Uber-maker Niklas Roy (see all his MAKE mentions) built this excellent pen plotter out of Finnish cardboard, welding rod, rubber bands, tape, and glue. I especially love the all-cardboard interface!

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. (…)

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.

By the way, Niklas’s Cardboard Computers workshop looks amazing!


John Baichtal

John Baichtal

My interests include writing, electronics, RPGs, scifi, hackers & hackerspaces, 3D printing, building sets & toys. @johnbaichtal

  • mexoplex

    lmao, why did i think when he hit the “ON” switch, we were going to hear a machine chug to life and print out something automatically?! I’m so silly sometimes.

    • mexoplex

      That thing is Awesome by-the-way!

  • asciimation

    I’ve heard of Swedish steel before but never Finnish cardboard. I think I know what they mean but have never seen it called that before.


  • stantonio

    What is finnish cardboard?

    • Niklas

      Finnboard or woodpulp. You can order it here:

      • stantonio

        Ah woodpulp thanks