Tag Archives: printer

Writing prompt: the tissue printer

Time: 8 minutes. Click here to go to my list of prompts.

“The printer”

I loaded the file into the printer and made sure all the print cartridges were full—nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, carbon… Carbon and hydrogen always went fast, but the cartridge was no bigger than nitrogen or oxygen. The traces array was full enough too. I didn’t want this print-out to pause mid printing, it wasn’t good for the creatures. I made sure the enzyme and synthesis units were at operating temperature and weren’t gumming up. Once I had printed an entire miniature penguin only to find it dead, with damage to the proteins. That’s an expensive mistake.

This time I was printing a fairy. I had slaved for hours on the design, making sure that the wings were sufficiently large to support a creature of the size while still looking appropriate. I borrowed the digestion from a hummingbird, and the wings from extinct, enormous species of dragonflies. She would be six inches tall, beautiful and the color of caramel. I had hoped to start with the colors of the rainbow, but I was worried that yellow might end up looking jaundiced, and I wanted this first one to work. I could sell her to a fantasy novelist for a pretty penny, but it would go better if she was alive and beautiful.

I did a last check on the equipment and hit the go switch. The enzyme cartridge came to life, and soon the print head started on the internal organs, the template spinning around, allowing different angles. With these things, the sequence was also important.

I sat nervously on my stool, while the print head flew around, filling in muscle here and connective fiber there. Several hours passed, and I could see a tiny heart. I couldn’t be more nervous if my (hypothetical) wife were giving birth.

Getting creative with a printer

Last year I got a medium format pigment printer (epson r2000). With research, you can get a decent deal on these kinds of printers. I purchased mine for $300 (with rebate) while it now lists for $550 (but remember, the ink is always a swindle). If you know how to use color profiles and tune your screen’s color, these printers can be a ton of fun. Printing photos was the main motivation for my purchase, but the other less expected uses have been equally exciting.

Watercolor painting and pigment printing

Pigment inks are waterproof after they dry. Long ago I learned the hard way that normal ink jets are not waterproof. This feature of pigment inks has helped my watercolor process immensely. Now I can do line art on low quality paper. Then I scan the line art in and I can digitally fix it. This can mean a number of things: I can remove a badly placed stroke, or I can rearranged items in space. For the Zish and Argo stories, I did preliminary line art, and moved things to satisfy the needs of the page layout.

Once the line art is optimized, then I can print to the expensive watercolor paper. I probably only use half of my preliminary line art, which is an awful waste of premium watercolor paper. But now I can be efficient. Printing line art is additionally attractive because it uses little ink. Additionally, I can print several copies, and have several chances to get my work just right. I did the featured image art using this procedure.

Printing on fun materials

The printer can also print to some fun surfaces. It can print to basically anything you feed through it, like poster board, wood, foam board, canvas, or other sufficiently heavy fabric. Obviously, it can also print to any sturdy paper as well (I print frequently to drawing and watercolor paper).

I recently did my first project printing to canvas. I then used this canvas to cover a book, shown below. This canvas is also designed to stretch over a frame like any canvas.

Any additional ideas on creative printing? There’s nothing better than using a tool on hand in a different way.