Laser Tattoo

We’re amazed we didn’t stumble across this ill advised burnination sooner. Earlier in the week [tetranitrate], of LED chess set fame, posted his experiences using a laser cutter to scarify his own skin. It’s very painful, not to mention the discomfort of smelling your own burning flesh. He’s using an Epilog with a magnet over the safety switch. To get the positioning right, a layer of painters tape was put down and then etched. For a less painful version, you could try Bre’s fingernail calendar from last Fall. Video of multiple tattoos embedded after the break.

[via ModBlog]

47 thoughts on “Laser Tattoo

  1. that is so fantastically ridiculous and dangerous… not that the laser is terribly dangerous; more for the incredibly fast print head. the video reminds me of “Starship Troopers”, i love it. it’s probably not deep, i wonder if they heal up after a few months.

    make a small one, get it FDA approved! it’s the wave of the future!

  2. Besides the fact that it is totally stupid, (dunno why im thinking about cordless drill piercings while watching this) electric circuit board tatoo would look quite interesting

  3. O M G thts the f***in best idea ever … ever !!
    hmmm tht is soo tempting t do, my friend owns one of these marvelous contraptions, i think i may b paying him a visit ! lol … FREE TATOOS !!!!
    ill let u no how it goes !! :S hopefully my hand will still exist ! … rephrase … hopefully my hand will still be on my arm !!!!!!!!

  4. who is crazy enough to burn pictures like these shown here into their skin without being tremendously sure about whether they lasted only a few weeks…

    I’d surely not like to spend the rest of my life with that instructables-robot on my arm…

    on the other hand, if it only lasts short, it could be a funny alternative, (with the right cooling), it surely looks way more alien than ink-tattoos…

  5. why would the FDA have to approve it? a laser cutter or a tattoo gun is not a food item or a drug and thus does not have to be regulated through the FDA. I may be wrong but i am fairly sure that i am not. Unless somebody can show otherwise.

    I think thats a great idea. I have a tattoo and planing to get more in the future. I think that this would be fun to at least try once.

  6. It works like suntan lotion ; not so much but same idea .

    You put the lotion on and bake in the sun ; now you
    got a outline of what you made . go’s away in a few months

    laser tattoo work in the same way
    it burns your skin with 2nd degree burns
    after a like 3-6 months it gos away .
    skin heals it self and the old flakes off
    ; NOW if you use ink while you do it your looking
    at 9 months to 1 1/2 years till it fades .
    long term usage of inks IS bad for you .
    The ink was NOT made for humans and contains
    harmful poisons

  7. I don’t really think that can cause you cancer, that isn’t due exposure to UVR?

    Well, i already have burned several times with tips of solders and others things… and is not really forever.

    Really cool.. just… meaby to painful XD.

  8. @henderson

    I’m not sure this is the same sort of thing. The mechanism by which skin tans, and the process by which it burns are probably very different, ie, i don’t think a tan is just a light burn. Your probably right about how long the scar will last, though that might vary quite a bit, depending on the depth of the burn.

  9. Anyone who works with lasers has done this on purpose or accident. I have worked with lasers for years and when we are bored we will burn a design or two on our hands.
    it only burns the epidermis layer of skin on the hand if the power settings are correct. Depending on the depth of the burn, it can last for a few days to a week.

  10. i think its a perfect solution to not using a needle.
    one less step in possible introduction to contamination.
    and besides, remember the movie “STARSHIP TROOPERS” ?
    They got Laser Tats while on shore leave !!!

    Dude, If you could create a complete sterile environment that would give you a Laser Tat. You could make a fortune !!! Strap the body part(arm or leg) down and introduce a positive air environment AND then utilize some sort of harmless natural pigment into the mix.

    And I too believe the FDA would not have jurisdiction on this. But you know lawyers are biting at the bit on this one.

  11. i’m Q branch from instructables. it’s a neat project, someone always has to be the first to try new things, some work, some don’t. this idea may actually have commercial use though. unlike the sewing machine tattoo that someone suggested and that i tried. sorta bent the needle when it hit bone, and removing the thread was the worst. don’t do this, i only did it because tetranitrate didn’t do it.

  12. it would only cause skin cancer f it was in the UV spectrum, this is a Co2 laser, and puts out IR light. will make you go blind, and a stronger laser might kill you if something goes wrong, or might at least cut off your hand.

  13. It CAN produce cancer because it’s a burn. No matter the type of laser, if you DESTROY the protection against UV (from sunlight, not the laser itself), exposed BURNED AND THEREFORE UNPROTECTED skin absorbs the UV, even in cloudy days. Why I know this? Because a friend had severe electrical burns, and the doctor ORDERED him to use very high factor sun protection AND DO NOT sunbath in a year. This, after the burned skin were apparently healed. And, amateurish use of industrial lasers can too easily burn something more than the three existing skin capes. Just think of the recent incident in Russia, they damaged PERMANENTLY the eyes of 30 youngsters in a party with a RECREATIVE laser. But hey, if it looks cool, what’s the matter if the arm drops by itself in a couple years?

  14. Yes this could lead to skin cancer. Anything that damages cells and causes them to need to regenerate could possibly lead to cancer. Even when your cells are slowly dying naturally this can lead to cancer, although it isn’t as likely. Damaging your skin like this will lead to more cells needing to be produced and a higher chance of caner simply because there are more chances. Think of each cell as a chance, and with this while you might not be increasing the percentage chance on a cell by cell basis (what most carcinogens do) it is giving it more opportunities to happen.

