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29 May 2013

Is that label maker of yours just not turning your crank anymore? Well, if you’re willing to do a little more fiddling around, you might be interested in Tag on That. Billed as “the world's first affordable Specialty Printer Machine,” the portable device utilizes the same principles as industrial-scale machines, to print words or images on just about any object that you can fit inside of it.

The user starts with a stencil-like plastic template of their image, that they can either order through the Tag on That website, or make themselves if they’ve also purchased the separate template-making machine.

Next, they fill a supplied capsule with a Tag on That ink of their choice – different ink types are used for printing on different surfaces. That capsule is loaded into the printer, and then mechanically slid back and forth across the template. A layer of ink remains in the template only where the plastic has been removed.

When the user subsequently pulls down on the arm of the machine, it causes a soft rubber stamp head to press down onto the template, causing the ink to be transferred from the one to the other. The arm is raised, the template is slid out and the object-to-be-printed-on is put in its place, then the arm is lowered down again. As the stamp presses onto the surface of the object, the ink is transferred onto it.

Because the stamp is flexible, it can print on curved or uneven surfaces such as peanuts. You’ve always wanted to monogram your peanuts, right? More practically, though, it could be used to print a company logo on things like golf balls, for promotional purposes. Edible FDA-approved inks are also available, opening up the possibility of printing on food items such as cupcakes.

The designers are currently raising production funds for Tag on That, on Kickstarter. A pledge of US$299 will get you a printer with one color of ink and one custom template, while $599 will also get you a template maker, three colors of ink, and 10 blank templates.

There’s more information on how the system works, in the video below.


By Ben Coxworth

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