In our quest to inform you about everything that is related to the art of tattooing we sought help from tattoo artist understanding what qualities of a rotary tattoo machine. We asked these professionals to tell us which devices they considered being the best rotary tattoo machine and why.
The artists gave us a comprehensive list of products, and they included tips and advice to help readers choose the machine that would be best suited to their needs.
The 7 Best Rotary Tattoo Machines Reviews
#1. Cartridge Pen Rotary Tattoo Machine by BIGWASP
This is a lightweight device that is made from Space aluminum and houses a Japanese motor. It has a very powerful motor and the gears work smoothly. It provides the artist with complete control so their designs have more accuracy and are clearer.
The machine is compatible with the majority of needles and can be used for lining, shading, and all tattoo needs.
The motor is very quiet while in operation and creates a calmer atmosphere so the client getting the tattoo will remain still, and possibly feel less pain. There are no discernable vibrations while the pen is in operation so the artist can control the pen more precisely.
The BIGWASP rotary pen is affordable and very easy to use. It can be craftily mastered by beginning artists and experienced artists.
- No experience necessary
- Small and lightweight so very portable
- Practical design creates a quiet machine
- May not have enough power for larger tattoo operations
#2. Extreme Rotary Tattoo Machine by Dragonhawk
The Dragonhawk extreme rotary tattoo machine is a carbon steel device. The carbon steel housing protects the inner workings of the machine and creates a more durable device than many other materials used for machine housings.
This device will give you the ability to create outlines, complete shading, perform color-packing techniques, and more. It is versatile, easy to use, durable, and recommended by many experienced professionals.
The machine is affordable. Do not let the low-price fool you. This is a high-quality machine that is very stable, has almost no vibration during use, is relatively quiet, and is lightweight. It is an excellent machine for beginners and it is a great tool for experienced artists to add to their equipment selection.
The device comes with a clip cord. It packs between 7.5 volts and 8.5 volts. You can hold it for long periods of time without feeling the strain in your hands or forearms.
- Versatile for many different applications
- Priced affordably
- Long lasting due to quality design
- Small size might be difficult to hold if you have large hands
#3. Rotary Tattoo Machine by Hawink
Aircraft aluminum has been used in the creation of this Hawink rotary tattoo machine. Aircraft aluminum is so strong that you can run over it with a vehicle without denting it or damaging it. It makes a durable housing for a tattoo gun and can withstand many years of continuous usage.
The motor in the device is a German Faulhaber. It is a powerful motor that operates almost silently. The powerful motor will provide you with the ability to create smooth designs using continuous operation. Your work will be finished more quickly and your customer will be less likely to be upset by the sound of the machine or the length of time they are having to remain still.
Clean-up of this device is very quick and easy to do. You can keep your equipment free from bacteria so you can promote a more sanitary work environment.
- Quiet with less vibrations
- Easy to clean
- Durable and reliable
- No experience necessary
- May cause hand fatigue if used for long periods of time without rest
#4. Mast Pen Rotary Tattoo Machine Plus Power Supply by Dragonhawk
This is a complete kit that will allow you to do body art creations with ease. The kit includes a power supply, a rotary pen, 20 cartridges or needles, a foot pedal, a DC power cord, and a carry case. It is tremendous for beginners and experts alike.
The working voltage of this device ranges from 6 volts to 9 volts so you have plenty of power to do whatever tattooing process you need to do. It is great for outlining, color-packing, and shading.
The frame of the device is space aluminum which allows the device to be lighter and yet retain enormous strength. The needles supplied with the pen have a unique patented shell design. The shell allows them to absorb a greater amount of ink and to deliver the ink in a less painful puncture.
- Everything you need to get started
- Lightweight and durable
- Versatile and can be used for all tattoo types
- Foot pedal operation only
#5. Mast Rotary Tattoo Pen by Dragonhawk – Beginners Tattoo Machine
This kit includes 50 needle cartridges in sizes of 1203RL, 1205RL, 1207RL, 1203RS, and 1205RS. They are a one-piece needle and plunger that grants the artist a higher amount of stability and control over the work they are doing.
This is a small pen that provides the artist with the ability to maintain high accuracy levels even when they are working on a design that requires hours of ink deposits to be made. The power supply that comes with the kit includes a foot pedal control so the artist has both hands free to work on the design, and still retains perfect control over needle speed.
It is very quiet while it is in operation. It does not overheat and feels hot in your hand after continuous use. It is easy to clean, and it is a perfect addition to any tattoo shop or artist tool collection.
- Cool to the touch during use
- Easy to set up and clean up
- Great for beginners or experienced artists
- Small pen may be hard for male tattoo artists to hold
#6. Rotary Tattoo Pen by Solong
This tattooing device really feels like you are holding an ink pen. If you are comfortable drawing your designs and holding ink pens and design pencils then you will be just as comfortable holding this lightweight device.
Aircraft aluminum alloy was used in the creation of the device. This material allows the pen to be amazingly strong and durable, yet very light/ The artist can hold the pen for hours without strain.
It allows you to apply permanent make-up or do detailed tattoo designs. It is very quiet and does not produce enough heat to become uncomfortable to hold while you work. The operating voltage ranges from 7 volts to 12 volts so the machine is powerful and will create the ability for you to do shading, lining, and other techniques by adjusting the voltage to suit the need.
The front section of the grip can be turned to adjust the depth of the needle penetration.
