How do tattoo machines work?

BY Marshall Brain / POSTED March 10, 2010
Hammerbrook - City can this really be true?
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You Asked:

How do tattoo machines work? — Jerry, Cave City, Ark.

Marshall Brain Answers:

The basic idea behind a tattoo machine is simple. You have an Electromagnet that attracts a piece of metal. The metal is attached to the needle. The needle moves about an eighth of an inch (2mm) in and out. When the needle is inked and touched to the skin, it drives ink particles into the skin as described in How Tattoos Work.

The needle is usually a needle bar with several needle points attached to it. You can see the needles and the electromagnets in this video:

The following video shows the same kind of arrangement on a machine from a different manufacturer, at the end of the video shows the machine in action:

The following video shows how to tune the tattoo machine with the adjustment screw:

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