The Tattoo Machine
The basic idea of the electrically powered tattoo machine is that a needle moves up and down like in a sewing machine, carrying ink into your skin in the process.

A tattoo machine involves a magnetic vibrator driving the needle up and down. Click here to see how the machine is assembled.

Today, a tattoo machine is an electrically powered, vertically vibrating steel instrument that resembles a dentistís drill (and sounds a little like it, too). It is fitted with solid needles that puncture the skin at the rate of 50 to 3,000 times a minute. The sterilized needles are installed in the machine and dipped in ink, which is sucked up through the machineís tube system. Then, powered by a foot switch much like that on a sewing machine, the tattoo machine uses an up-and-down motion to puncture the top layer of the skin and drive insoluble, micrometer-sized particles of ink into the second (dermal) layer of skin, about one-eighth inch deep.