Anatomy of a Tattoo Machine

Tattoo MachineThe Machine:

Today’s tattoo machine (NOT a tattoo gun) has remained relatively unchanged since the 1800’s.  The machine, reminiscent of a dental drill, injects ink in to the skin at a rate of 50-3,000 punctures per minute. Modern day machines penetrate the skin only about a millimeter deep.

The Needles:

Small groupings of needles (between 1-3) are used to draw sharp lines. Larger groups of up to 32 needles are arranged in rows, like a paintbrush, for shading and coloring.

The Mechanics:

An electric current runs through the copper coils, turning the coils in to an electromagnet. The armature bar, above the coils, is connected to the needles. When the coils are magnetized, they attract the bar downward, pushing the needle in to the skin.

The metal strip and the contact screw control the current. When the two are touching each other, the electric current is able to flow in to the coils. When the magnetized coils pull the armature bar down, the metal strip is no longer touching the screw, breaking the current and causing the coils to demagnetize and pull the needle out of the skin.

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Tattoo machine anatomy

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