Most professional tattoo shops use dual coil tattoo machines because they are readily available and relatively inexpensive. They also provide smooth lines and shading. Although dual coil machines may be the standard, some tattoo artists prefer to use rotary tattoo machines instead.Rotary machines offer several advantages over dual coil machines that make them attractive to a growing number of tattoo artists, according to Erick Alayon, author of “The Craft of Tattooing.”
According to C. R. Jordan, author of “Basic Fundamentals of Modern Tattoo,” rotary tattoo machines are significantly lighter than comparable dual coil machines. This is because there are no electromagnetic copper-wound coils to weigh down the back end of the machine. The lighter weight means that a tattoo artist can work longer at a single sitting. It also means less finger and hand cramping, so artists will make fewer mistakes.
The electromagnetic switching of coil type tattoo machines generates a significant amount of noise, which can turn off first-time customers who are already hesitant about getting a tattoo. According to Erick Alayon, rotary style tattoo machines make far less noise, which creates the psychological perception that the tattoo will be less painful.
A rotary tattoo machine can be used as either a liner or a shader, depending on the type of needle bar you select, says Alayon, This means that a tattoo artist can complete an entire tattoo, no matter how complex the design, using only one machine. By contrast, dual coil machines can be used as either a liner or a shader, but not both. The dual coil shaders have thicker barrels and heavier coils to produce the extra power needed to drive the ink into the skin. Dual coil liners have thinner barrels and lighter coils for extra comfort.
Difference Between Tattoo Ink & Pen Ink
The major differences between tattoo and pen inks are the composition of the inks and the purposes for which they are used. Tattoo ink is applied beneath the skin in a cosmetic procedure while pen ink is used on paper and other inorganic surfaces.
Traditional writing inks used by the Chinese 5,000 years ago were mixtures of soot suspended in water and a stabilizing agent such as gelatin or egg albumen. Later mixtures substituted berries and barks for the soot.
Tattoo ink was comprised of pigments extracted from plants, trees and flowers. Some early tattoo tribe cultures, such as the Maori, used burnt gums or caterpillars.
Modern inks are complex and their formulas protected by patents. They are most often comprised of dyes combined with various chemicals, including preservatives and thickeners that ensure smooth running ink that won’t dry in the shaft of the pen. The coloring agents used can be organic and inorganic. Ball point pen ink is alcohol-based, although the specific ingredients are trade secrets.
Modern tattoo ink contains pigment less prone to fading, such as heavy metals, salts and other chemicals suspended in a carrier fluid such as ethyl alcohol or water. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the pigments used in tattoo ink are not regulated for injection into the skin. This absence of regulation allows tattoo artists to create their own mixes.
Pen manufacturers favor dyes as the ink colorant to prevent the pen from clogging. Tattoo ink uses dyes or pigments. Pen inks are standardized formulas. Tattoo inks are subject to customization by tattoo artists.