Introducing the AxiDraw

AxiDraw drawing machine

We are very pleased to introduce our newest art robot: the AxiDraw.

The AxiDraw is a simple, modern, precise, and versatile pen plotter, capable of writing or drawing on almost any flat surface. It can write with your favorite fountain pens, permanent markers, and other writing implements to handle an endless variety of applications. Its unique design features a writing head that extends beyond the machine, making it possible to draw on objects bigger than the machine itself.

AxiDraw drawing machine

The AxiDraw is a fantastic machine for making art — along with all those other things that you might use a pen-wielding robot for: Making “hand written” invitations, signing forms, or making neater whiteboard art than one might otherwise be able to.

AxiDraw is available to order today, and begins shipping next week. See it in action and learn more on the product page.

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132 thoughts on “Introducing the AxiDraw

  1. It’s hard to tell from the photos but if I wanted to hack this to make it’s drawing area much larger it looks as if I’d just have to replace the four travel rods and the belt?

    1. Yes, along with some minor tweaks to the configuration parameters (XY limits) in the software. The X axis scales easily. However, the Y axis can’t be extended much further unless the base is also bolted down, and there will be a performance hit due to the longer lever arm acting more like a tuning fork.

      1. Thanks for the speedy reply…..was about to purchase this small one but would find it limiting for the art I would need it to create- do you have an approximate time table for the larger models? (Can I purchase the current one and buy the “upgrade” parts to allow for the larger surfaces?- Or will it be an entirely new model?)
        Great concept- can’t wait to get one- (money is burning a hole in my pocket waiting!!)
        Cheers~ Well done Evil Scientists!

        1. We haven’t fleshed out the details yet, and don’t want to comment much more out in public just yet. Please contact us directly if you’d like to follow up further.

  2. I assume the pressure is adjustable? What I am really wondering is, how well this would work with paint pens, as they tend to drip/bleed if too much comes out at once. Have you done any tests with these? If it worked, you could basically print on anything (flat)!

    1. By default, the pen rides on the surface by its weight alone. This is perfect for fountain pens, roller balls, and markers. It is possible to add a small amount of pressure, for example to use roller balls. We have not looked at paint pens– they may require more pressure than we can deliver.

  3. How much pressure is put down on the arm? Is it possible to attach an X-acto knife to create a die-cutter? thanks!

    1. There is only a small amount of pressure, and it is not necessarily consistent enough to work effectively as a die cutter. Also, there is some subtlety needed when using a cutting blade– it needs to not create excessive drag, but also cut at the very center where the pen is mounted.

  4. Can it be held on or temporarily secured to a vertical surface – such as to draw directly on a wall or wall-mounted white board?

    1. Yes, although we don’t have a good solution for securing it to the wall. By default, the pen rides on the surface by its weight alone. However, it is possible to add a rubber band to add a little extra pressure, or to simulate gravity when positioned vertically.

  5. Another question: would it be possible to stitch multiple drawings onto a larger surface as this has an A4 sized print capability only? It would seem possible~ was wondering if anyone has tried doing a larger piece of art by moving the plotter over and continuing?
    (Question as to how to stitch lines perfectly?)

    1. We have had quite a few inquiries about that, but do not (yet) have a good solution for either slicing larger images, or getting perfect registration after moving it. I have a sense that there should be a good solution, but we’re not there just yet. :)

  6. Does the pen holder have a pressure sensor, does it require a completely flat surface, or how does it know the correct depth to drop the pen? Looks fast and sharp, nice work!

    1. The pen rests against the surface by its own weight (plus the weight of the pen holder). That allows it to ride over moderately bumpy surfaces, but possibly not highly textured surfaces.

    1. We are not (thus far) planning that capability. Amongst other reasons is that we do not have any automatic sheet feeder for the AxiDraw. Compared with other machines it can plot on a wider variety of surfaces, but is less suitable for mass production in that way.

