Using a Coil but Eyeing a Rotary Machine? Article Image
Import-20231108 Friday, June 22, 2018
Using a Coil but Eyeing a Rotary Machine?

So, you’ve been using coil machines for years and you’re considering throwing a rotary into the mix. Well, Kingpin is here to help get you prepared

with seven things you can probably expect when picking up your first rotary machine:

A Different Kind of Maintenance

You won’t have to worry about keeping your contact screw carbon-free and cleaning the space between your coil tops and armature bar, but, with some rotaries, you’ll be making sure that your machine stays well lubricated.

The FK Irons Spektra Edge XSpektra Halo 2, the Bishop Rotary, and and several other Linear Drives on the market require routine lubrication. The lubricant is usually provided with rotaries that need it, and it’s applied directly to the slide, so you won’t have to worry about taking it apart. Direct Drive Rotaries, on the other hand, typically require little-to-no maintenance outside of a rare cam replacement.

Less of a Buzz

One of the first things that you’ll notice when running a rotary is the difference in volume. That sweet buzzing sound that you’ve grown accustomed to over the years is more like a raspy hum now, which might take a little getting used to.

Your Traditional Needles Might Not Be Making the Jump With You

While rotaries like the FK Irons Spektra Direkt 2, the FK Irons Spektra Halo 2, and the AXYS will accommodate your needle-on-bar, models like the Bishop Magi, the FK Irons Spektra Edge X, and the Cheyenne Hawk PenHawk Spirit, and Hawk Thunder will only work with Needle Cartridges.

Now, before you scream “DEAL BREAKER” and unplug your computer, rest assured that most, if not all, of your favorite groupings are still offered in Needle Cartridge form. For example, Envy Cartridges offer a huge selection of the same configurations you are used to working with and Cheyenne Safety Cartridges offer a wide range of groupings as well.

Less Weight, Less Shake

For the most part, rotaries will be lighter than a coil machine, and they’ll vibrate less while in use. The difference in both might not be night and day, but once you’re a few hours deep in your next tattoo, you’ll feel it.

Some Possible Disassembly

You’ll still be bagging your machine and wrapping up your grip, but there are a few rotaries out there that can really take your sterilization game to the next level. FK Irons Spektra Halo 2 and the AXYS each offer tool-less disassembly so that the body can be placed

A Change in Power (May


You might have to pick up a different type of cord, adapter, or an entirely different power supply in order to power that new rotary. You'll need a Start-Up Cable to run Cheyenne Hawk and Inkjecta Machines on certain power supplies, while others like The BanditThe Gunslinger, and all Critical Power Supplies only require a Mini-Jack Power Cord to get it done.

This is because Cheyenne Hawk and Inkjecta Machines require "Jump Start" capability, which is basically a higher power output at start-up that settles down to a consistent rate. Check out our blog that covers the different terms and features of power supplies to learn more!

A Bit of a Learning Curve

Ask two different tattooers which techniques they had to adjust when they started using a Rotary and you’ll get two different answers. One might say that you have to line more slowly than you would with a coil. Another might say that the lighter weight of the rotary was a challenge.

The big takeaway here is that tattooing with a rotary is different enough that you’ll want to take a little time to get comfortable with it. It might take you a matter of minutes to get there, or it might take a few tattoos, but, in the end, you’ll be back on the grind with a new addition to your setup.