Create High-Quality Art with This New, Hackable Draw Bot

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Create High-Quality Art with This New, Hackable Draw Bot


Make: friends Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories have continued their great history of bringing amazing drawing robots to Makers everywhere with the AxiDraw. The AxiDraw joins the EMSL line that includes the always popular Eggbot and WaterColorBot. The AxiDraw is a flat pen-based drawing machine, capable of creating intricate art and even calligraphy.

The basic hardware will look familiar to 3D printing fans out there, with a small servo replacing the Z axis of this machine. Watching the product video, I was stunned by the quality of the drawing from the AxiDraw. This simple design looks like it could be a great starter platform for anyone interested in hacking with a drawing platform; add a cutting blade to make a desktop cutter or a laser diode to make a laser etcher, lots of possibilities.


Like many of the other EMSL drawing machines, the AxiDraw utilizes a series of Inkscape extensions to control the machine. Inkscape is free and open source, and its python plugin system makes creating extensions for machines like this easy. I even wrote an Inkscape extension in 2011 when I built my own machine capable of drawing and 3D printing in cheese! This greatly ups the “hackability” of this platform, allowing tinkerers to push the platform to its limits or create programmatic works of art.

The AxiDraw has a working area of 300x218mm, more than enough to draw on a standard A4 or 8.5×11 inch piece of paper. At just under 4 pounds, the AxiDraw can be easily taken with you for art on the go!

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Matt is a community organizer and founder of 3DPPVD, Ocean State Maker Mill, and HackPittsburgh. He is Make's digital fabrication and reviews editor.

View more articles by Matt Stultz


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