Pen Tattoo Machines: Your Ultimate Guide to the Tattoo Revolution

Pen Tattoo Machines: Your Ultimate Guide to the Tattoo Revolution
Home » Pen Tattoo Machines: Your Ultimate Guide to the Tattoo Revolution

Hey there, ink aficionados and needle ninjas! Welcome back to, your go-to destination for all things tattoo. It’s your resident tattooer, ready to share some insider knowledge for you to up your tattoo game. Today, we’re gonna talk about the powerhouse of the tattoo world – the pen tattoo machine! So, grab your gloves, and let’s get ready to ride the electric needle as we unveil the secrets of these wicked tools.

As a seasoned tattoo artist, I’ve been throwing down and slinging ink with the best of them for years, and trust me, I’ve seen my fair share of tattoo gear. But let me tell you, once you’ve dipped your needle into the world of pen tattoo machines, there’s no turning back. These sleek and precise instruments are an absolute game-changer for pros and apprentices alike.

In this article, I’ll be dishing out the tips and tricks on how to use a pen tattoo machine like a true master, taking you on a journey through the process of turning a blank canvas of skin into a living, breathing masterpiece. So, all you ink addicts and tattoo fanatics, buckle up – we’re about to dive deep into the inkwell of tattoo excellence!

What is a pen tattoo machine?

A pen tattoo machine is a revolutionary tattooing device that has taken the ink world by storm. Designed to resemble the shape and grip of a traditional pen, this innovative tool offers unparalleled precision, control, and comfort for both the artist and the canvas (that’s you!). Boasting a sleek, ergonomic form, the pen tattoo machine allows for a more natural and intuitive tattooing experience compared to its coil and rotary counterparts.

The pen tattoo machine operates on a rotary mechanism, with a motor-driven needle that smoothly oscillates in and out, depositing ink into the skin. This low-vibration, quiet, and consistent performance makes it perfect for detailed work, fine lines, and intricate shading.

One of the most significant advantages of a pen tattoo machine is its versatility. Many models come with adjustable needle depth and interchangeable needle cartridges, allowing artists to switch between various needle configurations with ease. This adaptability makes it a favorite among tattooists, as it eliminates the need for multiple machines or setups for different tattoo styles.

In summary, the pen tattoo machine is a game-changing innovation in the tattoo industry, offering a superior level of control, precision, and comfort. It’s user-friendly design and versatile capabilities make it an essential tool for both seasoned professionals and aspiring artists looking to make their mark in the ink world.

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Advantages of Using a Pen Tattoo Machine

The pen tattoo machine has gained popularity in the tattoo industry for several reasons, with numerous advantages that make it a preferred choice for many professional artists. Here are some of the key benefits of using a pen tattoo machine:

  • Ergonomics and comfort: Pen tattoo machines are designed with an ergonomic grip, similar to that of a traditional pen or marker. This design allows for more comfortable and natural hand positioning, reducing hand fatigue and strain during long tattoo sessions. This added comfort can lead to better overall control and precision.
  • Precision and accuracy: The pen-like design of these machines provides artists with superior control, resulting in precise line work, smooth shading, and intricate detailing. This level of accuracy can help enhance the overall quality of the tattoo, especially when working on complex designs.
  • Versatility: Pen tattoo machines often come with adjustable needle depth and interchangeable needle cartridges, making it easy for artists to switch between different needle configurations and techniques. This adaptability eliminates the need for multiple machines or setups, streamlining the tattooing process.
  • Consistent performance: The rotary mechanism of pen tattoo machines ensures consistent needle movement and smooth operation, reducing vibrations compared to traditional coil machines. This leads to more predictable results, allowing artists to achieve their desired effects with greater ease.
  • Quieter operation: Pen tattoo machines tend to produce less noise than their coil counterparts, creating a more comfortable and relaxed atmosphere for both the artist and the client. This can be particularly beneficial for clients with anxiety or first-timers who may be nervous about the tattooing process.
  • Lightweight design: The sleek and lightweight design of pen tattoo machines makes them more portable and maneuverable, enabling artists to work comfortably for extended periods without experiencing hand or wrist fatigue.
  • Easier maintenance: Pen tattoo machines typically have fewer parts and require less maintenance than traditional coil machines, saving artists time and effort on upkeep.

By offering a combination of ergonomics, precision, versatility, and consistency, pen tattoo machines have become a popular choice among professional artists and apprentices alike. These advantages contribute to a better tattooing experience for both the artist and the client, resulting in higher-quality tattoos and more satisfied customers.

