Aug 5, 2016 | By Andre

I find one of the most enduring elements of the human spirit is its quest to conquer the unknown. We as a species have developed a vast civilization that has spanned millenia and almost every advancement we’ve encountered along the way started with a simple “what if?”

Recent progress in open 3D printing technology has allowed French designers Pierre Emm, Piotre Widelka and Johan Da Silveira (otherwise known as Appropriate Audiences) to continue into the unknown with a very important: What if you turned a 3D printer into a tattoo machine?

Starting out after meeting at University, the team quickly realized they had something in common from the get go, “We met there while working on different projects, that quickly led us to the idea of tattooing by robot.” It didn’t take long before local Makerspace le FabShop pointed out that a desktop 3D printer and a tattooing needle was all they would need to get started.

While there is a lot about to wonder about allowing a 3D printer to inject ink into you with quick precision, the dedication of the brainchildren behind the idea has recently led into a collaboration with Autodesk.

From that point on, it was important to overcome one of the largest obstacles of using nothing but a 3D printer to apply the tattoo. The curvature of the human arm, for example, is not compatible with how your typical 3D printer functions. So they had to move into a field of robotics you’re probably more familiar seeing in a modern automobile manufacturing plant.

By using an industrial robot arm and 3D scanning technology, they were able to take information gained from the 3D printed tests to teach the incredibly precise robotic arm to tattoo onto a human being.

David Thomasson from Autodesk’s Applied Research Lab notes that “our research is really focused on the more intimate relationship that people are likely to have with machines in the not to distant future. This project is really pushing that to the limit. Inherently these machines really designed to be separate to people, behind deep barricades. A lot of this is new territory.”

So out of a collaborative idea to a partnership between industries, the pivotal curiosity of whether you can turn a 3D printer (or general purpose industrial robot) into a tattoo artist was answered with a resounding yes.

In the end, after lots of 3D scanning, data mapping and careful preparation the stage was finally set. David Thomasson described event; “everybody in the space was holding their breath it was a little tense, the needle pierced the skin, and then just started doing what it does, what it’s meant to do so elegantly, so precisely, beautifully.”

Now that’s progress.




Posted in 3D Printing Applications



Maybe you also like:


Leave a comment:

Your Name:


Subscribe us to Feeds twitter facebook   

About provides the latest news about 3D printing technology and 3D printers. We are now seven years old and have around 1.5 million unique visitors per month.

News Archive