The students had one day (8 hours) to pick their digital material and transform it, hack it or remix it.
Le FabShop, was invited as a digital manufacturing expert to help the students realise their project.
After a short brainstorm, all the teams came up with similar ideas, except one, who really went out of the box with their concept. They had this silly idea of making a machine that could automatically create tattoos taken from a bank of images. They learned from le FabShop's representative that their concept was more than feasible. It could be prototyped by themselve, using the school's equipment.
In one afternoon, they managed to hack a Desktop 3D printer and enable it to trace on skin, using a pen instead of the extruder. The crowd was amazed and the Minister of culture even came to see the projects, but the young designers didn’t want to stop there. They wanted the machine to make REAL tattoos, on REAL skin, so they kept working on the project during their spare time, with some help from teachers and other students.
They borrowed a manual tattoo-machine from an amateur tattoo artist and found some artificial skin for the first tests. They chose to draw a simple circle. The perfect shape to test the precision of the process. It worked! But now they had to find a volunteer to be their “guiney pig”…
Somehow, they had no difficulty. A lot of people where excited by the idea of being the first human tatooed by a “robot”.
The big difficulty was to repeat the same exercise on a curve surface and on a material that has much more flexibility than silicone. Many tricks were tried to tighten the area around the skin ( a metal ring, elastics, scotch tape...) but the most effective one was a scooter’s inner tube, open on the area to be marked.
To suceed, everything had to be precise and calculated. Here is a step by step on how to transform a 3D printer or CNC into a tattoo machine.
- Measure your equipment and create (3D print) an adaptor to fix it instead of the 3D printer’s extruder.
- Install your tatoo tool so that it won't move at all. You don’t want it to vibrate during the print.
- Mark the center of the build platform.
- Make your drawing in a 3D software if you are using a three axis machine. Give it a minimum thickness of 0,2mm. Try to have only outlines. The trick won't work to fill surfaces… for the moment.
- Import your drawing in the 3D printing software.
-Measure the lenght between the platorm and the top of the arm you want to tattoo. Then insert the number in the 3D printing software to put the drawing at the good hight. Some 3D printer softwares will automatically put back the drawing to the build plate level. In this case, just create a 0,2x0,2mm cube under your drawing and give it the distance you want. The printer will then adjust its height automatically (since the file’s bottom will be at the good distance).
-You may want to adjust the tension on the skin so your circle wont look oval after removing the rubber. Use a stencil to draw a circle on the skin. Then use the inner tube to give the skin some tension, keeping it stretched uniformly.
-Some 3D printers initialize their XYZ axis by bumping into small sensors, usually at one end of each axis. Since you removed the extruder, you might need to create a small piece wich will make the contact between your new tool and the sensors.
- Make sure to sterilize every single element and tools that might be in contact with the human skin.
- Fill your needle with tattoo ink
- Send the drawing to print and pause the machine once it get’s to it’s measured hight.
- Place the “volunter’s” arm in the Automatic Tatoo machine and make sure that it’s perfectly centered. Start the motor, cross your fingers and… GO!
- If the skin tension and needle hight was measured correctly, every thing should go fine.
This experiment was made under the supervision of Tattoo experts.
For more questions about how this was made, on what is next and on how you can help, please contact the group leader : Pierre Emm at : firstname.lastname@example.org
Video, episode 1