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Coil or Rotary Machines: Which is the best?

Posted: March 9, 2017 at 11:40 am

Every artist new to tattooing is faced by the same dilemma, ‘which machine should I use?’ ‘Should it be the dual coil machines or should it be the rotary machines?’ To settle this dispute, it is advisable that you get yourself acquainted on how these machines operate, what are the advantages and disadvantages of these machines and what sets them apart from each other? If you find yourself in a similar fix then the information in this article may help you to decide which machine is better for you.

Operational Differences between Coil and Rotary Machines

rotary tattoo machine What truly sets the two types of machines apart is what drives the needles. In the coil tattoo machines, electromagnetic current passes through the coils to draw and release the armature bar which in turn injects and retracts the needles. These machines are more commonly used by the tattoo artists these days largely due to two factors – it is readily available and relatively inexpensive. If your memory of a tattoo shop is of a buzzing sound you heard while you passed it by, then it was the coil machines which were at work. Rotary machines on the other hand are extremely quiet while operating. The needles in a rotary machine move up and down with the help of small motor which is encased in each machine. The presence of a motor makes the movement of these needles extremely smooth which ensures an even impact on the skin.

Coil Machines vs Rotary Machines

According to several authors, the advantages of Rotary machines greatly outweigh those of the dual coil machines. The most notable differences between the two is that the rotary machines provide smooth lines and shading. There are a few other advantages of Rotary tattoo machines are as follows: rotary or coil tattoo machines


Coil tattoo machines have two coils and iron rods and this makes the machine quite heavy for the artist. An artist is more likely to be tired after a long day’s use of a coil machine. Since Rotary machines operate on motor they are significantly lighter than coil machines making them more comfortable to handle. Due to the lightweight nature of rotary machines artists can work longer at a single sitting without getting cramps in their hands and fingers thus reducing the possibility of mistakes.


The noise generated from the electromagnetic switching of coils can be quite intimidating for users who are getting a tattoo done for the first time. This can make them nervous and may result in twitching of body which increases the risk of damage to the skin. Rotary machines are known to create much less noise giving an impression to first time users that the process is going to be less painful.


One of the biggest drawbacks of a coil tattoo machine is that it can either create lines or shades but not both. Due to this limitation an artist is required to have both the types of machines in order to create tattoos which have a complicated design. A rotary tattoo machine can create both lines and shades and this can be simply done by selecting a different needle. In this way, the benefits of a rotary coil machine outnumber the benefits of a coil tattoo machine making it a better choice for tattoo artists. However there may be contradictions to our conclusion as different artists have different preferences. So, an artist should check for themselves which machine is better for their craft.

As seen in

Total Tattoo Magazine
Skin Deep Magazine

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