How is a professional tattoo gun made?

By | January 19, 2014

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In the United States, scientists estimate that nearly 35 percent of the population from 18 to 30 years old has been tattooed. That translates to nearly 16,000 artists working in the body-art field, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This means everyday, individuals are receiving tattoos, and artists are using tattoo guns to administer those tattoos.


Tattoos have been in existence for thousands of years, dating back to as early as 2000 B.C. They have been found in most cultures, and typically carried a specific meaning, such as spiritual and health. Permanent skin marking has moved throughout history, landing to the 1990s and 2000s, where tattoos are commonplace.


There are certain pieces of equipment necessary for the tattoo artist. These tools of the trade begin with a simple piece of paper and pen. From there, carbon paper, copy machine and colored pencils round out the drawing stage. The artist also needs a razor to shave the area to be tattooed, gloves, paper towels and cleanser. Lastly, and most importantly ink and a tattoo gun are used for making a permanent image.

Tattoo Gun

The tattoo gun is the most important instrument for tattooing an image onto the skin. The gun is electric, and has needles that take the ink and inject it just under the skin. This process, when completed, results in an image forever a part of the client. Construction of the tattoo gun is important to the artist, as this is an important tool of the trade. The modern gun was invented in 1891 by Samuel O’Reilly.


The tattoo gun is constructed to use electricity to move a needle up and down, injecting ink just under the top layer of skin. There is a magnetic vibrator that allows for this up and down movement of the needle. The needles in the gun can enter the skin between 50 and 3000 per minute, and are installed next to a tube that sucks ink into the machine and distributes via the needles. The artists use a foot pedal to to control the tattoo gun.

Artist and the Tattoo Gun

The tattoo gun is similar to a drill used by dentists, and even has a similar sound, which is very distinct. The construction is simple, much like the circuit of a doorbell. The artist chooses a tattoo gun for comfort and ease of use, as this tool may be held and used for hours and hours on any given day.


Centers for Disease Control: Body art

Design Boom: A brief history of tattoos

More Information:

Captain Bret’s Tattoo Shop, Inc. How Tattoos Work

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