Coil Tattoo Machine

Coil tattoo machines are no longer so heavy that they have to be suspended from the ceiling to be operable, like South’s first double-coil tattoo machine was. Rotary tattoo machines are even more advanced and represent some of the quietest, gentlest tattoo machines available today.  Coil tattoo machines work utilize electromagnetic current to create and break a circuit in a cyclical fashion, moving the needles attached to the machine forward into the skin when the circuit is created and retracting them when the circuit breaks. When power is delivered to a coil tattoo machine, the two coils are charged and turned into an electromagnet. The electromagnet created by the coils pulls the machine’s armature bar down towards the coils, which subsequently forces the attached tattoo needles down and into the skin. The downward motion of the armature bar pulls the front spring down with it and causes the spring to disconnect from the contact screw above it that a second before had completed a circuit.

That break in the circuit causes the electromagnetic field to collapse momentarily, releasing the armature bar from the coils. The spring attached to the armature bar wants to move back to its natural position, and it pulls the armature bar up with it. When the front spring reconnects with the contact screw, the circuit and electromagnetic field are re-established. That starts the process all over again, pulling the armature bar back down, forcing the attached needles into the skin, pulling the front spring away from the contact screw, and breaking the circuit once more.

The way a coil machine is powered creates a hammer-like effect that drives tattoo needles into the skin more forcefully than they’d be moved by a rotary motor.  That said, if you love the buzz of tattoo machines that’s traditionally associated with tattoo shops, then a coil tattoo machine is the option for you,  particularly if you’re an experienced artist who can manage a coil machine with finesse.