How to Set Up a Pen Tattoo Machine?

Setting up a pen tattoo machine is a straightforward process that can be broken down into a few simple steps. Before you begin, ensure that your workspace is clean and sterile and that you’re wearing gloves to maintain proper hygiene. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to set up a pen tattoo machine:

  1. Assemble the machine: Unbox your pen tattoo machine and its components, including the power supply, foot pedal, clip cord, and needle cartridges. Familiarize yourself with the manufacturer’s instructions, as different models may have specific assembly requirements.
  2. Connect the power supply: Attach the power supply to a stable and secure surface near your workspace. Plug the power supply into an electrical outlet, ensuring that the cable is out of the way to prevent tripping hazards.
  3. Attach the clip cord and foot pedal: Connect the clip cord to the pen tattoo machine and the power supply. Then, attach the foot pedal to the power supply. This configuration allows you to control the machine’s power and needle movement with your foot, freeing up your hands for tattooing.
  4. Adjust the needle depth: Different pen tattoo machines may have different methods for adjusting needle depth. In general, you can twist the grip or adjust a dial on the machine to set the desired needle depth. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for specific guidance on your model. Remember that the appropriate needle depth can vary depending on the technique and desired effect.
  5. Load the needle cartridge: Choose the appropriate needle cartridge for your tattoo design and technique (lining, shading, etc.). Open the sterile packaging and carefully insert the cartridge into the pen tattoo machine, twisting or clicking it into place as needed. Some machines may have a locking mechanism to secure the cartridge in place.
  6. Test the machine: Turn on the power supply and set the voltage according to the manufacturer’s recommendations or your personal preferences. Press the foot pedal to activate the machine, ensuring that the needle moves smoothly and consistently. Adjust the voltage as needed to achieve the desired speed and performance.
  7. Prepare the ink: Pour your chosen tattoo ink into clean, individual ink caps. Place the caps on a sterile tray or ink cup holder, ensuring that they are easily accessible while tattooing.
  8. Set up a barrier: To maintain cleanliness and prevent cross-contamination, cover your pen tattoo machine, power supply, and clip cord with disposable barrier protection, such as plastic bags or sleeves. This step is particularly important if you’re working with clients, as it helps maintain a hygienic environment.

Once you’ve completed these steps, your pen tattoo machine is set up and ready for use. Remember to follow proper hygiene and safety practices throughout the tattooing process to ensure the best results for both you and your clients.

Best brand pen tattoo machine

As of my knowledge cut off in April 2023, here’s a list of some of the best pen tattoo machine brands available in the market.

  • Cheyenne Hawk: Known for its high-quality products, the Cheyenne Hawk Pen is a favorite among professional tattoo artists. Their machines offer precision, reliability, and a smooth tattooing experience.
  • Bishop Rotary: Bishop Rotary offers the popular WAND pen machine, which features a sleek design, powerful motor, and great balance. This brand is known for its premium quality and durability.
  • FK Irons: FK Irons is renowned for its advanced engineering and cutting-edge tattoo equipment. The Spektra Xion pen machine is a versatile, powerful, and ergonomic option that has become popular among tattoo artists worldwide.
  • Bronc: The Bronc pen tattoo machine is another option that delivers excellent performance and smooth operation. Its lightweight design and low noise level make it a comfortable choice for both the artist and the client.
  • Stigma-Rotary: Stigma-Rotary offers the Stylist and the Thorn pen machines, known for their consistency and adaptability. These machines are designed for artists who appreciate versatile, high-performance tools.
  • Dragonhawk: Dragonhawk provides budget-friendly pen tattoo machines without compromising on quality. Their Mast Tour and Mast Archer models are popular choices for both beginners and experienced tattoo artists.
  • InkJecta: The InkJecta Flite Nano is a high-end pen tattoo machine that boasts an ultra-lightweight design, powerful motor, and customizable features. It’s a great option for artists seeking precision and control.

Remember that the best tattoo gun for you depends on your individual preferences, budget, and experience level. Take the time to research and compare different models to find the one that best suits your needs and style.

How to clean pen tattoo machine?

