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A Little Information About Tattoo Machines

By Frederick Michaels McKinnon

The very first tattoo gun was created in the late 1800s by none other than Thomas Edison in his unconscious need to become the world record holder for the greatest number of patents. These early tattoo machines were used to do engravings onto wood and other material. Soon after, a gentleman called Samuel O’Reilly came along and found that Edison’s device could be slightly changed and used to carve ink onto human skin. Samuel became known as the father of contemporary tattooing, if they knew who he was, the drunken, tribal-tattooed frat boys of modern time would probably shake his hand.

Although the art of tattooing has been around long before Samuel O’Reilly, his modification of the gun caused the culture to really take off. The art has steadily maintained its popularity with each passing decade. The ban on tattoos in America has even begun to be lifted and is leading to a prosperous increase of tattoo parlors and shops.

The first kind of tattoo machine worth knowing anything about is referred to as a Liner. A Liner is accountable for engraving the outline of a tattoo. The Liner uses needles that revolve circularly to carve the ink on the flesh.

Next is the Shader, it is used to paint in color and shadows. This device is a lot heavier than the Liner thanks to its large needles that it uses. The Shader is also a little more powerful so that it can shade in vast areas.

The next tattoo machine is called a Rotary and it is a hybrid which can function as either a Shader or Liner. It runs on a wheel system rather than a coil, unlike the first two devices. It is the quietest tattoo gun but one that is a hassle to use since using it for both coloring and outlining requires changing needles.

The newest type of tattoo gun is called a Neuma. This device runs on compressed air which makes it extremely quiet. It is also the lightest tattoo machine due to the absence of coils and wheels. The Neuma can be used for any part of the tattooing process and has easily detachable needles for simplicity.

Tattoo guns have come a long way from the time of Edison. In the past few centuries they have made several upgrades to how tattoos are preformed. With every improvement to the tattoo machine, safety is vastly upgraded.

Tattoo machines are readily available to buy from online sites but unless you are trained and highly confident in your abilities in using one, it is highly advisable that you leave it to the professionals. If however you are a professional and wish to look into buying tattoo machines.

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
McKinnon, Frederick M. "A Little Information About Tattoo Machines." A Little Information About Tattoo Machines. 17 Aug. 2010. 20 Aug 2014 <>.

APA Style Citation:
McKinnon, F (2010, August 17). A Little Information About Tattoo Machines. Retrieved August 20, 2014, from

Chicago Style Citation:
McKinnon, Frederick M. "A Little Information About Tattoo Machines"

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