A UV pulsed laser writing technique to fabricate metal nanoparticle patterns on low-cost substrates is demonstrated. We use this process to directly write nanoparticle gas sensors, which operate via quantum tunnelling of electrons at room temperature across the device. The advantages of this method are no lithography requirements, high precision nanoparticle placement, and room temperature processing in atmospheric conditions. Palladium-based nanoparticle sensors are tested for the detection of water vapor and hydrogen within controlled environmental chambers. The electrical conduction mechanism responsible for the very high sensitivity of the devices is discussed with regard to the interparticle capacitance and the tunnelling resistance.