files.
Let’s proceed to these two steps.
Convert images to SVG files with Inkscape
Inkscape is a kind of software for converting images into SVG files and removing image background.
Visit inkscape.org and download and install Inkscape into your computer. Don’t forget to choose the right version for your computer.
Load image into Inkscape, and then click on “Path” and select “Trace Bitmap”.
Click on “Update” and then click on the image.
Click on “OK” and then move the image.
Now we get a vector graphic of the image.
Click on the original image and delete it.
Click on “File” and select “Save As” to save the vector graphic as SVG file.
Convert the SVG file into STL file with TinkerCAD
Now let’s turn the SVG file into STL file with TinkerCAD.
Import the previous saved SVG file into TinkerCAD.
Resize the image to 220*220mm (which fits the ET4X 3D printer) and set the height to 0.2mm.
Export the file as stl file.
Convert the STL file to G-code file with Cura
Here comes the last step before we go into printing, or actually drawing the image with ET4X 3D printer.
Open the previous exported stl file in Cura and slice the file into 3D printable G-code file. Save and export the g-code file to proceed to the final step of drawing the image with a pen on the printer.
Draw the image out with Anet ET4X 3D printer
Now let’s copy the saved STL file into the TF card provided along with the ET4X 3D printer and go below steps to draw the image out on the printer.
Cut a paper to the size of the printer bed and clip it tight onto the bed.
Insert the TF card with the g-code file into the printer.
Select the file and print it.
Modified plotter from ET4X 3D printer can also write.
Now we’ve successfully modified the ET4X 3D printer into a plotter that can write and draw like a pen. These procedures also work on other models of Anet 3D printer. You can have a try now!