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Cardboard Plotter

While it has been a longstanding tradition in mechanical and industrial design courses to task the student to create functional designs out of paper, cardboard, and balsa wood — it is a rare delight to see such a fully-realized project tackled with these “prototyping” materials. Created by Noklas Roy. Thanks to Nick Brewer for the tip!

When I gave a workshop at the School of Art and Design in Offenbach about building digital devices out of cardboard, the students asked me to build a machine as well. I always wanted to own a plotter – so I didn’t have to think too long about what exactly I’d build.

The cardboard plotter is made out of Finnish cardboard, which is very durable, but also easy to cut with a hobby knife. The axles and slide rails are made out of welding rod. Everything is connected with super glue, adhesive tape and tie wraps.

As an interface, I built two rotary dials and a switch. One of the dials moves the pen in y-position. The other dial moves the table under then pen in x-position. The switch lifts the pen or puts it on the paper. When I was done with building the plotter, I also compiled a little code book with coordinates for several drawings. They are written down as a list of numbers from 0 to 9, which makes it effectively a very simple digital storage medium for low resolution vector graphics.

You can find further hires images – also of the building process – in this album.

Read more.


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