Originating from Ancient India, Henna (also known as Mehndi) is a body art where decorative designs are drawn onto a person’s body using a paste created from the leaves of a henna plant. It is commonly used as an accessory on special occasions such as weddings and holidays. Some of the holidays celebrated with henna are Purim, Diwali, Passover, and various saints’ days.
Where can you get henna tattoos?
Henna has historically been used in the Arabian Peninsula, Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia, Carthage, and North Africa. There are independent henna artists in the United States. However, hiring a henna artist can cost you anywhere upwards of $75/hr.
How will 3D printing affect henna printing?
The application of henna is very demanding. It is traditionally applied by highly skilled artists with a steady hand as once the material is applied, it will stain the skin almost immediately. The tattoos can last up to three weeks without fading. It also relies on the creativity and imagination of the tattoo artist to come up with unique designs.
Today, technology can really help to change all that and the process of 3D printing a tattoo is actually rather simple. The first step is to create a library of preset printable images which can be sourced from open-source design libraries such as Thingiverse. Alternatively, the user can learn simple CAD (computer aided design) tools to create their own designs. In the case of henna printing, designs with the highest extrusion continuity will come out better than designs that require multiple lifts and movement. You will need a bioprinter or paste extrusion printer to print henna. The henna design can be printed on wax paper that is placed on the print bed. Once the print job is completed, the henna print can be applied onto the skin for a minimum of five minutes.
Nearly anyone, even a high school student, can learn how to operate a 3D printer to print a henna tattoo. The barrier in learning new technologies like 3D printing is lowering as an increasing number of resources becomes available. The integration of technology and automation allows the average special events organizer to save in labor costs and increase the productivity. One day, when bioprinters and 3D printers become a common household tool, henna tattoos will no longer be an activity reserved only for special occasions.
What limitations will we find with 3D printing henna?
While 3D printing henna can certainly change the tattooing industry, there will still be a need for traditional henna tattoo artists. Henna printing is currently limited to what users can create on 3D modeling and slicing software. Significant amounts of time and resources are still necessary to create a huge repository of printable henna designs. . However, with enough time and growing interest in the henna printing industry, computer algorithms can be written to generate intricate geometric patterns. This would eventually result in a virtually limitless library of designs to choose from.
Henna printing is restricted by the size of the print bed. It can also be challenging to transfer a 2D design onto a 3D surface such an arm. At the moment, it is more efficient for complicated designs that encompass a large surface area to be drawn by freehand artists. In the near future, the combination of 3D scanning, 3D printing and real-time sensing technology could allow for any tattoo design to be directly printed onto the human body.
Rather than removing tradition, 3D printing could enhance the experience. Henna printing could help large scale events and work alongside traditional henna artists by printing simpler patterns, thereby reducing long wait lines for a henna tattoo. While henna printing is still in very early stages, SE3D has initiated the movement by using our very own 3D bioprinter to print henna tattoos for a local Diwali event in Santa Clara. We believe this is something that will slowly “grow on us” with time.