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Priya Gohil

Get Inked, Then Rinse and Repeat

Instant inkjet portable printer means no more embarrassing tattoos

Jan 20, 2023 10:06:33 AM


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While most of us were nursing our post-New Year’s Eve hangovers and trying to stick faithfully to our pledges for 2023, one of the biggest consumer tech shows rolled into Las Vegas. While strictly not in my wheelhouse, I did keep a beady eye out on news coming out of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2023. I mean, who isn’t intrigued by a glut of futuristic gadgets, apps, and innovations on display—with Sin City being the perfect backdrop to this seductive glitzy five-day carnival of tech.


Speaking of being seduced, there’s something about the aging process which emboldens people to try new things. Take tattoos, for example. I have some and I’m considering adding another one this year. Truman Capote clearly was not a fan, making the acerbic observation that “there’s something terribly flawed about people who are tattooed.” And yet, the allure is potent for us flawed folk. Tattoos aren’t just for lean sports stars and youthful thrill seekers; senior citizens are going for it, too—just look at Dame Judy Dench, or Sir Ian McKellen sporting his Lord of the Rings inked memento. But what about those who want one but hate the commitment of permanent ink?


Step forward Prinker Korea Inc. This “inkspired” startup announced the solution all the way back at CES 2021. Touted as the world’s first comprehensive temporary handheld tattoo device, Prinker S makes the creation and application of temporary tattoos quick and easy. The concept is beautifully simple: Prinker S connects via Bluetooth to your mobile device from which you can pick a tattoo from a vast library of over 11,000 designs or you can customise, create, or upload your own tattoo on the Prinker app.


Once you have settled on your design, it’s sent directly to the Prinker S ready to be applied to skin. As the tattoo sits on top of your skin, there are a few sprays of primer lotion applied first to stop the ink from being absorbed while the machine prepares itself. Then Prinker S’s screen indicates the direction in which you should swipe to apply the tattoo. Press the button, slide the device over your chosen area, and it’s done…leaving you to revel in your new body art for up to two days.


According to the company, its proprietary cosmetic inks are water-resistant but can easily be removed with soap and water. The inks are also compliant with US FDA Voluntary Cosmetic Registration Program (VCRP) and EU Cosmetic Product Notification Portal (CPNP) safety standards. The cartridges hold enough ink to print up to 1,000 temporary tattoos.


More recently (and named a CES 2022 Innovation Awards Honoree), Prinker M has been added to the product line. Whereas the heftier Prinker S offers a pure black cartridge for richer blacks, prints wider (by 4 mm) designs, and should appeal to more professional users, Prinker M is more compact, intended for personal use, and enables you to print on both skin and paper.


A Tale of Two Prinkers: Composite black tattoo
(right, Prinker M) and pure black (left, Prinker S).


Keypoint Intelligence Opinion

Who doesn’t like this? To me, the Prinker temporary tattoo printer looks to be a brilliant, fun party gadget, and it offers plenty of creative potential. Plus, it satisfies anyone who likes the idea of tattoos, but not the idea of having one forever. That said, I’m sticking with the more traditional route for my next piece!


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