Tattoo Machines - Coil vs Rotary - Tattoo Everything Supplies

Tattoo Machines - Coil vs Rotary

As a tattoo artist choosing a machine is one of the most important choices in your career, the big question is... Coil or Rotary ? 

Understanding the differences between the two can help you make an informed decision about which type of machine is best for your specific needs and skill level as a tattoo artist.

The tattoo industry, like many others, has hugely benefited from the increased development of technology over the past few years. Some artists still love a good old coil machines, which will always be a part of our industry; however, in the past few years, we have seen many artists transition from using such machines to using rotary and pen style machines instead. 


What is a coil machine ?

These are the typical machines that come to mind when you think of tattooing. They use electromagnetic waves to power the machine through coils.The coils generate a electromagnetic charge that pulls the needle back, it temporarily cuts the circuit and a spring pushes it forward again, this repeating motion translates into a hammering motion allowing ink into the skin. It’s a loud and heavy machine that takes getting used to, but they’re very affordable.



  • They are typically more affordable than rotary machines.
  • Can be used for both lining and shading.
  • Coil machines are relatively easy to use and maintain.
  • Coil machines typically produce less pain during the tattooing process than rotary machines.


  • Coil machines can be a bit louder than rotary machines.
  • Some people may find coil machines to be less comfortable than rotary machines.
  • Coil machines require slightly more maintenance than rotary machines.


What is a rotary machine ?

In a rotary pen tattoo machine, the tattoo needles are drawn and released by a little motor in the rotating tattoo machines.

The machine’s motor is housed within its chassis. When the devices are running, there are very low noise levels compared to coil machines which are generally quite loud.

As rotary tattoo machines have more advantages, many tattoo artists prefer them to coil tattoo machines. A rotary machine makes it an easier and extremely smooth process.


  • It is less damaging.
  • It reduces maintenance stress.
  • Rotary machines are quiet.
  • It runs smoothly.
  • Ideal for colouring and filling.
  • easy to use and setup
  • The Lining is sometimes more difficult with¬†rotary.
  • It requires a full stroke needle to complete motion.
  • It can‚Äôt be tuned by ear, unlike a coil machine.

Pen style Machines

Pen style machines are rotary machines in a casing that looks like a pen. This can be helpful for tattoo artists - especially new artists - because they’re easy to use and don’t require tuning.

Some pen machines run on batteries, and some use an RCA cord (like most rotary machines).

Batteries can be great because they let you work wirelessly without dealing with a cord over your arm or getting trapped under your chair. 

Pen style machines use needle cartridges, and you can simply swap our your cartridges for lining/shading ect. Cartridges are single-use, so when you're finished tattooing, you can throw them away with minimal cleanup.







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