What Are The Benefits of Using A Rotary Tattoo Machine Liner Voltage?

In tattooing, rotary tattoo machine liner voltage matters. Too low of a power setting and the needle will not penetrate the skin properly. Too high of a power setting and you risk burning your client’s skin or even cutting it. In this post, we’ll outline how to determine what is the right rotary tattoo machine liner voltage for your needs as well as provide some guidance on how to choose one that fits your budget.

Rotary Tattoo Machine Liner Voltage Adjustment
Photo: Rotary Tattoo Machine Liner Voltage Adjustment

Credit: Instagram @ inkintattoosupply

How To Get The Best Rotary Tattoo Machine Liner Voltage

For the best rotary tattoo machine liner voltage, follow these steps:

  • The first step in determining your power setting is to figure out what type of needle grouping you will be using. For example, if you are primarily going to use a round shader group with needles ranging from one needle up to fifteen needles this would require a higher voltage than just say an eight needle ringed shader which only requires about half as much energy and therefore half as powerful of a motor/power supply combination.
  • To determine how many electromagnetic coils we need we pull the cartridge apart and measure the number of windings on each coil (you can also do this by counting them). By multiplying that number times .00075 volts per coil or wattage times the number of coils we get a good approximation of the voltage needed.
  • To determine power, you take your desired volts and divide it by .00075 (this is going to give you amps). So if for example, I need three v on my rotary tattoo machine liner, that’s four electromagnetic coils which would be 12v but since each coil needs .00075 amps (.0012 total) this means with four coils I am looking at needing around 15-amps.

These are some things to consider when looking at different types of rotary tattoo machines in terms of liner voltages: For shader rotaries, most liners run between about 14 or 16 watts per inch while undercutting machines usually operate best closer to 13 watts per inch. Shaders run anywhere from about 16 to 20 volts depending on the size of the shader. Undercut liners generally need more amps than a shader which means you are looking at somewhere around 18-20 watts per inch and 16 -18v respectively.

Rotary tattoo machine liner voltage is an important factor when it comes to choosing your power supply unit for your rotary setup.

A lot goes into determining what type of rotary tattoo machine liner voltage will best suit your needs but in general: round shader groupings require higher voltages like 14 or 16wpi, undercutting machines usually operate better closer to 13wpi and use between 18-20 watts per inch while single needle linear units might be as low as 11wpi (although not common).

Rotary Tattoo Machine Voltage Settings

The first thing to know is that there are three main settings on a rotary tattoo machine: speed, voltage, and contact time.

Speed: Determines how fast the needle bar moves during your session.

Voltage: Determines how much power from your electrical source gets distributed to the motor in order to move the needles.

Contact Time: Controls how long the needle stays in contact with the skin during your session, which is measured in milliseconds (ms).

There are also two main settings when it comes to rotary machines that need to be considered for multiple reasons including maintenance on the motor itself along with safety concerns. These settings include power source frequency, voltage control type, and polarity switch position/type.

Power Source Frequency: Refers to either 50hz or 60htz depending on where you live outside of America because different countries have different frequencies!

Voltage control type: This can vary from a standard dial knob found on most American tattoo guns today to a digital display screen or even an LED screen showing specific numbers or bars representing different voltage levels.

Polarity Switch: This switch determines how the power is distributed to the machine and can vary from a knob with positive and negative signs on it, which means you’ll be using both sides of your needle bars at once or just one side!

This information should help you out when considering buying new rotary tattoo gear or simply understanding the basics of rotary tattoo machines.

What Voltage To Run A Rotary Tattoo Machine?

Running a rotary tattoo machine on the proper voltage is very important. If you run your rotary at too high of an rpm, it can cause your needle to jump and lead to inconsistent lining or shading. When running a rotary at too low of an RPM (rotations per minute) will also affect the quality of your work because it may make parts look like they’re fading in and out when actually increasing speed across lines. The best way to determine whether you should be running between 1000-3000 RPMs is by testing different speeds with small pieces such as test swatches before using them on larger tattoos.

The standard rule for determining what voltage to use revolves around where in the world you are located. In the USA, you want to use between 60-100 volts. If your rotary tattoo machine is designed for 110v then you should have no problem powering it with that voltage range. However, if are running a 220v supply or another type of electric system where there’s significantly less power than in the US (i.e., Europe), then we recommend using somewhere around 30-50 voltages when operating your rotary tattoo machines.

What Voltage To Run A Liner Tattoo Machine?

Different tattoo machines require different voltages. You can use a multimeter or voltage tester to find out what your machine is running on. You will need at least 50 volts for the needle part of the liner, and between 75 and 150 volts for shading needles.

When converting amps into volts. Be sure that you never exceed 200 watts. The easiest way to do this without risking damage to your equipment is by using an extension cord with built-in outlets. However, make certain not to overload an electrical outlet (or circuit breaker if you are using one). Improper use of the machine can result in personal injury or damage to property. It is best to check with an experienced professional before attempting these conversions yourself!

Can You Use A Rotary Tattoo Machine For Lining And Shading?

You can use a rotary machine for lining if you are new to tattooing, but you will get better results with needle machines. Rotary machines aren’t good at shading because the speed of the motor affects how much color it deposits and having too fast or too slow of a speed isn’t dependable when lining and shading (and is also not good for your skin). If you want to work in larger areas where there would be more time between passes, then that means using an open-toe foot pedal which requires another level of hand/eye coordination since timing becomes even more important.

What Is A Power Liner Tattoo Machine?

A power liner tattoo machine uses either rotary or linear motors to provide the vibrating force needed for needle movement. Linear motors are most common, but if you have enough room in your shop, go with rotaries because of their strength and durability. Both will give you good results as long as they’re set up correctly by an experienced technician who knows how to use each one properly.

Power liners use interchangeable cartridges that fit into the body housing unit where all electrical connections take place. You can find these machines with various cartridge sizes ranging from small dermal points up to large magnum needles that cover the nearly a two-inch distance between collars on the front of motor housings (that’s the part of a tattoo machine that holds and attaches needles to cartridges).

These machines also have an adjustable knob for controlling both the stroke length (how far each needle will travel before being pulled back into its protective covering) and speed. The level of power available in these machines is partly determined by how many rotary motors you use in your cartridge setup. More motors equal more power, but it can also add weight when using larger bodies because they require so much energy to function properly under high speeds. Power liners are not as popular with artists or studios due to their size and noise factor, but if you’re running multiple side-by-side stations at any given time, this type may be worth considering if you find one that fits your budget.


We have discussed in detail above why the liner voltage of a rotary tattoo machine is important. We also learned how to set the voltage setting of a rotary tattoo machine which can be a very useful guideline for beginners. Then why the delay? Buy your new rotary tattoo machine today and do the voltage setting work yourself!