  7. I saw this video on Facebook what a brilliant little machine does so much amazing things, I was wondering if this product is selling I’d like to own one in my home, it looks very useful in lots of ways home work, businesses letters ect…??

  8. Is this an open source project? If so where is the github for this. I want to play. I habe a 3d printer I could use to run your code. Thanks.

    1. Yes, there will be guides. Public links will be published soon.
      The driver is the new set of AxiDraw extensions for Inkscape– we have not posted them publicly yet. (A version is available on github, and we have much more documentation to publish!)

  9. Hi..I am from UAE..I liked your pen plotter and wish to buy one to my home. How can I avail it ?

  10. Hi there,

    I have a question regarding the type of files we can print, is it possible to use jpg. dwg. png !! also what software we can use with it ?? is it possible to use photoshop, autocad ??

    Thanks in advance

    Best regards,
    Faner Francis

    1. No; the AxiDraw is a pen plotter that requires vector artwork. It will not work with bitmap files (jpg, png, etc). You can use Inkscape to do your design work, or import vector graphics that you generate in other programs — e.g., SVG from Adobe Illustrator.

  11. This looks awesome! Will you be posting the device firmware as well? I’d like to learn more about the control method since it doesn’t appear to use traditional G-code commands to the robot.

    Thanks!

  12. I notice that several people asked about pen pressure. Some years ago I adapted a large-bed plotter to use felt tip markers to draw part-cutting patterns on fiberglass laminates. In order to provide good pen contact I stacked one or more steel hex nuts on the upper end of the pen. Nuts of various sizes, to fit different pen diameters, are inexpensive and readily available from hardware stores.

  13. Have you guys tried using the Axidraw with an indelible pen for making PCBs by drawing etch-resistant ink directly onto copper laminate? It’s a technique that used to be done on the old Roland plotters.

    1. (Oh wow– it’s Big Clive!)
      We have not tried that. It has been many years since I’ve etched a PCB by myself! Seeing how it handles a Sharpie marker, I would imagine that it would work quite well for that, when driven at a lower speed.

  14. Hi! Axidraw looks awesome! I’m interested of buying it for art.
    Which resolution / dpi has Axidraw?
    Do you have some images for example of technical drawings?
    I would like to see how precise can be Axidraw. I have checked other Pen plotters / drawing robots, Axidraw seems to be more precise.
    How Axidraw knows if the pen is thin or not?
    For example if I want to fill completely the ballons that you have in your example video and leave some highlight reflections.
    How about gradients? How Axidraw handles gradients? Some vectors have gradients, that go from white to black passing through grayscale.
    Thank you in advance!

    1. The theoretical resolution of the AxiDraw is 2032 steps per inch (80 steps per mm).

      The Voronoi/Delaunay example on our product page was intended to give an example of technical drawing.

      Precision is primarily a tradeoff with speed– You can move at high speeds when using fat pens, but you’ll want to slow down for decent precision when doing fine work. Contact us by email (through our contact form) if you would like to request some additional examples.

      AxiDraw has no idea what kind of pen it is holding.

      AxiDraw can only draw paths. Filled regions can filled instead with paths before sending the graphic to be printed. We have an Inkscape utility that can automate this. Path-filled regions do not have to be “simply connected” — if the filled region is donut shaped, the center would not be filled with paths. Similarly, a highlight on a balloon would be easy to manage.

      There is no support for gradients, unless you have a way to convert them into paths.

  15. Hi team,

    Myself kumaran residing in chennai (India), I would like to buy this product for my personal use whether it is available in my place. Please let me know whom to contact.

    Regards
    Kumaran.R

  16. can/could you design something in Corel Draw, save it as some format and get it do work with this??

    Thanks

  17. Hello!

    Cool little plotter! I’m assuming that the AxiDraw can’t vary the pressure on the pen? That would be a cool addition for AxiDraw v2.0… true calligraphic effects would be possible.

    Does all the output happen at a uniform speed, or can it accelerate and decelerate on strokes to simulate handwriting or signatures, for example?