- Versatile and can be used for more than one application
- Lightweight and reduces hand fatigue
- Does not burn your hand if you have to work with it for several hours
- May cause skin irritation
#7. Mast Tour Wireless Rotary Pen by Mast Tattoo
3,000 hours of working time can easily be expected from the Japanese coreless motor that powers this small handheld wireless rotary pen device. It provides smooth continuous operations so you can create a flawless lining, impeccable shading, and all other ink techniques.
The machine design allows you to have the ability to work faster. The needles can be set at the precise depth needed according to the skin of the customer, and the speed of the penetration can be adjusted so the artist maintains the absolute amount of control over the tattoo design.
This is a cordless device and the charger comes with the unit. You are able to position the pen easily because there is no cord to interfere with positioning. A USB cable connects the unit to a computer or device for charging. It is highly portable and stylish.
- Provides you the mobility you need
- Versatile enough to do lining or shading processes
- Easy for beginners to learn to use
- May not hold charge long enough to finish the design work without recharging
Rotary Tattoo Machine Brands
Tattoo artists have a wide variety of rotary devices that are produced by a large number of manufacturers. Some of the most popular brands of rotary tattoo machines include:
- FK Irons
- Infinite Irons
- On A Mission
- Jack Steel
There are many more brands of rotary tattoo machines. Manufacturers of these devices are found scattered around the world. When comparing brands of machinery talk to a professional or mentor to discover what brands are the most durable, effective, easy to use, and easy to repair or replace.
How to Set Up a Rotary Tattoo Machine
Rotary tattoo machines are often called plug-n-play devices. They are so easy to set up that the most difficult part of the set-up is plugging the unit into a power source.
The pen-style rotary machines are familiar feeling and easy to hold.
- Make sure your equipment is perfectly clean and sanitary.
- Wear rubber or latex gloves
- Install the battery or the clip cord to get power.
- Get a clip cord cover and slide the tattoo machine inside and pull the cover down to the end.
- To keep the cover from slipping get some grip tape and make a couple of grips around the unit. This can increase the comfort of the pen. If you like a thicker grip fold paper toweling and wrap it around the cover of the pen prior to applying the grip tape. This will allow you to use less grip tape.
- Insert the cartridge by pressing it firmly into place.
- Turn on the power and twist the back of the machine clockwise to make the needle barb stick out farther. The needle should protrude about the same amount that a nickel is. If the needle protrudes less than nickel depth the lines may look scratchy and any deeper than a nickel depth could cause the tattoo to blow-out.
How to Use a Rotary Tattoo Machine
The first order of business is to set up the rotary machine with the proper needle for the work you are doing and to set the needle to the proper depth according to the skin of the individual. Once you have the machine properly set up you are ready to begin working.
- Place ink in a disposable cup. Use a sterile stirring stick to mix the ink.
- with the gun running dip it into the ink and let the ink fill up the reservoir.
- Hold the gun at a forty-five-degree angle. Some people prefer to push the pen and others prefer to pull the pen. Establish how you like to work during your practice sessions. I can tell you pushing a rope is more difficult than pulling and that can be applied to tattoo creations as well.
- Watch the first lines you make. If they are scratchy or too thin dial the needle out slightly more. When you see the line starting to diminish is width then stop and refill the needle reservoir with ink.
How to Clean Rotary Tattoo Machine
Cleaning the rotary machine properly allows you to have sanitary equipment that will not spread bacteria from one client to another. It is really important that you clean your machine thoroughly after every use.
Most pen-style rotary machines are covered by a plastic sleeve while the artist is working. This is an extra layer of germ protection. The sleeve protects the machine from exposure. The sleeve is not meant to replace proper cleaning and sterilization. It is simply an additional measure taken by artists.
- Properly dispose of the needle in a Sharps container.
- Put warm water in a dish and mix a minute amount of bleach into it. Disassemble the device and place the components into the dish of bleach water.
- Use disinfectant spray to clean the grip of the device. Then put the grip in the dish with the other components.
- Allow the components to sit in the water for at least 15 minutes.
- Remove the components from the bleach water.
- Place them in clear water with no bleach
- Take each component out and wipe it off using a warm cloth. Bleach is corrosive so rinse the components thoroughly and dry completely.
- You can now put the items in an autoclave for further sterilization if you desire.
FAQ About Rotary Tattoo Machines
Do Rotary Tattoo Machines Hurt More?
Rotary machines are said to be less painful than other tattoo machines. The motors of the rotary devices are very quiet. Often the pain that the client feels is amplified by the sound of the equipment. The rotary machines have little vibration so the needle goes in smoothly and this reduces friction and pain.
What is the best cheap rotary tattoo machine?
When you are searching for low-priced tattoo equipment take into consideration the features of the machine, the materials it is crafted from, and the motor that powers it. Dragonhawk makes an excellent low-priced machine that is powerful and surprisingly durable.
What should be the speed of rotary tattoo machine?
The speed that you set the machine at will depend greatly on the type of work you are doing. When you are establishing the detail lines or outlines of the work you want to set the machine somewhere between 7.5 volts and 8.5 volts. When you begin to do shading work increase the voltage of the machine to between 8 volts and 10 volts.
A rotary tattoo machine is quieter than any other tattooing device. The motors in these devices power the needles in smooth operations so there really is less pain associated with receiving the tattoo.
The majority of these devices are small units that are held in the hand like an ink pen. They are often made of lightweight aluminum so they usually weigh about the same amount as a good ink pen or motorized toothbrush.