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30 Different Popular Kinds of Tattoo Guns for Artists

tattoo gun

Getting an inking in most cases involves using a tattoo gun, also called a tattoo machine. Tattoo artists use this device to create most various inkings on your skin.

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tattoo gun

tattoo gun

tattoo gun

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What is a tattoo gun?

A tattoo gun is a handheld device typically used in creating inkings or a permanent marking on the skin usually with an indelible ink. Modern machines have electromagnetic coils which move an armature bar up-and-down.

tattoo gun

There is also a barred needle grouping connected to the armature bar and its purpose is to push the indelible ink into the human skin. Tattoo artists refer to the tattoo gun as a machine or even as an iron.

The usage of the word “gun” is high although most professionals do not like it. In addition to the coiled ones, there are rotary tattoo machines powered by regulated motors, not electromagnetic coils.

tattoo gun

tattoo gun


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Who is the inventor?

Interestingly enough, Thomas Edison (the light bulb man) invented the tattoo machine. This device was patented in USA in the year 1876 but at that time as an autographic printer. Later in 1891, Samuel O’ Reily added the needle system and a tube to form the tattooing gun.

tattoo gun

tattoo gun

tattoo gun

This was not the first time a society had found a better use for one of Edison’s inventions which he had not intended at first. It is doubtful that he had envisioned people using the printer to create inkings on their bodies or a variation of his invention would remain in use for a very long time.

tattoo gun

tattoo gun


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Different types of tattoo machines

There are several types of tattoo guns. The most common are shaders and liners from the technical viewpoint. On the mechanical viewpoint, there are coil machines also called pneumatic, and the rotary or the linear ones.

tattoo gun

  • The rotary tattoo machine

This is the original device based on the rotary technology invented by Samuel O’ Reily. It uses an electric motor to drive the needles. The most recent upgrades on this device include an armature bar to make it more effective which is a coil machine feature.

tattoo gun

tattoo gun

tattoo gun

  • Coil machine

This is the most common type of these devices. To keep the needle groupings moving, it uses an electromagnetic circuit. The device comes in many types which include the single coiled machine and triple coil machine.

tattoo gun

Furthermore, the manufacturers make these devices from various materials and in many different shapes and sizes. The dual coiled machines are the standard and their coils generally range between 8 and 10 wraps.

These coils create the resistance or the impedance which regulates the power and speed of the gun. This leads to reduced trauma of the skin.

tattoo gun


  • Liner tattoo guns

The primary purpose of the liner machine is to lay the indelible ink in a single pass to make a dominant line. This device uses a short contact circuit which is about 1.5mm to 2mm. This makes the device’s cycles faster.

tattoo gun

tattoo gun

tattoo gun

  • The shader tattoo machine

Artists commonly use the shader machine to shade black or black ink variants. Further, they can also use other colors apart from black with this type of device. The machine has a very low saturation level and the contact gap it uses is larger than that of a liner.

tattoo gun

tattoo gun

It is 2mm to 3.5 mm and this makes the cycles slower. In addition, artists use this machine to sculpt lines. The machine does not cause lots of trauma to the skin and allows lines retracing and therefore artists extensively use it.

tattoo gun

  • Pneumatic tattoo machine

An air compressor powers this pneumatic tattoo machine and it is also very light as compared to the others. The gun uses compressed air to move the machine needles up and down. Unlike the traditional guns, this machine is fully autoclavable.

The artist can place it in an autoclave and sterilize it fully without having to disassemble it.

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How does this gun work?

The gun utilizes electromagnetic coils, which move the equipment needle up and down. The needle drives the ink or pigment into the human skin. This needle moves up and down at a rate between 80 and 150 times in a second.

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This allows the artist to penetrate the ink into his skin without having to move his hand. Some tattoo machines are able to control the depth of the needle to any degree and an artist uses different needles depending on the kind of inking he is making.

Furthermore, the artist uses a foot pedal to get most of the needle variations.

tattoo gun

All tattoos have to get into the skin lower layer also called the dermis layer and should not get into the fat layer of the skin. Therefore, the gun should penetrate the scaly layer and the epidermis layer and drop the ink within the dermis layer.

This needle makes lots of small holes in the skin and deposits the ink into them. This ink fades out of the skins dermis layer and you should have your skin refreshed from time to time.

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Will tattooing hurt?

Being on the tattoo gun receiving end can be painful but reports vary on how much pain you might experience. The pain level highly depends on the artist’s skill, your pain threshold and the exact point of your body the artist is applying the tattoo.

There are some people who refer to the pain as similar to what you may experience after being stung by a hornet severely or receiving multiple injections which is exactly what the artist will do to make a tattoo. There are others who may describe this feeling as a very strong tingling sensation.

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Tattoo parlor cleanliness

Cleaning the inking equipment especially the gun in an autoclave is very important. The artist should use new needles, masks and gloves for every new user. You should therefore ensure that the artist unwraps them in front of you.

If you miss an autoclave within the premises or the equipment seems to have some spots, it is advisable you go to another place to get your inking.

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Use of a dirty needle is similar to sharing a hypodermic needle with another individual a situation that can influence the spread of blood borne illnesses and diseases like HIV.

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Construction of a tattoo gun

There are various ways of making a tattoo gun. You can also find the instructions on how to construct it in the Internet. However, purchasing a tattoo machine from a very reputable supplier is recommendable in all of the cases.

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You can also learn on how to construct the gun from a person who has already made a working model. Start by talking to an artist in a tattoo parlor.

You can learn even more information on the topic by studying the Wikipedia article about tattoo guns: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tattoo_machine

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