There are plenty of people that build 2D plotters to create artwork on a variety of materials. Paper, wood, plastic, and glass, to name a few. With so many artistic pens available, you can really get creative with the help of the precise movements of your 3D printer. You could even take engraving to a level far beyond human capabilities.\n\n\n\n2D Plotting or drawing with a 3D printer involves attaching a pen near the nozzle of your 3D printer. With the pen attached, gcode can be loaded for the printer to start drawing. Generating the gcode can be done with Inkscape and a couple of plugins. All of which are free to download.\n\n\n\nYou can draw your own designs in Inkscape and convert them into gcode for your printer to plot. You can also import any image and turn that into gcode for printing. But you\u2019ll have to have the plugins to generate the gcode. Diagonal lines can be drawn to give the picture depth and contrast. We\u2019ll explain how to do all of this and more.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nWhy Do 2D Drawings With 3D Printers?\n\n\n\nAt first glance, it might seem as if turning your 3D printer into a 2D plotter is rather counterintuitive, a step back in technology. Here are just a few use cases for 2D plotters that aren\u2019t possible with normal printers.\n\n\n\nCreate artwork.\n\n\n\nUsing special pens with sparkling gel or even a whiteout pen on a dark paper can produce some unique results. If you\u2019re not sure what kind of artwork is possible, have a look at #plottertwitter to see.\n\n\n\nTo make high-quality cards.\n\n\n\nWant to go \u201cold school\u201d and make some greeting, invitational, or congratulatory cards? Get those glitter gel pens out of the draw. Once you\u2019ve set up the software with the instructions on what to print, it will do the job much quicker than you can.\n\n\n\nPrinting the detail for each card will usually take less than a minute. So even if you\u2019re sending out invites to 50 people, (maybe to an 80s themed party) it will probably take less than an hour, faster and more accurately than you can.\n\n\n\nYou can draw on materials other than paper.\n\n\n\nIf you want to draw on transparent plastic so that you can overlay it onto something else, this will work well. Attach your marker to the 3D printer and secure the clear plastic to the bed.\n\n\n\nPerfect Engravings.\n\n\n\nIn the same way that you can add an ink pen for drawing, you can add pen style engravers to engrave steel or other materials with mechanical precision. Considering you can\u2019t erase an engraving when you make a mistake, this type of accuracy can be quite useful. Just do a test print on a piece of spare steel to make sure the settings are correct.\n\n\n\nFor people who don\u2019t have a normal printer.\n\n\n\nMaybe you don\u2019t have a traditional ink or laser jet printer. Or maybe it can only support A4 paper when you need to print on A3. Technically, a 3D printer will take longer to get the job done, but the results will look very different and you can do a lot more with it, as detailed above.\n\n\n\nHow To Draw In 2D With 3D Printer\n\n\n\nThere are plenty of ways to set your 3D printer up as a 2D plotter. This is one of the easiest by far.\n\n\n\nWhat you\u2019ll need:\n\n\n\n3D Printer.A ball-point pen or sharpie. (Later on you can experiment with other types of pens)A pen mount. Here is a design on thingiverse.com.Cable ties to secure the pen mount.Rubber band to hold the pen in the mount.Paper to draw on.Inkscape app. (Free) Download here.KM-Laser gcode plugin here. (For hatsch infill)Jtech plugin here. (To generate gcode)\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nHardware section\n\n\n\nMake sure G2\/G3 arc support is enabled in Marlin.Check your printer bed to make sure it\u2019s level. (Here\u2019s a leveling tutorial on YouTube)Download this pen mount design and print it.Attach the pen mount to your 3D printer with the cable ties.Secure your paper to the bed with clips or masking tape.Secure the pend in the mount with a rubber band.Position the height of the pen\u2019s tip a little lower than the extruder nozzle.\n\n\n\nSoftware section\n\n\n\nInstall Inkscape.Install the Inkscape plugins.\n\n\n\nCreate a header and footer for gcode\n\n\n\nGo to your Inkscape extensions folder where you unzipped the plugins.Open laser.py with a text editor.Scroll down to the header and footer and add the text as below:\n\n\n\nG28\nG90\nG0 Z20\nM117 Deploy Pen NOW! 10\nG4 P1000\nM117 Deploy Pen NOW! 9\nG4 P1000\nM117 Deploy Pen NOW! 8\nG4 P1000\nM117 Deploy Pen NOW! 7\nG4 P1000\nM117 Deploy Pen NOW! 6\nG4 P1000\nM117 Deploy Pen NOW! 5\nG4 P1000\nM117 Deploy Pen NOW! 4\nG4 P1000\nM117 Deploy Pen NOW! 3\nG4 P1000\nM117 Deploy Pen NOW! 2\nG4 P1000\nM117 Deploy Pen NOW! 1\nG4 P1000\nM117 Drawing..\n\n\n\n\nFor the footer, add:\n\n\n\nG0 Z20\nG28 X0 Y0\nM18\n\n\n\n\nThis header and footer will guide your 3D printer at the start and end of the process. You\u2019ll also have a 10 second window to make sure everything looks right before the print starts.\n\n\n\nOpen Inkscape.Create the vector graphics you want to print. (Add text, shapes, etc)Once you\u2019re done with creating the design, select all, go to the Path tab and click on \u201cObject to path\u201d\n\n\n\nThe extension that we\u2019re using is meant for lasers and will only follow the outlines of the design. We\u2019ll fill in the other sections with the other extension.\n\n\n\nSelect your design and turn the \u201cFill\u201d off and turn the \u201cStroke\u201d on. (To see the outlines)While the design is still selected, go to the extensions drop-down menu at the top, hover over generate laser code, and click on JTech Photonics Laser Tool.Copy the values from the picture below to get the printer to lift the pen between strokes and move at optimal speeds.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nOnce you click Apply, you\u2019ll see a bunch of arrows all over the design, these are to show the path that the pen will follow when drawing. (Don\u2019t close the window yet)Measure the distance between your printer nozzle and pen tip, both X and Y axes.Add the values to the figures at the bottom of the page. Click Apply again.\n\n\n\nNow you can go to the laser tool\u2019s output directory to get the gcode. There will be a version for every time you click apply. Load the gcode into your printer and start the print.\n\n\n\nImporting images to Inkscape\n\n\n\nDrag and drop the image into Inkscape.Select the image.Go to the path tab and click on Trace Bitmap.Click on the live preview and adjust the settings until you\u2019re satisfied.Click on Ok and move the original image away.With the vector selected, turn off Fill and turn on Stroke to see the outline of the image.Go to the extensions tab again and select KM Laser, GENERATE: HATCH FILLAdjust the values as you see fit. (These are the horizontal lines that will fill the solid areas of the vector)Click apply.Go to the extensions tab, Generate Laser Gcode, JTech Photonics Laser Tool.The settings should be the same as before so when you click apply, the gcode will be saved.\n\n\n\nRelated Articles\n\n\n\nHow to Print a File from Thingiverse (The Easy Way!)Create a Temperature Tower Using Cura - The Easy WayWhat Computer Do I Need for a 3D Printer?Cura Profiles\n\n\n\nConclusion\n\n\n\nAdding 2D plotter capabilities to your 3D printer can definitely stir up some new creative juices. With not much more than a pen and some free software, you could be plotting within the hour. With so many types of pens to use and materials to print on, you can make unique artwork that stands out.\n\n\n\nMake sure you check out our YouTube channel, and if you would like any additional details or have any questions, please leave a comment below or join us on Discord. If you liked this article and want to read others click here.