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3D printers can create anything theses days from pancakes and full-scale homes to functional human tissue and someday soon – actual working human organs. But now a new market has put their stamp on the 3D world – the tattoo industry. A recent 3D tattoo design, posted on Facebook this past March, has taken millions (30 million actually) by storm. However, another creation in this market could trump the human designed 3D tat – the invention of a 3D tattoo printer.

Before engaging in the classic Man Vs Machine debate, let’s take a look at UK tattoo artist Tony Booth’s latest 3D cyborg sensation.

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Photo: Tony Booth

Tony Booth, tattoo artist and owner of Dabs Tattoo in Southport, England, posted his 3D tattoo creation on Facebook where it quickly went viral and caught the attention of 30 million viewers (so far). With its surrealistic geometric tile work crafted and multi-layered to resemble a futuristic cyborg arm straight out of a Terminator movie, we can see why this post caught the attention of millions.

 

Tony Booth’s wife, and co-owner of Dabs Tattoo, Lisa told CNET, “The entire tattoo took 18 months to finish. The client and Tony came up with the concept between them and it grew from an upper arm sleeve to a full sleeve and then it carried on to his hand, shoulder and upper chest.”

The process of creating the illusion was just as interesting as the tattoo itself. Booth blacked out most of the client’s arm and then tattooed over it with lighter ink to get the three- dimensional effect he was aiming for. This process was the reason for the year and a half timeline.

 

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Photo: Tony Booth – the 3D tattoo process

The ink-slinger himself couldn’t believe the response to his artwork and stated on his Facebook page, “Well this has certainly been a very interesting couple of days and this is a massive thing for us – the video we shared has reached millions of people on our page.” Tony Booth’s tattoo went onto to win “Best Blackwork Tattoo” at the Tattoo Tea Party convention in Manchester, UK.

Man Vs. 3D Tattoo Machine

Tattoo design began as far back as 5200 B.C., and as demonstrated by Tony Booth’s amazing cyborg artwork – nothing can replace a tattoo artist’s vision, skill, and mastery – or can it? 3 students, Piotr, Pierre, and Johan, of Paris-based design school ENSCI-Les ateliers came up with the idea of a 3D tattoo printer during an 8-hour workshop. Their reason? According to the blog Tattoodo, they are excited to be:

“Bringing a new tool to tattooists”, they answer. “We have had very positive feedbacks from the tattoo industry and we are happy to contribute, even modestly, to the history of tattoo.”

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Photo: tattoodo.com – the 3D Printer X Tattoo Machine

How does it work? Simply replace the 3D printer’s nozzles with a tattoo machine. However, it’s not as easy as it sounds as technical skills are needed to work the machine and several trials must be conducted before using the machine on humans. And for those reasons, the three students are running many, many trials. The latest model, the 3D Printer X Tattoo Machine/EP 08, can be viewed on the student’s website Appropriate Audiences. Here’s a clip:

The idea of 3D tattoo printing sounds intriguing and after watching the video, we see it can be done. This device could be a great addition for tattoo artists to use, but how far can it really go? What about the ability to stretch the skin in increments – as some parts of skin needs more stretching than others, or how about shading the tattoo correctly? This is where human skills like judgement and artistry come into play and 3D printers may never be able to compete with that – or will they? Only time and advanced technology will tell. Until then, here are some more sick-looking 3D tattoos (created by talented humans) we found to blow your mind – compliments of Boredpanda.com. Enjoy!

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