Prinker’s awesome tattoo printer inks you instantly, but not forever

This story is part of our continuing coverage of CES 2020, including tech and gadgets from the showroom floor.

One quick swipe is all it takes for the Prinker S tattoo printer to ink you up. You’re all done in less than a few seconds, with no sitting in front of an imposing tattooist with a needle while you question whether you should really get a tattoo at all. Best of all, it’s just as quick and easy to remove the Prinker tattoo, so if you feel a wave of regret, then it’s a mistake that’s quickly rectified.

I had a Prinker tattoo applied to my skin, as well as a go at doing it myself. The machine is connected by Bluetooth to your phone, where you can choose a predesigned tattoo, design your own in the app, or upload an image to create your tattoo. You can get really creative too. Outside of making your own images, it’s possible to combine designs for more intricate tattoos. I got the impression the Prinker S would be a lot of fun for artists.

Choosing and printing

Once you’ve decided on your design, it’s sent directly to the machine, and you’re ready to go. First, there are a few sprays of primer lotion while the machine prepares itself, then a small screen indicates the direction in which you should swipe to apply the tattoo. Press the button, slide the Prinker S over your chosen area, and it’s done. The Prinker S representative who applied mine was an expert, and it looked great.

The finished result may be temporary but only upon close examination would you know it wasn’t permanent. The cosmetic ink it uses sits on top of your skin — a primer is sprayed on first to stop it from being absorbed — and is Food and Drug Administration approved. It’s also suitable for almost your entire body, apart from the areas where you probably shouldn’t be putting any tattoo, like your eyelids or more intimate spots. The ink is tried-and-tested, and the Prinker hardware itself is adapted from handheld inkjet printers that have been around for years. It’s established tech that’s beeenrepurposed in a fun way.

When I applied a tattoo myself, I was advised that it doesn’t require any pressur, just a steady swipe across the skin. I didn’t realize just how light the pressure should be, which resulted in a smudge at the end. By using a normal wet wipe straightaway, my clumsy work was immediately erased. The only thing you lose during any practice is ink from the cartridge. The Prinker S comes with enough ink for about 1,000 tattoos, so it’s not really something to worry about.

Temporary, but worth it

The tattoo applied by the Prinker team remained on my arm for the rest of the day and night, and was still there in the morning without any noticeable reduction in color. Splashes of water didn’t really seem to affect it, but the moment it came into contact with soap in the shower, it was gone forever. If I didn’t wash the spot, I’m sure it would have stayed in place for at least another day.

The Prinker S temporary tattoo printer is fun and unusual, works really well, and satisfies anyone who likes the idea of a tattoo, but not the idea of having one forever. It’s easy to use, and has plenty of creative potential too. You can buy one from Prinker now for $270, which includesh a black ink cartridge and the skin primer spray. A black refill cartridge costs $100 and a color one $150.

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