What is a Rotary Tattoo Machine?

Posted by Dragon Tattoo on

Tattoo machines that use an electric motor that physically drives the needle up and down are known as rotary machines. The difference between rotary machine and standard two coil machines is that standard two coil type of machines use magnetism to move the needles. One of the biggest advantages that the rotary machine has is that it weight less than standard machines. The rotary machine is weight less because uses a single motor instead of two coils, and an armature bar assembly. They can weigh as little as half as much as a standard stamped steel frame coil tattoo machine.

This tattoo machines are actually very simple. They have no springs contact posts or armature bars to vibrate loose, weaken or even wear out. They are basically free from vibration and run virtually silent. That is because of the rotary action. Making them easier to plug in and manipulate, rotary machines use RCA jack inputs for power supply.

But don’t worry about the power supply, rotary machines run efficiently on the same voltage as a standard coil machine. Both machines use the same needles and tube combinations, and both machines can be used to line or shade a tattoo as well. The best way to find out if a rotary machine is the right choice for you is to try one and decide for yourself.

The Advantages

The most used tattoo machines are dual coil tattoo machines. They are easy to find and relatively inexpensive. They are also great for shading and smooth lines. But many tattoo artists prefer to use rotary tattoo machines instead. The weight, noise and versatility are the main advantages why many tattoo artist prefer the rotary machine.


It is a fact that rotary tattoo machines are significantly lighter than comparable dual coil machines. There are no electromagnetic copper-wound coils to weigh down the back end of the rotary machine. With a lighter weight, a tattoo artist can work longer at a single sitting and that is a great advantage.

It also means less hand cramping and finger, which also means that artists will make fewer mistakes while tattooing.


Having a tattoo machine with a lot of noise is not something that customers want. It can turn off first-time customers who are already hesitant about getting a tattoo at first place. Unlike the rotary machine, the electromagnetic switching of coil type tattoo machines generates a significant amount of noise. Rotary style tattoo machines make far less noise. Less noise creates the psychological perception that the tattoo will be less painful.


Depending on the type of needle bar you select, rotary tattoo machine can be used as either a shader or a liner. This is great news for professional tattoo artists. They wouldn’t have to change tattoo machines to complete a complex tattoo on a customer. Dual coil machines can be used as either a liner or a shader, but not both like the rotary machine.

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