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Axidraw becomes Axipaint

Lets an Axidraw dispense thick or thin fluids: oil paint, solder paste, icing, ceramic slip, silicone, acrylic paint, glue, grease, etc.

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I connected a Nordson EFD fluid dispenser to my Axidraw pen plotter to allow it to "paint." It can now dispense various fluids: painting was my primary goal, but just about anything you can pour should work with a bit of testing.

I connected a Nordson EFD fluid dispenser to my Axidraw pen plotter to allow it to "paint." It can now dispense various fluids: painting was my primary goal, but just about anything you can pour should work with a bit of testing.

The plus side is that this only involves a few lines of Python code, a simple hardware connector, and no permanent modifications to either piece of hardware.

The minus side is that this requires two specific pieces of hardware: the Axidraw pen plotter, and any one of several Nordson fluid dispensers.

The Nordson EFD 1000 and 1500 series both work, and used ones can be found on everyone's favorite auction site for something like $100. If you are in a hurry, it could cost you more, wait, and it could cost less.

The hardware interface should cost less than $10 to build, and isn't permanently attached to either device.

The Nordson EFD uses standard syringe barrels and tips, which are available from McMaster-Carr, or the above mentioned auction site. The Axidraw can accept 3cc or 5cc syringe barrels without modification. My initial testing with oil paint suggests that 5cc is more than enough for most drawings within the footprint that the Axidraw covers.

If you don't have shop air, you will need an air compressor to push the paint. I'm using a tiny air compressor of the type used for a hobby air brush. The Nordson documentation asks for a minimum of 80 psi input, even if you are dropping it to 20 psi output. My little compressor puts out 60 psi, and works just fine.

So, while we're here, I see no reason that this outfit couldn't accommodate an air brush instead of the syringe dispensers.

This project does require adding a few lines of Python code to one of Axidraw's files. This code does not hinder the Axidraw when the Nordson EFD is not connected. You can download the modified file, or look for my comments and make you own edits. If you do your own edits, note that this file requires tabs, and not spaces, for indents.

ebb_motion.py

This version of ebb_motion.py adds four lines of code to the original file provided with the Axidraw. They set pin B3 on the ebb board as an output pin, and output 3.3vdc when the pen goes down, and 0v when the pen goes up. It should have no effect on the Axidraw when the Nordson EFD is not connected to B3.

x-python-script - 4.96 kB - 02/14/2017 at 02:21

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  • 1 × 3.3v relay: Jameco p# 761563
  • 2 × electrical connectors and wires from the scrap bin
  • 1 × pcb break out board Radio Shack P# 276-159B Maybe unnecessary, but it made troubleshooting easier.....

  • 1

    This is the harness that will connect the Axidraw to the Nordson EFD. It's two connectors, two wires, one relay, and the (optional) break-out board.

  • 2

    I did not have the perfect connector for the pins on the ebb board. It can, however, be fudged up from either of these headers that I did have.

  • 3

    I removed the pins that were not needed and soldered my signal wires to the header, and added heat shrink.

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