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Information & Guides

Purchasing your First Tattoo Machine

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Last Update on September 20th 2023 By TPS

Tattoo machines are the backbone of any tattoo artist's toolkit. The tattoo beginner, aspiring artists and enthusiasts alike need to understand the nuances of these machines to make the best choice for their needs when looking for their first tattoo machine. This comprehensive guide provides an in-depth look at the different types of tattoo machines, their components, and the factors to consider when choosing the perfect one for your first tattoo machine. By the end of this guide, you'll be well-equipped to select a your first tattoo machine that complements your artistic style and enhances your tattooing journey.

Key items to consider when purchasing your first tattoo machine

1. What are Tattoo Machines

Tattoo machines, also known as tattoo guns, are devices used to create tattoos by injecting ink into the skin. They work on electromagnetic principles, converting electrical energy into mechanical motion. Understanding the two primary types of tattoo machines - coil and rotary - is essential.

Tip: Consider experimenting with both types to find the one that feels most comfortable and natural to you for your first tattoo machine. This will be the first of many so don't get to hung up by it.

2. Types of Tattoo Machines

Rotary Tattoo Machine

Mechanism: Rotary machines use a rotating motor to create a smooth up-and-down motion of the needle. This mechanism is forgiving and ideal for detailed work.

Noise and Vibration: Rotary machines are relatively quiet and produce minimal vibration, ensuring a comfortable experience for both the artist and the client.

Weight and Size: They are generally lightweight and compact, making them easy to handle and convenient for traveling.

Versatility: Rotary machines are versatile and can be used for various tattooing styles, including lining, shading, and coloring.

Maintenance: They require less maintenance due to their simpler design and fewer moving parts.

Coil Tattoo Machine

Mechanism: Coil machines use electromagnetic coils to create a powerful, rapid needle movement, offering precision and solid lines.

Noise and Vibration: They are louder and produce noticeable vibrations, which some artists and clients may find less comfortable.

Weight and Size: Coil machines are often heavier and bulkier, providing a substantial feel during tattooing.

Versatility: They are often specialized for specific tasks, like lining or shading, and artists may use different machines for different aspects of a tattoo.

Maintenance: Coil machines may require more frequent maintenance due to their intricate coil and spring systems.

Tip: Test various coil and rotary machines to identify which type aligns better with your tattooing style and comfort level. As your first tattoo machine, tattoo beginners are recommended to start with a rotary machine as these are simpler to use.

3. Tattoo Machine Components

A tattoo machine consists of several critical components, including the frame, coils, armature bar, springs, contact screws, and needle bar. Each component plays a unique role in the tattooing process.

Tip: Familiarize yourself with each component and its function. Its good practice with your first tattoo machine and all subsequent ones, to learn how to disassemble and reassemble the machine for cleaning and maintenance. Wrapping your machine needs to occur each time you use it as it stops any cross-contamination that could occur.

4. Choosing the Right Tattoo Machine

Selecting the ideal first tattoo machine depends on factors such as your preferred tattooing style, frequency of use, and personal preferences.

Tip: Seek advice from experienced artists and attend tattoo conventions to try different machines. Avoid purchasing a machine solely based on its popularity; with your first tattoo machines its a good practices to prioritize its suitability for your unique needs. Full range of tattoo machines can be found here and our tattoo beginner kits here.

5. Tattoo Machine Brands and Models

Reputable tattoo machine brands often have a range of models suited for different skill levels and budgets for your first tattoo gun. For the tattoo beginner looking to purchase their first tattoo machine, several brands and models offer affordable and user-friendly tattoo machines. Brands like Hawkin, Dragonhawk, CNC, and Wormhole are popular choices. Hawkin tattoo machines often come with simple and easy-to-adjust settings, making them suitable for those new to tattooing. Dragonhawk, on the other hand, is known for its budget-friendly rotary machines that are lightweight and easy to handle. CNC machines are favored for their durability and consistent performance, making them ideal for beginners looking for reliability. Wormhole offers beginner-friendly pen-style machines that are easy to control and comfortable to grip, facilitating the learning process. These brands and their respective models provide accessible options for novice tattoo artists looking to purchases their first tattoo machine, allowing you to practice and develop your skills.

Tip: Research customer reviews and ratings for specific models you are considering. Opt for well-established brands known for producing reliable and durable machines. Read our DragonHawk beginner kits review here.

6. Tattoo Machine Maintenance

Maintenance is crucial for keeping your tattoo machine in top shape and something the tattoo beginner will need to learn. Having purchased your first tattoo machine, you need to begin by regularly disassembling and cleaning all the machine components, such as the grip, needles, and tube. Use a mild, non-alcoholic disinfectant to clean these parts thoroughly. Lubricate the moving parts, like the motor and pivot points, with a machine oil designed for tattoo machines. Check the power supply and cords for any signs of wear or damage, and replace them if necessary.

Tip: Develop a regular cleaning routine, lubricate moving parts, and store the machine in a dry and dust-free environment. Be cautious with cleaning agents to avoid damaging the machine.

7. Health and Safety Considerations

A key component to learn after purchasing your first tattoo machine is maintaining proper hygiene for your tattoo machine. It's crucial to ensure the safety and well-being of both you and your clients. Here are essential hygiene tasks that should be performed on a tattoo machine:

Cleaning: After each tattoo session, thoroughly clean the machine using a medical-grade, disinfectant solution. Remove any ink, blood, or tissue residue from the machine's components, including grips, tubes, and the machine body.

Disinfection: Disinfect all reusable parts of the machine by soaking them in an autoclave or ultrasonic cleaner. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for the recommended disinfection process and duration.

Covering: Use disposable barriers or plastic wrap to cover the tattoo machine, cords, and power supply. Change these covers for each client to prevent cross-contamination.

Sterilization: For parts of the machine that come into direct contact with the client's skin, such as grips and tips, ensure they are properly sterilized using an autoclave. Sterilization is vital to eliminate any potential pathogens.

Regular Maintenance: Schedule regular maintenance sessions for your tattoo machine, during which you can disassemble it, clean all components, and perform any necessary repairs. Keep a record of these maintenance sessions.

Disposable Components: Whenever possible, use disposable grips, tips, and needles. These should be discarded after a single use to prevent any risk of contamination.

Proper Storage: Store your tattoo machine and related equipment in a clean, dry, and dust-free environment when not in use. Ensure they are protected from potential contaminants.

Tip: Always wear disposable gloves, use disposable, single-use needles, and dispose of biohazardous waste correctly. Sterilize reusable equipment according to industry guidelines.

8. Tattoo Machine Accessories

Tattoo machine accessories are essential components that complement your first tattoo machine and contribute to a smooth and efficient tattooing process. Accessories such as grips, foot pedals, clip cords, and power supplies can significantly impact your tattooing experience.

Tip: Invest in high-quality accessories compatible with your first tattoo machine. Ergonomic grips and reliable power supplies will enhance your overall performance.


The Final Thought

Selecting the right first tattoo machine is a pivotal step for the tattoo beginner to be successful. By thoroughly understanding the various types, components, and maintenance requirements, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your artistic style and goals. Remember that safety and hygiene are paramount, so never compromise on the quality of your equipment and accessories. With dedication, practice, and a well-suited tattoo machine, you'll be well on your way to becoming a skilled tattoo artist.

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