  15. to jarhead jay. any products that emit electromagnetic radiation are regulated by the fda including things like tv’s(crt types), dvd/cd drives, wireless routers, etc.. and yes, lasers too :)

  16. @ jebedia
    You are confusing the FDA and the FCC (federal communications commission) which regulates all things radio and such.

    Crazy idea, laser tattoo. Welcome to the 21st centure !

  17. Hi i’m a medical engineer, and i have some experience on the use of medical lasers. So i would like to make some comments.

    First the amount of damage that a laser does on the skin depends on the wavelength of the laser and its power output.

    Second the type of damage is first-second-third degree burn and can get up to evaporation of tissue.

    Third what you see at the picture is probably a second degree burn with evaporation of the skin surface cells. Whether it will leave a scar depends on the power output of the laser that the guy used i.e how deep the radiation got. If the damage is too deep the skin healing process creates scar tissue.

    fourth whether the guy will get skin cancer depends on the laser wavelength AND how many times he will repeat the process on the same area.

    (sorry for my bad English)

  18. last night i dreamt that i got a laser tattoo that would fade after a while, only i got it 3 or 4 times in the same spot and then developed cancer.

    the reason for the cancer was because of the laser combined with burning of skin. and somehow it was connected to nintendo wii.

    ooo, it’s a prophecy!

  19. Someone needs to get that underage kid into a mental hospital. There are actual laser tattoo machines. Why did this child do this? Where are his parents/guardian(s)/childsitter(s)? That is frickin ridiculous.

  20. I bet one day tattos will be created with laser and they will burn the color on :) i think there would less risks assosiated with needles if lasers where used instead. I would not burn a tattoo on myself but if i had that type of laser and i cut myself on something i would use the laser too seal the cut.

  21. I’m in the midst of perfecting this method using home-made lasers “Yes i build burning lasers all the way from 50mW green to 12x blu-ray burning lasers” may have a submission soon ^_^ Rock-on all you brave laser tatted hackers! im working on sleeving my arm up, and from what i have experienced with “testing” lasers on the back of my hand… the scars are STILL completely visible 11 months after the burn “with my first 8x blu-ray build” check out LaserPointerForums for a bit more info on lasers if your interested. need info quick? or a laser build (Handheld of course!) e-mail me at



  22. To Jebadia – The FDA regulates the living HECK out of handheld lasers (My Expertise) it’s quite annoying, the trick is (if your shipping/selling/transporting a laser OVER 5mW “wich isnt much at all” ) you need to slightly diss-assemble it. most handheld lasers have a tail-cap, such as the LED flashlights we mod and make heatsinks for in order to make the smallest/most powerfull handheld lasers available to the public. this tailcap can be removed to EFFECTIVLY render it an INCOMPLETE unit, thus bypassing certain FDA regulations (wich are quite foolish, but i understand… we dont need the next osama to get ahold of severe laser tech…)but your very right, the FDA goes nuts over lasers now, ecspecially in the last year, makes it hard to ship my “complete” laser builds to non-US countries.

    Hack-A-Day for LYF3!

  23. Yeah, I accidentally scarred a finger before now (hint:- CCFL inverters can sometimes arc from the *ground* pin) which leaves a painful 1mm diameter burn that takes weeks to heal.

    Last time I checked lasers can burn deep into the skin and do much more damage than you would expect from the visible injury.

    use with caution!

    (Hint:- most inks heat up with laser exposure so you might be advised not to use them)

  24. I should probably say i DO NOT recommend anyone do this unless they are willing to accept the risks, YES, a laser tat can be VERY crudely done with a steady hand and a focusable Blu-Ray laser (blu-ray 405nm light burns best) at least its the most affordable burning type diode, it would only take about a 6x diode (ordered from me, or torn from a 6x blu-ray drive) to achieve about 200-220mw’s with a flexdriver/RKCSTR driver to power the diode in a cheap Aixiz module with a focusing ring (must be focusable, the beam can be shaped down to a micro pinpoint with the right lens, even an acrylic lens will technicly work) though your “tat” will look like a Steve-O inspired tattoo lol. (anyone remember offroad tattoo from Jackass?) ^_^

    Also, it is thought that the ultra-violet light emitted by blu-ray diodes CAN be harmful with repeated exposure to the skin, im not sure if you can get cancer or anything, but im preeeetty sure it isnt GOOD for your skin… looks cool though :) think i’ll give myself a hackaday brand when i get a free minuet, ATM im working on modifying a Cyanogen 5.0.7 Android 2.1 test build to run correctly on my mothers strange HTC Hero… it doesnt act like any other heroes i’ve hacked… sorry.. tangent.

    Anyways be safe people!!! Dont even play with lasers without the correct wavelength-filtering protection shades/goggles, more so… dont try and tattoo yourself unless you know what your doing… i’ve seen some idiot friends try this with a “so called” steady hand X-Y set-up… horror storries, one even got infected, all blistery and crap, he was moving the laser too slow, so it burned quite deep. I warned him…lol
    It still eludes me as to how he took the pain so well (only winced a little, i was there) lol


  25. ^^^ HAHA!!! thats comedy, i’d take a nasty scar (or a hackaday logo) over an instructables logo (not that their bad, just cant really rock out that logo…)

    sooo… Hackaday.. i’ll laser my back witha giant Hday logo for some royalties ^_^ jk, i;d do it for free! 9a t-shirt would be cool though) lol

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