Stencil Science: The S8 Stencil Printer

November 16, 2016

It has been a while since we’ve tackled a subject here, mostly because we’ve been so busy getting the S8 Stencil Printer ready for its big debut. Now that it is ready for the big show, its worth talking about what the S8 Stencil Printer actually is, what it can do, and where its going next.

So what exactly is the S8 Stencil Printer? S8 partnered with Brother Mobile Printing to develop a specific variant model of their brand new PocketJet 7 Series for the tattooing space. Over the past year, we have been working with their development team to tune this printer to meet tattooing specifications. Broadly speaking, this is a thermal dot-matrix printer- the print head for the S8 Stencil Printer is a tightly arrayed set of extremely sensitive heating elements that form a grid. Tattoo stencil paper is fed into the printer such that the print head may warm the wax, which transfer onto the topping paper to create an image. The S8 Stencil Printer outputs at 300 dots per inch (DPI).

But speaking in such broad terms misses what makes the S8 Stencil Printer so significant for tattooers. First, we really should highlight that Brother was willing to make substantial changes to the firmware and software of the device to make the S8 Stencil Printer work out of the box. Historically, one of the biggest problems that tattooers using digital thermal printers experienced was the amount of guesswork, fussing, and hardware modifications necessary to make these machines work at all. We were able to address the most common complaints that we have heard and seen first hand, and with Brother’s team develop solutions for those problems.

Second, this is the first time that a digital tattoo stencil printer has offered native support for Apple’s AirPrint. Apple’s AirPrint is a very user-friendly printer protocol which utilizes a Wi-Fi network and comes baked into all Apple mobile devices. However, in order to ensure quality and compatibility, Apple often sets restictions for manufacturers, creating a walled garden. Given the number of tattooers who carry iPhones and work on iPads, we are thrilled to be able to offer a model that is fully and natively compatible with the Apple Ecosystem of products. And because Brother has incorporated Google’s Cloud Print settings on the Wi-Fi model, the Wi-Fi enabled S8 Stencil Printer has cross-over potential when linked to a google account.

Third, we have maintained and expanded the capabilities of both the Bluetooth (Android compatible) and USB wired offerings. All printer models feature USB 2.0 compatibility, meaning that tattooers using a variety of OS on desktop or laptop devices will be able to take advantage of the printer’s full feature set.

Fourth, like previous generations of Brother PocketJet devices, the S8 Stencil Printer can be outfitted with a battery for mobile use. This generation device is the first to feature a lithium ion battery, which offers substantial performance advantages over the nickel metal hydride batteries of the past. With a longer life, greater durability, and more consistent power delivery, the S8 Stencil Printer battery offerings are designed to give traveling tattooers the greatest amount of flexibility in the stencil making.

Fifth, the S8 Stencil Printer represents the cornerstone in a growing list of S8 products that addresses the variety of use cases that tattooers face. While the S8 Stencil Printer currently prints from digitally rendered images, we are currently deep in development on products that will allow tattooers to utilize original hand drawn flash without significant intermediary computing. Our hope is that the S8 Stencil Printer, in conjunction with a handful of other devices and software, will help fill demand for thermofax machines, as well as addressing the needs of the most forward thinking digital artists and tattooers.

Sixth, because of software and hardware tweaks, the S8 Stencil Printer is better able to reproduce half-tones than all other previous models. This is directly applicable to many black and grey tattooers practice, and will be valuable to color realists as well. S8 prioritized this functionality, and with help of Brother’s development team were able to achieve greater capability without the risk of over-exposing a stencil.

We will be talking a little more about the technical details, potential, and future of the S8 Stencil Printer. Next week, we’re going to look into how thermal dot-matrix printers work with S8 RED Stencil paper, and what you can do to ensure you are getting the best stencils with this machine.

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