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New ways of tattooing? 3D Printer X Tattoo Machine –


3D printing is considered one of the emerging technologies for the industry in general and has a big effect in the private sector as well.

How to use this machine into other ways is what French Design students asked themselves during a workshop, which was funded by the French Ministry of Culture.

The students set themselves the goal of developing a tattoo machine, that tattoos using images from a computer. The machine can read images using archived data sets and transfer it to the skin, with reliably accurate results. Lack of experience, unsteady hands and bad tattoos as result wouldn’t be a problem anymore.

During the workshop, the students hacked a 3D printer and programmed it again for their purposes. The print head of the 3D engine were replaced with a felt-tipped pen. After several unsuccessful attempts, they replaced the pen for an actual tattoo machine.

After the workshop, the students continued to work on their idea and tested the modified machine by performing the first experiments on simple synthetic tattoo skin. The students programmed the machine to tattoo circles, so they could test the precision and accurancy of it.


These experiment convinced them all and the next step would be try it on human skin. The challenge here would be to keep the skin stretched during the tattooing process, in order to obtain a precise result. Of course a person’s skin is much more flexible than the silicone skin that was previously used.

“We experimented with different methods, but finally decided to a sort of rubber hose, which we could pull over the arm. In addition, the arm has been fixed on either side to avoid eventual jitter.” Said one of the founders of Appropriate Audiences, Pierre Emm.

The experiment was successful and the result was an exact circle tattooed on human skin.

So far, the tattooing with the converted 3D Printer is still in its beginning, and only simple draws can be tattooed. Nothing to be compared with the very meticulous and detailed work from the real tattooers. The students are still developing and testing their machine so in the near future it will be able to tattoo people’s bodies and complicated images.

The interest in the 3D Tattoo Printer engine is great, because of the precision levels that it can reach. At the same time, some artists fear that tattooers will be replaced and they will end up losing their jobs. The inventors of the “3D Printer X Tattoo Machine” say that they do not want to replace the tattooist or make unnecessary the transition into the tattoo studio. They are all about, to give the tattooists a new working tool at hand to adapt to their needs in order to offer them new technical possibilities for their work.

The development of “3D Printer X Tattoo Machine” is revolutionary, but it does not mean the end of the ancient craft of tattooing, but only a technical development, an additional tool for the tattoo. As well as in other arts, it is the the artwork of the individual, the artists themselves that makes it unique.

Click on the image below to see the video



Text by: Anna Roloff

Pictures by: Appropriate audiences

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