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.

3D printer to plotter - anet et4x 3d printer

Anet ET4X 3D printer is writing paragraphs like a pen (designed by Andrew Sink).

 

Things need for 3D printer to plotter modification

 

  1. Anet ET4X 3D printer
  2. A pen
  3. 3D printed pen holder
  4. 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

  1. M3*40 bolt *2pcs
  2. M3 locking nut *2pcs
  3. M3*10 flathead screw *3pcs
  4. M4*10 mushroom cap screw *3pcs
  5. Springs *2pcs
  6. Printed pen holder parts

Step 1, remove the extruder kit from the ET4X 3D printer and unplug the wirings.

3d printer to plotter - hot end removal 3d printer to plotter - unplug wiring

Step 2, assemble and install the printed pen holder onto the print head.

3d printer to plotter - pen holder assembly 3d printer to plotter - pen holder assembly

Step 3, insert a pen into the holder and screw it tight.

3d printer to plotter - pen holder installation

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:

Step-by-step Tutorial of Manual Bed Leveling for A8 Plus 3D Printer

 

And for the leveling of Anet ET4 and ET5 3D printers with capacitive leveling sensor, could refer to the following tutorial:

How to Best Tune Bed Leveling on Anet ET5 3D printer

 

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.

 

Step 1

Visit inkscape.org and download and install Inkscape into your computer. Don’t forget to choose the right version for your computer.

3d printer to plotter - Inkscape installation

 

Step 2

Load image into Inkscape, and then click on “Path” and select “Trace Bitmap”.

3d printer to plotter - convert image to SVG

Step 3

Click on “Update” and then click on the image.

 3d printer to plotter - convert image to SVG file

Step 4

Click on “OK” and then move the image.

3d printer to plotter - convert image to SVG file

Step 5

Now we get a vector graphic of the image.

 

Step 6

Click on the original image and delete it.

 

Step 7

Click on “File” and select “Save As” to save the vector graphic as SVG file.

3d printer to plotter - convert image to SVG file

Convert the SVG file into STL file with TinkerCAD

 

Now let’s turn the SVG file into STL file with TinkerCAD.

 

Step 1

Import the previous saved SVG file into TinkerCAD.

 

Step 2

Resize the image to 220*220mm (which fits the ET4X 3D printer) and set the height to 0.2mm.

 

Step 3

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.

 

Step 1

Cut a paper to the size of the printer bed and clip it tight onto the bed.

 

Step 2

Insert the TF card with the g-code file into the printer.

 

Step 3

Select the file and print it.

3d printer to plotter modification

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!

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