Do Rotary Tattoo Machines Use Different Needles?

Do Rotary Tattoo Machines Use Different Needles?

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Do Rotary Tattoo Machines Use Different Needles?

In modern times, more people are using tattoos, and the most popular question is; Do rotary tattoo machines use different needles?

Yes. Rotary tattoo machines use different needles that moves faster, have consistent movements and suitable for laying out colors than coil once.The motorized needles grouping in the rotary produces neat output.

In the recent past, rotary tattoo machines have gained unmatched popularity. More and more people are embracing tattoos.

More than ever before, having a tattoo is becoming more fashionable.

The machines’ popularity has been accompanied by their diversity as well. Today, there are many different tattoo machines available.

Among the popular ones are Armature Bar Guided, Direct Drive, Swashdrive, and Linear Action.

From these four comes the core for developing rotaries.

There are many modifications to these main rotaries, which have resulted in many hybrids. One of the hybrids is the famous Dragonfly. 

Handling tattoo machines need a lot of care. As you work on a tattoo machine, utmost care is required in the handling of the machine. When you handle it with care, safety is guaranteed.

Any mistake while handling a rotary tattoo machine may result in serious damage. For instance, consider the rate at which the machine punctures the body.

It does this at a rate of between 50 to 6000 times every minute while performing the tattoo perforations.

Indeed, this is somehow horrible. However, this doesn’t deter people from tattooing themselves.

What Are Tattoo Machines?

Tattoo machines are hand-held devices for making tattoos on the skin.

These devices are mainly used by professional tattoo artists, although it’s not uncommon to see them used in home settings.

The tattooing process involves painting desirable images on the skin using the tattoo machines.

As the machine pierces through the skin, it leaves ink deposits that will act as the shading of the image that was desired.

However, although tattooing may appear as a single task, it’s best to gain a proper understanding of the process before you decide to have a tattoo.

Tattoos are permanent marks, and you don’t want to mess around with one. 

The tattoo machines are run on alternating current. The current comes from a capacitor and coils. The alternating current is first produced by the electromagnetic coils.

The capacitor receives the alternating current and then produces another charged current, making the two springs in the machines work.

These two machines are mounted on the frame base and use the correct amount of current in pushing the needles deep into the skin, and then ink is deposited in the skin.

Do Rotary Tattoo Machines Use Different Needles?

The contact screw is found on the rear part of the machine. You hold the machine from the rear, and you will locate the screw there. The needles are on the front part.

How Do Rotary Tattoo Machines Work?

The working of a rotary tattoo machine is simple. The motorized needles in a rotary tattoo machine are also connected to an ink reservoir.

The motor moves the needles to pierce the skin while depositing ink through the tip of the needles.

Tattoo making is not a new trend. Before the year 1900, people poked their bodies with needles to make tattoos.

Although it was a painful process, people were still excited about it and used it until options became available.

Today, however, modern tattoo machines have been invented. These perform the same task of making tattoos but with lesser harm to the body. They are also more efficient.

When we talk of a tattoo machine, we are talking of motorized needles which connect to an ink reservoir for piercing the skin and inking it to make the tattoo.

The art of tattoo making is delicate. For a perfect tattoo to be made, there is a need for consistency.

The needles need to move with consistency in terms of depth and speed as well.

This means that tattoos done before 1900 were far from perfect since the speed and depth could never be consistent. Manual tattoos also hurt a lot.

To counter this problem, there had to be an invention to ensure that the process was tolerable to many who would wish to have these skin decorations.

Therefore, motorized tattoo machines came as a solution to the tattoo industry. They are handy in automating the entire process.

What Are The Major Categories Of Tattoo Machines?

There are two major categories of tattoo machines. The two major categories are rotary tattoo machines and coil tattoo machines.

An electric motor is used by rotary tattoo machines for driving needles in the tattoo machine.

As soon as the motor starts running on electricity, the flywheel spins into motion, practically converting the spinning motion into a sympathetic linear motion.

This linear motion is what the needles make use of to pierce the skin. As a result, the needles move up and down in a consistent manner.

This fast and consistent speed of the needles makes it easy to apply the tattoo when using the traditional method.

When performing the task, rotary tattoo machines produce minimal noise. Indeed, a rotary tattoo machine can work for a very long time silently, with very little noise level.

This ensures that the process is enjoyable and comfortable. However, rotary tattoo machines have their shortcomings as well.

First, tattoo machines should withstand the path lengthwise to give the tattoo artist ample time to complete the motion.

Unfortunately, rotary tattoo machines significantly fail in this aspect. The tattooist ends up using too much time to complete the motion and, by extension, the making of tattoos.

Again, rotary tattoo machines have poor ability to respond to pressure applied by the skin. When these are compared to coil tattoo machines, they lag very much far behind.

Consequently, many problems are connected to the rotary tattoo machines than the ones arising from coil machine users.

One major advantage of coil tattoo machines is making the lines deeper into the skin than the rotary tattoo machines.

Coil tattoo machine is not as silent as the rotary tattoo machine. Probably, you have visited a tattoo shop and heard loud noises coming from tattoo machines.

Do Rotary Tattoo Machines Use Different Needles?

