Aug 19, 2016 | By Andre

There are many decisions that can be made during a life time that, once made, cannot be un-made. Getting a tattoo is one of those decisions. And since tattoos are forever trendy with much of the world’s population, it’s no wonder that 3D printing is starting to get involved with the age-old form of physical expression. In fact, industrial robots as well as low-cost 3D printers have already been used to tattoo people but now appears that the technology has the ability to 3D print many of the components necessary to make a DIY rotary tattoo machine.

The machine, officially called Scratchr, is the brainchild of Sparkfun contributor Nick Poole and is based on the idea of Thomas Edison’s 1876 stencil-pen concept (which by the way is related to how tattooing has been done ever since). The thought was, if the mechanisms involved were simple enough to produce in 1876, then it shouldn’t be too difficult to 3D print one in the modern times and evidently this was true.

And as with most DIY projects that involve moving parts, a mix of inexpensive micro-controllers, motors, switches, wires and of course 3D printed components are necessary. Luckily for anyone that wants to make their own tattoo gun, the files are freely available on the projects github page and just about any half-way decent desktop 3D printer would be able to produce the necessary enclosure parts.

In Nick’s case, he admits the file design and 3D printing required for Scratchr are simple and can be done quickly (just over an hour on his machine). From a materials perspective, both ABS or PLA would work, as would any other reliably rigid filaments available out there today. All in, you are looking at roughly $50 worth of raw materials for the device itself plus additional costs for the ink and sanitary gear necessary to ensure a quality tattoo.

I should pause with a warning here. Tattoos are permanent. Tattoos are illegal for minors in many countries. And tattooing yourself (or someone else) with a 3D printed tattoo gun is quite possibly riskier than going about using more professional routes. But as one can see in the detailed video below, it’s certainly possible and the results aren’t half bad.

All things said, there is enough in terms of instructions in the video and the aforementioned github page to get the project underway and, if somewhat savvy with the tools and technology listed, completely doable as a quick weekend project. Still, while I am a big fan of 3D printing, this is one project I won’t be following through with myself, for if I ever did ever get a tattoo, I’d rather leave it to the pros.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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