    1. The pen rests on the surface, and can ride over bumps, and handles surfaces that are textured or uneven — it does not apply pressure. We could change it such that it could apply pressure instead, but that is a tradeoff (a gain in one capability for a lost in another).

      If we did add that capability, it would likely be as an alternative pen drawing head, which could probably fit onto the current model.

      The biggest issue is actually one of software– we don’t have a simple way to input or display that pressure data. With simple path tracing, you can start with a PDF in MS word. But if you need to do enter pressure for each stroke, that’s a much more challenging prospect.

      The AxiDraw extensions for Inkscape do allow acceleration and deceleration — it goes slower around curves. There is also an option for uniform speed for use cases where that is desired.

      1. Hi! Is there any possibillity to adjust speed during writing on choosen areas of draw? Also is any additional software in set (drivers, options for printing etc)? And when you are planning upgrade to v.2? I’d like to purchase one if pressure/speed functions software adjustment will be added!

        1. The speed is adjustable, but generally is used for the entire part that is being printed at once. To print certain elements at a different speed, one could separate them onto a separate layer of the document, and print that layer after adjusting speed settings.

          We do not have any plan to have adjustable pen pressure; the chief difficulty is one of user interface. (It is quite challenging to find good ways to input and represent pen pressure on the software side.)

          1. The pressure can decontrolled by the color of the path. Similar to what is done with LaserCutter. Another solution is to be able to send commands over OSC and let users worry about the drawing.

            Right now, you have Pen Up distance, and pen down distance options. It is my guess that you can control pressure using these variables

            Am I missing something?

  18. Are there preset fonts and layouts within the software or do you need to import completed files?

    1. How user friendly is this machine for someone with zero experience with a plotter but with quite a bit design experience.

  19. Can this be programmed to use brushes (i.e. pick up paint from a palette)? doesn’t too technically far-fetched. Also are there API?

    1. It is possible, although we do not have any method to suggest of picking up the brushes. (We have discussed means of making automatic pen changers in the context of WaterColorBot– it is harder here in AxiDraw, because there is no obvious location to store the magazine of tools.) There is an API available through RoboPaint.

  20. I want to buy this wonderful device.

    As I am Korean,

    Does it work with Korean and Chinese characters?

    1. We do not have experience using Inkscape with other languages; it may work well or not– we simply do not have experience there. However, you can make your artwork (whether that is text or drawings) in another program (for example Adobe Illustrator or Microsoft Word), and import it as an SVG (or PDF, under some circumstances). Once you have the artwork in as vector curves — whether English, Chinese, or Arabic — the AxiDraw can draw them.

  21. Is it possible to use Axidraw components to build a much larger plotter? 3ft x 3ft ?
    also, can we use it with AutoCad or HPGL drivers?

    1. It would not work to scale that much larger without significant issues. We are discussing larger machines– contact us directly (through our contact form) if you would like to be kept in the loop.

      We do not have any experience using AutoCad or HPGL drivers. However, there are likely some interchange formats that we could work with. (For example, HPGL files can be automatically converted to SVG with utilities such as pstoedit.)

  22. Is there any periodic service required, service like oiling of moving parts, replacements of wear and tear components, if any. thank you.

    1. A drop of appropriate machine oil in the XY shafts every couple of months is a good idea, but not absolutely required. No components are planned to require regular replacement.

      1. In a relate question, I owned a X-Y plotter and find that the belt tends to loosen up over time and so the plotting is not as accurate. The problem with this plotter is it doesn’t have any way of adjust the belt tension. The pulleys are fixed. You basically have to unscrew the belt and redo it if it too loose. I have a 3D printer where it also uses belt for the bed but this design has one pulley attached to adjustable screw nut. Make it so easy to adjust belt tension. So is there such thing on AxiDraw? Or how easy is it to adjust belt tension?

  23. At first this machine has no comments there is only complements.This is excellent.I would like to market this machine in India.I want to become dealer for this product.

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