Would you let this robot give you a tattoo?

There are a number of things I won’t stick into a needle-wielding 3D printer, and my forearm is definitely one of them. The future, however, is full of surprises and, as this video currently doing the rounds shows, tattooing robots might soon be a reality.


There is a certain amount of irony in having a typified symbol of rebellion and individuality turned into an autonomous mechanical procedure but, Walter Benjamin references aside, it looks pretty cool. The machine was made by French design studio Appropriate Audiences, who modified a MakerBot 3D printer to tattoo a design onto skin at a rate of 150 punctures per second.

According to Appropriate Audiences, the main issue to overcome was enabling the printer to register the curvature of human body parts. Basically, you don’t want to stick your arm in the machine and have it treat your skin like a flat 2D surface. To overcome this, the studio added a sensor to the needle attachment that lets the printer trace the curves and contours of whatever is being tattooed and adjust accordingly.

The project was the result of a workshop organised by the French Ministry of Culture in conjunction with the renowned design school, ENSCI Les Ateliers. You can watch all episodes of the series charting the tattooing robot’s development here.

Don’t want to stick your own body parts into the machine? Why not 3D print your own skin to be tattooed by the 3D printer tattooist?

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