When you think of tattoo guns, someone like Thomas Edison would probably be the last person you would think of. But in reality he invented the tattoo gun, along with hundred of other things. He called it an electric ink pen. He envisioned it being used as a duplicating device. It did not take long for someone to realize it could be used to put ink into the skin, creating a tattoo.This was the foundation of the rotary tattoo gun. Changes were made to improve the design but not the simplicity on which it was based. Many modern tattoo guns are based on electromagnet technology. Mechanically speaking these are the two types of guns used in the art.
A rotary machine uses an electric motor to dive the needle. Because of the simplicity of this device, this is the design for most homemade and prison tattoo guns. All you need is an electric motor from any small electrical appliance, a guitar string to serve as a needle, an ink pen and some tape and you are pretty much set to make one of these.
The most commonly used tattoo gun today is the coil tattoo machine. They use electromagnetic circuits to move the needle. While single and even triple coils are used, the standard is double coil. This machine is less traumatic causing less bleeding and swelling making them popular.
From a technical standpoint, you also have to types of machines, liners and shaders. Liners are used to create lines in a single pass that stand out from the rest of the ink. This is done by making the machine cycle faster. Shaders are used to shade. Usually it is used with black ink, but you can use other colors. You can also use it for sculpting lines or retracing them. It cycles much slower causing the difference in appearance from the liner.Pneumatic tattoo machines are also available. They use an air compressor for power. The major benefit to these is the simplicity in cleaning. The machine does not need to be taken apart for cleaning like the others saving a lot of time and hassle. There are other less popular types on the market as well.
Just like buying anything that has a motor or electrical parts, price and quality vary greatly. Which is why many successful tattoo artists design their own tattoo guns and offer them for sale. Every artist has his or her own preferences. You can get a tattoo gun for anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars. Or if you really wanted to you could build your own.Tattooing is a form of art, but unlike other forms of art, when you make a mistake it can be serious. So, make sure you receive the proper training before tattooing anyone. You can give them and infection or worse, give them a horrible tattoo they have to live with for the rest of their life.