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Tattoué the Robot Could Be Your Next Tattoo Artist

But he probably can't talk you through the pain.

by Madison Margolin
Aug 22 2016, 3:14pm

World's First Tattoo by Industrial Robot from Pier 9 on Vimeo.

Ever fear that your tattoo won't come out exactly as you planned? This tattooing robot could eliminate the risk of human error—but the process is still just as painful.

Pierre-Emmanuel Meunier and Johan da Silveira from Autodesk's Pier 9, a creative workshop for artists in residence, created tattoué, a robot that draws tattoos onto human skin, using techniques from 3D printing.

First, the team reconfigured a 3D printer and enabled it to use a needle. The industrial size robot, a machine so big it could be working behind massive barricades, concentrates all its energy into the tiny point on the tip of the needle as it interacts directly with a human.

Before starting the tattoo, the person's body part must be scanned in order to translate and feed the information to the robot. The body part scan is then input into a graphical parametric designing program in order to apply the graphics of the tattoo onto the surface of the skin.

The design of the tattoo and the scan of the body part are coded and exported to the robot so that it knows what to do when executing the tattoo through its huge industrial robot arm. As the video shows, ink may spill all over, but only the calculated incisions in the skin will retain that ink in the shape of the tattoo art.

The team eventually may turn the robot into a commercial venture, but for now they're discussing open sourcing information about robotic tattooing so that university researchers and health professionals can refine and develop the process.

While the robot may be more accurate than a human, having a gargantuan machine carve ink into your body is still somewhat scary—enough to make you flinch, which is exactly what you shouldn't do while getting a tattoo.