What is a Tattoo Machine?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 14 August 2018
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Sometimes referred to as a tattoo gun or iron, the tattoo machine is a simple device that is used to create a tattoo. Many models of the machine can be held easily in one hand. Tattoo machines make it possible for the artist to move easily along the surface of the skin and drive colored pigment into the top layers of the dermal layering, creating the desired design.

While the tattoo machine has been around since the late 19th century, the device has progressed beyond the simple tube and needle construction that was used at the time. Today, the tattoo machine makes use of a series of electromagnetic coils that help to move needle bars up and down over the surface of the skin. As the bars move, ink is injected into the skin, creating a permanent marking. The use of tattoo machines of this nature have become increasingly common as more people choose to get one or more tattoos.


Unlike the earliest models, the tattoo machine of today runs off alternating current. The steady flow of current helps to achieve a steady motion to the coils of the device and also help to control the amount of ink that is expelled at each point in the process. The end result is that the tattoo artist can focus more of his or her attention to the design of the desired tattoo and spend less time on dealing with splotches of excess ink. Because it is possible to adjust the speed and degree of penetration of the machine, the artist can adapt the use of the tattoo machine to his or her own particular style and method of tattooing.

While professional tattoo artists more often utilize the tattooing machine, there are several models that can be purchased and used at home. Some of these home kits that come with the tattoo machines will include instructions for creating very basic tattoos that do not require a great deal of detail. However, it is recommended that is an intricate design is desired for the tattoo that the services of a professional tattoo artist be engaged.


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Post 3

I wouldn't mind getting a tattoo on my arm or shoulder, but I wouldn't want to get any tattoos that cover my entire body, as seen in the article pictures. It's a little disturbing if you ask me. There's nothing wrong with wanting to be fancy, but why ruin your entire body? OK, well, maybe "ruin" is too strong of a word, but I feel like you're transforming yourself into something you shouldn't.

Post 2

@Chmander - Unless he clearly knows what he's doing, I would seriously advise you to go to a professional tattoo artist. Based on my personal experience, friends generally aren't the best people to go to for piercings and whatnot. A while ago, I was interested in getting a tattoo, so I went to my friend, who claimed that he was a professional. However, due to his inexperience, my arm got a serious infection, and I had to be taken to the hospital. Thankfully, everything was taken care of, but always make sure to be careful.

Post 1

Has anyone here ever gotten a tattoo, and if so, how painful is it? I'm thinking about getting one on my arm in a few months, but I'm not so sure. After all, they are permanent and I don't want to end up getting injured. My friend will be giving me a tattoo in his garage. Does anyone have some advice?

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