Say Hello to Tatoué, the World’s First Robot Tattoo Artist Made Using a Desktop 3D Printer

by Shayne Rana

Designed as a workshop project at the Paris Design school in France, the world’s first robotic tattoo artist was born. Dubbed Tatoué, the set up is simply a mish-mash of existing technology, hard work, massive intuitive brain power, mathematical judgment, hacked hardware and innovation coming out the whazoo!

Tatoué was born out of all of the above but is essentially a commercially available desktop 3D printer that was hacked. That coupled with a tattoo inking pen in place of the three axis based point that would usually extrude melted plastic to make desired object, it was re-designed to “print” on flesh. French 3D-printing company Le FabShop, was also instrumental in helping these brainy young students and tattoo fanatics develop the machine.

3d-printer-tattoo-machine-1Using stencils, cut outs and a lot of precision based programs, the designers had to also tweak the software itself to help create the designs and to enable them to work seamlessly on a curved surface that was prone to movement and also quite flexible i.e. the human arm. The initial tests simply used a pen to trace on skin before the tattoo inking pen was attached and tested on artificial skin. Tests proved to be successful and ‘human trials’ began. “A lot of people were excited by the idea of being the first human tattooed by a ‘robot’,” said the designers.

The first successful test on actual, live human skin was a circle and thus was born the very first programmable tattoo machine. Although the developers are still tweaking the software to make it more user friendly for artists, the machine worked! Of course it’s still a long way off from becoming an off-the-shelf retail machine; however, the developers also believe that it could have other potential like in medicine and other fields. The natural progression for Tatoué would be to have a machine that could tattoo a person on any part of their body with as complicated a design an artist can think up.