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<<< V-Plotter         2D printer from 3D printer >>>

Turning a Zonestar 3D printer into a Plotter

The video about the Zonestar plotter


Get the printer at Gearbest.com
Have a look at the column Shopping Tips to get more special offers.

The printer ships with no filament, thus don't forget to order filament.

Simple version

Conversion of Zonestar 3D printer to a Plotter, simple pen holder
Figure 1:
For the simple version of my plotter made of a 3D printer, only a holder for a pen is needed. Four additional 3mm screws as well as the two screws from the front fan are needed besides the printed part. With the 3mm screws at the rings you can adapt the holder to various pen diameters. The pen must be able to move in vertical direction to draw reliably even on not so flat surfaces.
Conversion of Zonestar 3D printer to a Plotter, disassembling front fan
Figure 2:
The pen holder replaces the fan on the front side of the print head. I am using a plug with protection against reverse polarity so that I can remove the fan quickly.
Conversion of Zonestar 3D printer to a Plotter, Stopper nut
Figure 3:
With hotglue I have fixed a 10mm nut on the pen for two reasons:
The nut works as a stopper, preventing the pen from falling down and the additional weight keeps the pen on the surface while drawing lines.
Conversion of Zonestar 3D printer to a Plotter, spacer Z switch
Figure 4:
As you can see, the tip of the pen is clearly lower than the tip of the printer nozzle. That's why the end switch of the Z axis has to be triggered sooner than in printer mode. I have printed a couple of spacers to be able to adjust the new home position of the Z axis. Attach the spacer that fits best for your pen on the screw that triggers the end switch. Make sure that the tip of the pen hits the surface between two or three millimeters before the switch is triggered so that plotting even a rough surface works fine.

Version with automatich pen changer

Conversion of Zonestar 3D printer to a Plotter, automatic pen changer
Figure 5:
The second holder is designed to automatically pick up pencils.
Conversion of Zonestar 3D printer to a Plotter, Aluminium square tubes
Figure 6:
In my first version I was using aluminium square tubes with an edge length of 20mm - something I have always laying around in my workshop.
Conversion of Zonestar 3D printer to a Plotter, printed square tubes
Figure 7:
As seen later, printed square tubes work as well with only a minor loss of precision - as an advantage you can easily adapt them to the dimensions of nearly any pen. I had to trim the markers I am using to no more than 12cm to make them fit under the inactive pens that are parked at top of the plotter.
Conversion of Zonestar 3D printer to a Plotter, guidance square tubes
Figure 8:
The square tubes are guided by the new holder that can be adjusted through 4 screws to minimize backlash. Instead of the 10mm nut I am now using a printed part to prevent the square tubes from falling down.
Conversion of Zonestar 3D printer to a Plotter, parking of inactive pencils
Figure 9:
The subframe for the inactive pencils is mounted on top of the printer - to do so, I had to replace 4 screws by longer ones screwed in the other way round. Up to 4 markers can be parked in the subframe, enabling you to create colored plots.
Conversion of Zonestar 3D printer to a Plotter, assembled
Figure 10:
Assembled plotter.

Software

Conversion of Zonestar 3D printer to a Plotter, Software
Figure 11:
I have written two tiny programs for my plotter:
The first one, written in "C" can transmit single lines with coordinates to the printer (plotter) trough USB. Furthermore you can send Gcode files to the plotter so that there is no need for using a SD card.
Conversion of Zonestar 3D printer to a Plotter, Script for conversion of SVG to Gcode
Figure 12:
I am using a Perl script to generate Gcode files from "Scalable Vector Graphics", a file format that common vector graphics software can import or export - my choice is LibreOffice Draw. Before exporting, you must convert all paths into polygons.
The only four colors accepted are black (rgb=0,0,0), red (rgb=255, 0, 0), green (rgb=0, 255, 0), and blue (rgb=0, 0, 255)! All other colors are replaced by one of these that matches best!

Download

You can get my software written for the plotter as well as the 3D files for the printer conversion as download package. Note the "Readme.txt" in the package!

Sample plots

Conversion of Zonestar 3D printer to a Plotter, sample print: Airbus
Figure 13:
Airbus:

Conversion of Zonestar 3D printer to a Plotter, sample print: Ellipses
Figure 14:
Ellipsis:

Conversion of Zonestar 3D printer to a Plotter, sample print: Spirals
Figure 15:
Spirals:

Conversion of Zonestar 3D printer to a Plotter, sample print: Parabolas
Figure 16:
Parabolas:

Conversion of Zonestar 3D printer to a Plotter, sample print: Colored HomoFaciens Logo
Figure 17:
Colored HomoFaciens Logo:

Conversion of Zonestar 3D printer to a Plotter, sample print: Mirror Tile
Figure 18:
PErmanent markers on a mirror tile:




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