While modern printers are at best neglected, and at worst beaten to bits by angry engineers for the entertainment of moviegoers, they are actually quite amazing pieces of technology. After being invited to take apart his friend’s broken desktop printer, Benjamin Poilve was amazed at what he found inside, and began a multi-year journey to build his own.
As seen in the video below, the device went through several iterations. One moves a marker incrementally, enabling it to bleed in proportion to how large a dot should be, while another pecks at the paper like a bird, and still another uses a brush and ink well. After what appears to be a lot of experimentation, he then attempted to build a kit desktop plotter. This features a mostly wooden frame and a nice selection of components that give it very interesting and pleasing look. An EibotBoard is used to allow a computer to control the devie’s stepper motors via Processing, and if you’d like one for yourself, everything you’ll need to construct it can be found on GitHub.
While a gorgeous project, the story doesn’t quite end there. After showing the device off at Maker Faire Paris and receiving several “maker of merit” awards, he decided to try to sell these devices. The unit was redesigned with a custom PCB, along with DC motors, a custom silicon molded body, and a Teensy 3.1 controller. Unfortunately, due to both mechanical and business issues he discusses in his writeup, selling this plotter has yet to really get off the ground. The write-up is worth a look both to see how an awesome project is conceived, and how taking it to market can be fraught with difficulty.