For the most part, printing out an image on an inkjet printer is a pretty mundane task – unless you add fire of course. That's exactly what Lucien Langton, a student at ECAL (Ecole cantonale d'art de Lausanne), did when he built the FireWriter, a handheld printer that burns pictures onto wood with a torch, while an optical sensor keeps track of the image's positioning.

To make the FireWriter, Langton hacked a standard inkjet printer to connect it to an Arduino Uno and attached a set of rollers and hand grips to the sides. Then, for the most important detail, he replaced the print head with a Dremel torch filled with a butane/propane mix that heats up to a scorching 1200 degrees Celsius (2192 Fahrenheit).

After feeding a black-and-white image through a Processing script and sending the resulting code to the Arduino board, the printer begins to burn line by line as a series of dots. A person has to manually move the FireWriter along a flat surface as it prints, but an optical sensor and calibration module ensures each burn is placed in the right spot.

According to Langton, the FireWriter can engrave images onto a variety of surfaces, including wood, paper, plastic, and fabric. The duration, strength, and precision of the burn can be adjusted manually during printing to account for different materials or to change the printed image quality.

Check out the video below to see how the FireWriter burns images onto a wooden "canvas" while somehow managing to not set the whole thing ablaze.

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