When you hear loud noises coming from tattoo machines as they make tattoos, there is only one explanation to that; they are coil tattoo machines.

This is a major distinction between rotary tattoo machines and coil tattoo machines.

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Fundamentally, the coil tattoo machine runs on an electromagnetic coil. The machine is separate from the needles.

As such, the needles must be attached to the coil machine via an armature bar.

This is a spring-loaded bar, and it, therefore, vibrates up and down. When it completes a circuit in the up position, electricity is produced through the dual electromagnetic coils.

The bar is pulled down by the generated electricity that creates an electromagnetic field.

This breaks the circuit, and therefore releasing the bar to its original position again. This is the completed circuit which is repeated over and over again.

When the needles are connected to the bar, the vibration moves the needles up and down. This machine is, however, safer and faster than the traditional way of tattooing.

Several advantages are exhibited by coil tattoo machines over their counterparts, the rotary tattoo machines.

When refining lines, shading, smoothing, and other intricate tasks, the coil tattoo machines outdo the different types of machines.

Again, coil tattoo machines have other advantages, like a very durable motor that withstands the test of time. This motor comes in handy when doing needle grouping.

Additionally, coil tattoo machines are convenient in giving tattoo artists more liberty to control the machines easily. Therefore, the artist has more control over the whole process.

Finally, it ‘s easier to customize the machine to suit your particular needs. Indeed, it’s not hard to make your coil tattoo machine with the right apparatus.

Do Rotary Tattoo Machines Hurt More?

Not really. Indeed, it’s not easy to judge what type of tattoo machines hurts more than the other. Painful sensations are not an easy thing to judge.

There are many variables at play, and each person is bound to make a wrong conclusion based on the prevailing conditions. Ideally, there is no single tattoo that does not hurt.

However, there is one major advantage of rotary tattoo machines over the rest. This main advantage, as we stated earlier, is related to noise.

This type of machine is silent as it performs the tasks. Indeed, the rotary tattoo machines make no noise at all when in use.

Silence during tattooing means less anxiety on the clients as they are tattooed.

Consequently, many clients will pair that lack of anxiety to less pain. Therefore, this type of machine is perceived as less painful, but it’s not necessarily so.

Do Rotary Tattoo Machines Use Different Needles?

Therefore, for tattoo artists who are starting their tattooing career, the rotary tattoo machine(Amazon Link) is the best choice for you.

Additionally, for those clients who simply have their first tattoo done on them, this is the best type of machine to be used.

The buzzing noise that coil tattoo machines produce scares individuals. Due to the aggressive noise, people tend to imagine more pain during the tattooing process.

Consequently, the coil tattoo machines are paired with more pain, although this is not based on sound facts.

What happens here is a mental activity as described by Evans Pavlov concerning pairing.

In this theory, something may be perceived as painful through the process known as a pairing, but the thing may not be painful.

As a result, when the thing is presented, the person will imagine real pain in their mind and even feel like they are experiencing the pain in real-time.

Are There Other Types Of Tattoo Machines?

Yes. There are several other types of tattoo machines. There is a further subdivision of tattoo machines.

This subdivision falls in the category of short stroke and long stroke tattoo machines.

When it comes to long-stroke tattoo machines, they are great in shading, coloring, and sculpting lines. These are known for their ability to do very little damage to the client’s skin.

On the other hand, short-stroke machines are great when it comes to lining in single passes.

With the short-stroke tattoo machines, you will be able to able to get subtle black gradations.

Indeed, you can get portrait-like gradations from short-stroke machines.

Additionally, there is a variation of machines regarding width, tension, length, spring stiffness, contact gaps, and angle deflation.

Liner tattoo machines(Amazon Link) are short-stroke, helping artists in making solid lines in a single pass.

Generally, these machines are meant for making dominant lines and then laying the ink in a single pass.

A short contact circuit is used by the liner one, and this makes the machine cycle faster.

Short strokes are also made by some shader tattoo machines. All the same, this task is best performed by long-stroke machines that occasion very little damage to the skin.

These come in handy for shading, coloring, and the sculpting of lines. Shader tattoo machines are largely used for black ink shading. This is for making variations.

Because the machine uses larger contact gaps, the saturation level is lower. To power these machines, an air compressor comes in handy.


It’s easy to understand how a tattoo machine operates.

The working and differences in the tattoo machines are easy to understand if you avoid the complication presented by the physics part of the machines themselves.

It’s very easy to identify the category of the machine once you have it on your hands. The differences are glaringly significant.

The extend of pain one feels as one is tattooed on a variety of factors. It becomes impossible to conclusively state that any tattoo machine is less painful on the skin.

However, we can safely deduce that rotary tattoo machines are silent as they are used. This alone makes the client associate them with lesser pain.


I'm Vincent, a registered skincare specialist and an award-winning tattoo artist. I've been in the industry for over 10 years and have worked with some of the best tattoo artists in my field. I've loved everything to do with tattoos and arts in general, as well as exercise and wellness! This site is a place for me to share some of the expertise knowledge I have, as well as keep up-to-date with current research and studies. Tattoos are a huge passion of mine, I faced many questions from customers about different products, and there was hardly any help on the internet. I decided to start a blog and help other people!

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