Feeling brave? How about getting a tattoo? How about getting a tattoo from a 3D printer?

That's not as ridiculous as it sounds, as a group of students from the ENSCI-Les Ateliers design school in Paris has shown. Armed with some inspiration and a MakerBot 3D printer, they swapped the extruder for a pen to see if the hardware could be used to ink up someone's arm.

After writing a bunch of software, initial experiments with ink and simulated skin proved successful. So they did what any sane adult would do, and modified the printer further to create real tattoos on real skin. Amazingly, they found a "lot of people" who were "excited by the idea of being the first human tattooed by a 'robot'."

There are obviously difficulties, chief among them keeping the skin taut and flat during the procedure. And the printer can't create the intricate works of most tattoos—it's limited to simple geometric outlines like circles—but it can, and does, create permanent tattoos on real human flesh. So, it's no replacement for a professional tattoo artist, and it's certainly only for the brave. But would you give it a try? [Instructables via New Scientist]