Proper cleaning and maintenance of your pen tattoo machine are essential to ensure its longevity and maintain a hygienic environment. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to clean a pen tattoo machine:

  1. Disassemble the machine: First, disconnect the pen tattoo machine from the power supply and remove the needle cartridge. Consult the manufacturer’s instructions for guidance on disassembling your specific model, as different machines may have unique components and disassembly requirements.
  2. Wipe down the exterior: Wearing gloves, use a disposable, lint-free cloth or paper towel dampened with a disinfectant solution (such as isopropyl alcohol or a specialized tattoo machine cleaner) to gently wipe down the exterior of the pen tattoo machine. Be sure to clean all surfaces, including the grip and any grooves or crevices. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials that could damage the machine.
  3. Clean the grip: Some pen tattoo machines have removable grips. If yours does, remove the grip and clean it separately using the same disinfectant solution. Use a small brush or cotton swab to clean any hard-to-reach areas. Allow the grip to air dry or pat it dry with a clean, lint-free cloth.
  4. Clean the needle cartridge area: Use a cotton swab dampened with a disinfectant solution to clean the area where the needle cartridge is inserted. Be gentle to avoid damaging the motor or internal components.
  5. Reassemble the machine: Once all the parts are clean and dry, reassemble the pen tattoo machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  6. Sterilize the machine: It’s crucial to sterilize your pen tattoo machine between clients to maintain a safe and hygienic environment. Use a disposable barrier, such as a plastic sleeve or bag, to cover the machine during tattooing. Dispose of the barrier and clean the machine again after each use.
  7. Regular maintenance: In addition to routine cleaning, it’s essential to perform regular maintenance on your pen tattoo machine to ensure its optimal performance. This may include lubricating the motor, adjusting the needle depth, or tightening any loose components. Consult the manufacturer’s instructions for specific maintenance recommendations for your model.

Remember to always follow proper hygiene and safety practices when cleaning and maintaining your pen tattoo machine. This will help ensure the best results for you and your clients, as well as prolong the life of your equipment.

Coil VS Pen tattoo machine? What is better?

Coil and pen tattoo machines are two popular types of tattoo equipment, each with its unique features, advantages, and disadvantages. Here, we’ll explore the key differences between coil tattoo machines and pen tattoo machines:

  1. Design and Mechanism:
  • Coil tattoo machines use electromagnetic coils to drive the needle’s movement. These machines typically have a more traditional, industrial appearance, with two coils and a mechanical armature bar that moves the needle up and down.
  • Pen tattoo machines utilize a rotary mechanism powered by a motor, resulting in a more streamlined, pen-like design. The motor drives the needle’s oscillating movement, offering smoother and more consistent operation.
  1. Ergonomics and Comfort:
  • Coil machines tend to be heavier and bulkier, which may lead to increased hand fatigue and strain during extended tattoo sessions.
  • Pen machines, with their ergonomic and lightweight design, are easier to handle and maneuver, providing a more comfortable tattooing experience for both the artist and the client.
  1. Noise and Vibration:
  • Coil machines are known for producing more noise and vibrations, which may be uncomfortable for some clients and may affect the artist’s precision and control.
  • Pen machines operate more quietly and with less vibration, offering a more relaxing tattooing environment and improved control and accuracy for the artist.
  1. Precision and Control:
  • Coil machines can be more challenging to control and may require more experience to achieve precise line work and shading.
  • Pen machines offer superior precision and control, making it easier for artists to create detailed designs, fine lines, and smooth shading.
  1. Adjustability and Versatility:
  • Coil machines often require separate setups for lining and shading, which may involve changing the entire machine or adjusting various components.
  • Pen machines usually come with adjustable needle depth and interchangeable needle cartridges, making it simpler to switch between different techniques and needle configurations without changing machines or making complex adjustments.
  1. Maintenance:
  • Coil machines have more parts and components, which can make them more challenging to maintain, clean, and troubleshoot.
  • Pen machines have fewer parts and are generally easier to clean, maintain, and troubleshoot, saving time and effort for the artist.

In conclusion, the choice between a coil tattoo machine and a pen tattoo machine depends on the artist’s preferences, experience, and specific needs. While coil machines have a traditional, robust feel, pen machines offer a more ergonomic, precise, and versatile tattooing experience. Each type of machine has its benefits and drawbacks, so it’s essential to consider your individual requirements and working style when choosing the best tattoo equipment for you.

Rob Flat

Born and raised in Istanbul, I discovered his passion for tattooing at a young age. I spent countless hours honing my skills and experimenting with different techniques and eventually developed my signature style combining elements of realism, surrealism and geometric patterns.

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