What Is The Difference Between The Rotary vs. Coil Tattoo Machines?

Rotary vs. Coil Tattoo Machines: Let’s find out their top 10 differences, similarities, pros & cons, and finally, which is better.
Rotary vs. Coil Tattoo Machine: Differences, Similarities, Pros & Cons

Rotary vs. Coil Tattoo Machine: If you are into tattoos and their formation, you must have wondered about the rotary tattoo gun vs. coil tattoo machine difference. The coil machine is a traditional tool to create tattoos, whereas rotary guns are more common in the modern world. The coil tattoo machine works with electromagnetic energy, while the rotary machine uses needles to create tattoos.

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Considering the definitions of rotary vs. coil tattoo machine 

What is Coil Tattoo Machine?

It is a device that generates high-power and energy to deliver a tattoo by creating an electromagnetic circuit for the movement of needle grouping.

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What is Rotary Tattoo Machine?

It is a quieter version of the traditional tattoo machine that utilizes the power of an electric motor for moving the needles.

Studying the pros and cons of rotary vs. coil tattoo machine 

Pros of Coil Tattoo Machine

  • The Coil machine is more robust.
  • It is easy to customize the machine parts.
  • They have more control.
  • They work faster
  • It is easy to adjust speed and power.

Cons of Coil Tattoo Machine

  • Unlike a rotary machine, these machines are not versatile.
  • You will need two coil machines: one or lining and the other for shading.
  • They are noisy

Pros of Rotary Tattoo Machine

  • It is easy to use & setup.
  • It is less damaging.
  • It reduces maintenance stress.
  • Rotary machines are quiet.
  • It runs smoothly.
  • Ideal for coloring and filling.

Cons of Rotary Tattoo Machine

  • The Lining is difficult with this machine.
  • It requires a full stroke needle to complete motion.
  • It can’t be tuned by ear, unlike a coil machine.
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Understanding the similarities between rotary tattoo machine vs. traditional coil machine 

  • These machines are a solution to getting a permanent tattoo.
  • Both operate painful procedures.
  • Both require manpower to process
  • Both are admirable for drawing lines and shading.

Difference between Coil and Rotary tattoo machines at a glance

BasisCoil MachineRotary Tattoo Gun
OperationsIt operates through electromagnetic currentIt operates with a needle moving up and down through the small motor
NoiseThese machines are noisyThese machines are quieter
VersatileIt can create either lines or shadesIt is versatile and draws both
EffectivenessThe Coil machine is more powerful and effectiveRotary guns are less effective compared to coil machines
WeightThese are heavierRotary machines are lightweight
Cost-efficientThey are generally costlier than rotary machinesRelatively cheaper than coil machines
Time consumptionThey work fasterThese are more time consuming
PortabilityThese machines lack portabilityBeing lightweight, they are portable
AdjustmentsIt requires more adjustmentsMinimum adjustments are required in this machine
VibrationCoil machines vibrate too muchThey produce less vibration

How to make a professional rotary tattoo machine?

  1. Take a needle and thread it through the barrel
  2. Attach it to the tattoo machine
  3. Attach the front of the armature bar with the loop on the needle
  4. Use rubber bands against the back of the tube
  5. Ensure having 1/16 and 1/32 of needle visibility at the end
  6. Connect to the power and get started.
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What is a direct drive rotary tattoo machine? 

Containing direct needle attachment and cam wheel directly placed on the motor shaft are direct drive rotary machines. With a low vibration motor, they deliver high torque power.

What’s the difference between rotary tattoo machines and coil?

The basic coil vs. rotary tattoo gun difference lies in the mechanism of these two machines. A rotary machine generates a direct mechanism where the electricity drives the needle up and down super fast, whereas a coil machine generates a mechanism by using two coils of wire around iron rods to create a magnetic current.

How to set up a rotary tattoo gun?

  1. Attach the rubber nipple to the needle bar pin
  2. Open the retaining screw to fit the needle bar and tube
  3. Fit the needle-bar loop to the nipple and make sure they aren’t loose
  4. Press the needle bar downwards by holding the needle bar pin
  5. Connect the needle-bar to the needle-bar retainer rings by tuning the retainer screw
  6. Adjust the needle bar retainer
  7. Ensure they all come together tightly
  8. Connect to the power source and set the voltage

How rotary tattoo machines work?

A rotary machine works with a moving needle that deposits ink into the dermis of the client’s skin with each insertion. It contains a motor for operating.

What is the best rotary tattoo machine?

The best rotary machine is one that is constructed with high-quality material and can work in a more versatile manner.

Do Rotary Tattoo Machines hurt less?

No, rotary tattoo machines do not hurt less. The pain that occurs while getting a tattoo is not related to the machine. However, the rotary machine makes less sound than the coil machine, and it can be perceived that a tattoo session will hurt less. So, when considering a rotary or coil tattoo machine for beginners, it is best to choose a rotary machine for the perception it delivers.

How do you hold a tattoo gun while tattooing?

Holding a tattoo gun machine is quite similar to holding a pen. A steady position is achieved when the palm of your hand rests on the skin that is called the bridge. Let the palm go down first and then the machine.

What’s the difference between a cheap tattoo machine and an expensive one?  

The cheap machines are constructed with cheap parts that may damage the skin, unlike expensive ones that are made with the finest materials and give impressive outcomes.

How to clean a rotary tattoo machine?  

  • Sterile the needle and tube after each operation
  • Use the bleach-water solution to clean a rotary machine
  • Detach each part and sterilize
  • Keep them separate and safe while not in use

Bottom line: Rotary or coil tattoo machine

The professionals in the tattoo world use both a rotary and a traditional coil machine. Both have differences as well as similarities. If you want a less expensive portable tattoo machine, the rotary is the one for you. And if you like more professionalism with stronger-heavier experience, opt for a coil machine.  

Comparison Chart

Rotary vs. Coil Tattoo Machines: Let’s find out their top 10 differences, similarities, pros & cons, and finally, which is better.

Comparison Video

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Alex Stantor
Alex Stantor

Alex Stantor is a Sorbonne University (Paris, France) graduate in Philosophy and Data Analysis. Currently, he is an Author and Researcher at Difference 101, he writes articles/blog posts on topics such as "thinking differently" and "the importance of difference". Alex is a passionate advocate of diversity in the workplace and in companies, and diversity and inclusion in corporate communications. He currently lives in Brooklyn.

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