Experimental "X-Draw" Build – 1800mm x 2500mm

Hi All,
I am a professor teaching experimental/algorithmic drawing at an art and design college. I am going to attempt to modify the X-Carve to function as a massive drawing/painting machine (X-Draw?). The size has to be 1800mm x 2500mm for the project. The good news is that since we will only be using paint markers, there will be very little weight and friction on the gantry.

Here’s what I imagine are the big hurdles:

  1. Joining Makerslide lengths (I’ve read about these issues throughout the forum. Thanks!)
  2. Wire resistance? Will I need different cable/wires at this length? What would happen if I used the same cable/wires?
  3. Belt tension? Will this be a problem? Suggestions?

Any other issues I’m missing?
Is X-Carve the best route, or is there another kit that would better suit the project?
Any advice would be much appreciated!

Thanks to everyone in the forum – I have already learned a ton and haven’t even started.

I’d bet it would be doable, since your effective spindle load will be near zero, and the weight ON the frame will be again near zero. You’ll definitely want to add the stiffening bar on the gantry as you build it, and some mid-frame supports on the Y-rails, but I’ll bet you could do it. Belts I wouldn’t worry too much about, since again your backpressure is going to be very near zero…

Should be darn cool!

Thanks so much for the notes so far.
The minimum drawing area will need to be 61"x82", but hoping to be able to go a few inches larger. Planning to use the extra large paper typically used for backdrops in photo shoots (it’s actually good quality for drawing). Also, primed cotton canvas mounted to board.

My guess is the accuracy only needs to be somewhere around .0325" at most, so I guess I’m safe.

OK. I’m going to put together a shopping list and may ask a couple of more questions about lengths needed before I dive in.
Thanks again.

Can I ask you why not good wide format printer? this is something that would cost you about the same.
I got canon 60 inch wide at work that I paid for if I remember right 3.5k few years back and I would imagine its much less now.
I can show you some canvas prints I did that would knock your socks off with quality.

Sure. Yea, I know it’s kind of ridiculous. But the quality of a paint marker strapped to a cnc is just different than a print. I plan to experiment with layering, dripping, puddling, pushing around the paint in different ways, etc. Hopefully I’ll come up with something that can’t be done with a printer. Here’s images of the first couple of tests using Rhino/Grasshopper to generate g-code for a Shopbot w/Paint-Marker. I think on a large scale it’ll get really interesting. We’ll see.

Ok I see your point.
To be honest I would probably use one of the open builds guides and build something from scratch for what you need.
I feel like thew steel carriage in the center is way to router specific and all the weight will be counter productive for you.
Have look at the build I’m working on for monster carve that fits your size requirements just right and it could be slimmed down in so many places to cut the cost for your needs and less “violent” environment.

This is a great idea, I have been talking with a college of mine about the same(ish) thing. One thing to ask, have you thought about using an old pen plotter? I only used them a few times long ago but they definitely give a different feel compared to modern inkjet printers. Now days they look to be supper cheap and some people are converting them to accept a knife and are used as vinyl cutter. http://www.ebay.com/itm/HP-Pen-Plotter-Model-7580-A-/131705787690

Check out Frank Howarth’s videos as he makes a monster sized CNC. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XNvoFTV5tIE

either way, best of luck the paints look great already, cant wait to see more.

1 Like

Deepnoizer that build looks amazing… very curious to see how it goes. I’ll look into OpenBuilds again. My main concerns right now are getting this done quickly, and then having it work consistently so the technical issues don’t become a distraction.
As for Pen Plotters, yes I have an old one – it’s great to work with. Can’t use paint with it though because the paper has to roll through the machine. But pens and pencils look great.

Alright… What do you think?
Will it be too light weight a structure? or probably good enough to handle just the paint marker?
I want to keep it light and avoid attaching a waste board. Instead, I’ll just put the painting (the white block) directly on the cross-bars.
I have the cross-bars laid out in this way so they will both support the canvas (which I can clamp to the bars) and provide structure for the machine itself.

I am assuming that you are using Canvas to draw/paint on?

I would add more extrusions to support the canvas frame more evenly.

I like your idea. Please keep sharing.

