How Do Tattoo Machines Work? Mechanism Explained

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There are not many things around which are thought to be as trendy, as well as alluring as getting a tattoo. Whether creating a life lesson, a suggestion of a deceased loved one, or just a stylish pattern that lands you praises from the majority of people you see, a tattoo can be an excellent cosmetic addition to your body.

Although most people find out about tattoos and exactly how they look, numerous aren’t as well aware of the machinery as well as tools tattoo artists make use of to make them.

From style to attracting, these talented folks need efficient and also dependable tools that can supply excellent outcomes for all consumers who seek distinct body styles from them.

Below is info regarding tattoo machines that might help to give you a detailed analysis of how tattoos are made.

What Different Types Of Tattoo Machines Exist?

Many tattoo artists utilize one of three different kinds of tattoo machines. Each machines variation has a distinctive way of supplying various methods of tattoos.

The three types are:

Right here is a description and also major function of every one:


Using compression to move the needles, this extensive tattoo machine is highly desired as well as more expensive than other choices.

The chassis itself is light-weight as well as less complicated to control when drawing complex and detailed types of tattoos. It also doesn’t need to be entirely taken apart to clean and disinfect like other types of tattoo machines.

All of these pros make pneumatic tattoo machines a pricey but still valuable piece of equipment which can make the process a lot smoother.


With coil tattoo machines, electrical power funneled by a solenoid (a gadget that transforms electricity right into mechanical power) goes through coils right into magnets which are turned off as well as on.

The needles at the end of this device are kept close to the skin (nearly attached) which restricts one’s capability to manage it as easily like a rotary or pneumatically-driven machine.

To efficiently wield this kind of device a tattoo artist needs to have careful and focused strokes with good hand-eye control. This kind of tattoo machine is usually used for adjusting and also shading. It’s also utilized mostly by tattoo experts that enjoy a challenge.


The rotary tattoo machine is driven by an electric motor that moves the needles vertically to create fantastic designs. This is one of the most popular options for many tattoo artists because of its lightweight efficiency and quiet motor.

The needles move in an even pattern, enabling an easy-to-handle and more accurate experience. These machines also tend to create less skin inflammation on clients.

Related: rotary tattoo machine setup guide

Shader Machine or Liner Machine?

Whether you own a coil, pneumatically-driven, or rotary tattoo machine, they fall into one of two categories. You can either use a liner or a shader.


Tattoo artists who need to make solid lines fast with fewer breaks should use liners. These quick-stroke tools permit designers to form outlines in a brief amount of time without developing a mess that might destroy the tattoo.

There are 2 kinds of liners:

  • Fine Liners – These use fewer needles with thinner diameters.
  • Standard Liners- These use more needles with larger diameters.

A circular pattern is used most often by liners and uses between 1 and 7 needles. Liners are single-purpose as they are used only for developing lines easily.


Gradient-oriented tasks for specific layouts and patterns call for a tattoo machine committed to gray work. Shaders are ideal for etching out big sections of shade and also crafting strong lines.

A shader is stronger than a liner because of the fact that they have a lot more needles. One can’t operate properly without a minimum of 4.

Even though shaders are used for slower and more focused strokes, they are gentler on the skin. The detail and precise nature of these tools require time and delicacy while being wielded.

These machines cause less skin injury.

How Do Tattoo Machines Work?

Tattoo machines are complicated gadgets that need to go through proper maintenance procedures, as well as understanding of mechanical features to successfully run.

Below is a comprehensive overview of how tattoo machines usually work amongst all groups and types.

The Back End

Each machine runs on alternating currents generated by a capacitor and also subsequent coils that comprise the motor. As mentioned above, the coils produce the first stage, and the capacitor creates the second stage, which is sent to the springs, which makes the machine function. The mounted springs use the appropriate quantity of electrical energy to force needles into the person’s skin.

A tattoo artist holds the tattoo machine from the back end.

The Front End

The armature configuration, or needle-filled bar, is connected right on the spring base that remains in motion. The needles run through tubes that are set in a fixed setting while the back-and-forth activity drives ink into the needles and also into the skin at high frequencies.

Various sized needles and also tubes are needed depending on the tattoo that will be done. Larger layouts and also complex lines require various needles than smaller and easier layouts.

What to Consider

There are many differences between tattoo machines. Most modern ones possess the exact same components, yet there are differences in the setup. Here’s a short list of the major differences between gadgets:

How They are Designed.

Exactly how the internal parts moves inside the device.

What maintains the operation (compression, electricity, and so on)?

The Different Buying Variables

Tattoo machines can be bought brand-new, used, or certified refurbished by manufacturers, as well as resellers all over the world.


If you’re on a budget, then you’ll need to make sure that the secondhand machine you buy doesn’t have damage or worn-down inner parts that will trigger even more damage. If the price of the machine is high, keep in mind that you’re more than likely paying for better condition, as well as top quality parts, so you can look at it more as an investment.

When acquiring a reconditioned machine check it face to face at the shop when possible. See to it all items and also components remain in fantastic condition, tidy, risk-free, as well as usable.

Fake Machines

The machines that are most commonly faked are rotary ones. This is due to the fact that these machines can be made at home.

The manufacturing process for these fake machines is carried out by people with little understanding of just how tattoo musicians work. The electric motor has low voltage, and the output of ink is from a tooth brush or pen. The needles are changed using paper clips and a sewing needle attached to them.

Beware when buying a rotary machine and also keep an eye out for these things that typically mean it isn’t genuine.

Online Purchases

Due to the fact that you can’t see the machine before you buy it, make sure to do your homework prior to buying from an online vendor. Speak with an individual over the phone, read testimonials as well as client reviews. To find information about the machine, get different quotes, and buy from a site that offers a certified guarantee for returns and refunds.

Tattoo Kits

There is more to being a tattoo artist than just obtaining a machine. You’ll require maintenance tools, ink, needles, tubes, power result, and also a first aid kit for any accidents.

Create your kit with all of these things in mind and incorporate them into your business expenses.

An important thing to think about is finding a back-up power source that can enable you to work if the main one fails. Another use is to guarantee regular full power for longer tattoo sessions and in-depth designs. The voltage and features need to match the kind of machine you acquire.

Tattoo Artists Preferences

Different artists prefer different machines for different reasons. Below are a few reasons tattooists would opt for a certain machine:

Do they want a challenge while doing tattoos?

Do they like lightweight machines that are simpler to use?

Can their experience give them the ability to use more difficult to manage machines?

Do they have the money to buy a higher-end machine?

Related: top tattoo machine reviews

The Bottom Line

Tattoos are a staple of modern culture that many people like to take part in. Modern artists have a need for modern machines that help them produce the very best layouts possible.

The 3 various kinds of machines:

  • Rotary
  • Coil
  • Pneumatic

There are two separate categories that they fall under:

  • Liners
  • Shaders

Through a complicated mechanism, ink is safely dispersed via the device and embedded into the customer’s skin.

Knowing the choices available and how they work in a tattoo shop is beneficial when getting a tattoo or giving one to your client. It’s also to understand what technique works best for you.