Thanks for the reply – I should have provided more detail. Yes. This build is for making paintings and drawings. Mostly on primed canvas or paper mounted on a cradled board… like the board in the attached photo. So the board would be prepared and then placed on the X-Carve framing.

I guess my question was more about if the X-Carve itself – Would it end up shifting around too much with such a minimal structure.

I think you got the right idea.
There is a lot of cool things you could that would not be expensive.

You could also just skip the center extrusions all together and use for something like mdf and bolt directly support for maker slides.
I’m personally pleased with this product I used:

Hell you could even just connect end plates to keep machine square and bring entire frame on top of your stock. Just like this picture of ebay product on top of the wood stump.

This would be the only reason why I recommend more extrusions in your base, to fully support the frame of the canvas.

Is this machine going to be permenantly located some where or does it need easy maneuverability. If it will be stationary and on a table top, then I would completely do away with the substructure and mount the Y-rails directly to the tables surface. This will give you the flatness that you need to keep your canvas from tipping. With a table top underneath as the “work table” any size canvas setup will work. This way you never have to worry about a smaller canvas not fitting across the rails.

Not to mention this will save you $$$ from not having to purchase the extrusions and connectors. The biggest problem is finding a table big enough. But that could be solved by making a simple torsion box from MDF and 2x4s. Perfectly flat isn’t a 100% necessity for you so this would be a simple fix.

This is pretty much what I did with my build. I have about 31"X62" of usable space on my 1000mm X 1800mm unit. I built a table and then secured my Y-rails to the table with 4 3/4"MDF spacers supporting the full length of the rails.

By the way The standard 1800mm rails give me right at 62" on the Y-axis.

Edit:whoops looks like someone beat me to the punch on leaving out the extrusions. Didn’t see that reply. Guess I shouldn’t pause in the middle of a post.

Can you describe these paint pens for me? I have a curious thought. Thinking outside the box here.
Do these paint pens work in any direction? For instance, if I wanted to draw on my office ceiling with the paint pen, are there any negatives to using the pen in this direction? Or does it work like a sharpie and pretty much any direction is “up”?


Thanks gentleman. All good ideas. I have to think on it all a bit more.
Also very glad to know that 1800mm will get me 62". That’s just enough.

I definitely will need to move it out of the way when not in use, so it either has to be lightweight and self-supporting or use some kind of pulley system like Deepnoizer’s.
I was also kind of fantasizing that I might be able to run the machine while it was leaning at an angle to save space in my shop… or even hang it on the wall and tilt the marker (pretty much only because that would be cool.)

About the markers… just google "graffiti marker’, there’s all kinds, most need some gravity to work.

ok, Thanks, I was contemplating on hanging the machine upside down and mounted to the ceiling. This way you could directly stand underneath it and watch it paint, thats if the pens worked upside down. This could free up your entire workspace. but like i said, just thinking outside the box.

I would be curious to see at what angle of incline the machine must be at before it starts to show noticeable issues, such as missing steps. of course this would also vary depending on each custom build. a dwp611 would definitely show issues prior to a pen holder.

If its not on a flat surface i would think you would have some issues with racking or twisting, and larger cross members would be needed. Since i have a stock size i think Angus and Deepnoizer have some great posts about their builds.

One thing to consider is you could have the aluminum extrusion supplier cut all the pieces for you. I considered having an aluminum table base made and still might in the future, but i have used Misumi for additional extrusions and parts and they were very reasonably priced. Here is a link to configuration page for stock aluminum assemblies (aluminum is pre-cut with the necessary corner brackets/gussets and all required assembly hardware), perhaps if you call or soot them an email they could price out all your part & pieces.


Nice upside down idea… but the markers can’t do it… and the machine can’t go at an angle. It looks like I need to respect those laws of physics. I definitely don’t want to get bogged down in designing the machine as I need time to develop the actual paintings before some deadlines. That’s the big attraction of modding X-carve as opposed to designing a cheaper one from scratch. I’d rather invest in getting this up and running quickly. I can save on the project in other ways.

So, the plan then is to keep it horizontal while operating… and keep it lightweight so I can tilt it when not in use.

Cool. I’ll check out the site.

Very doable… have to love watercolorbot