Wondering why your Tattoo Machine Won’t Start? You’re not alone:
I get it: as a tattoo artist, your tattoo machine is the life of your business.
More so, you need it to function and work properly daily to ink your clients and create fantastic art.
If you’re bewildered by all of this, don’t be: keep reading to find out how to get your machine going again…
Table of Contents
- Tattoo machines should always be handled with care to extend their lifespan and power
- Tattoo machines require the right amount of voltage to work correctly
- Tattoo machine needles need to be properly inserted and tightened into their tubes
- The power source must have enough amps for the tattoo machine to reach its optimal performance level
Why Won’t Your Tattoo Machine Start?
Ok, before I get into why your tattoo machine won’t start, let me tell you something about tattoos and the soul:
Here is what talented tattooist Hakan Adik says about the wonder of tattoos: “I think people like to carry the works that touch their lives and souls on their bodies. ”
So, if tattoos are intrinsically meaningful, tattoo machines are needed to give them heart, right?
Here’s something crucial: If your tattoo machine doesn’t start, it could be for several reasons.
There are a few reasons why your tattoo machine might not be starting, and the below sections are here to help you through some of the most COMMON troubleshooting questions.
Whether you have a coil machine or a rotary machine, the answers are here.
The Throw is Weak
One of the most common reasons your tattoo machine will not start is that the throw is too WEAK.
Several DIFFERENT issues can cause this, but more often than not, it’s simply due to a worn-out spring or an improperly adjusted contact screw.
It could also be that the needle is jammed, so it’s worth checking if this is the case BEFORE attempting any other repairs.
If the issue isn’t due to a jam, check your spring and contact screw for any signs of WEAR or damage.
The Grip is Loosening
Another issue that can cause a tattoo machine not to start is if the grip is LOOSENING on the tattoo gun.
An improperly tightened set screw or a worn-out grip can cause this effect. TIGHTENING your set screw and replacing your grip should solve the problem.
Additionally, make sure your grip is PUSHED all the way onto the machine. If it’s not, then this could be causing problems with the power source.
The Grip is Coming Out at a Slant
Sometimes, the grip may be coming out of the tattoo machine at a slant.
An IMPROPERLY adjusted armature bar is likely to blame – or poor contact between the needle and tube.
Make sure that your armature bar is properly adjusted and that there is GOOD contact between the needle and tube.
You can also check to MAKE SURE that the needle is properly inserted and tightened into its tube.
You can do this with a pair of pliers or an adjustable wrench if necessary.
It Keeps Cutting Out
If your tattoo machine keeps cutting out, it could be due to several things. It may be that the voltage is too LOW or that there isn’t enough power going to the tattoo machine.
Make sure you use a compatible power source and that your machine is properly GROUNDED.
Additionally, the tattoo power supply must have ENOUGH amps for your tattoo machine to reach its optimal performance level .
Pro Tip: You might find that you have a faulty clip cord or foot pedal, so check these first to see if they are the issue.
It Only Runs on Max Voltage
Sometimes, tattoo machines may only run on MAX voltage. If this is the case, it could be due to a worn-out capacitor or an improperly adjusted contact screw.
Check these and make any necessary ADJUSTMENTS to get your tattoo machine running again.
You can also check to ensure there isn’t a SHORTAGE in the power cord. If all of these checks turn negative, it may be time for a new capacitor or contact screw.
The Front Spring and Contact Screw are Sparking
If the front spring and contact screw are sparking, it may be due to POOR contact between them or a worn-out coil.
Ensure that your tattoo machine is properly grounded and that there is good CONTACT between the front spring and the contact screw.
The rear spring may also have been wound too tight, which can cause sparking in a coil tattoo machine.
Pro Tip: This problem is usually seen in coil machines and tends to be less of an issue in rotary tattoo machines.
Additionally, check for any VISIBLE signs of corrosion or damage on the coil. If there is, then it may be time to replace it.
The Needles are Chewing the Skin
If the needles are chewing the skin, it could be due to a worn-out needle bar or an IMPROPERLY adjusted armature bar and contact screw.
Make sure you check your tattoo machine and make any NECESSARY adjustments to get tattoo machine running again.
Also, ensure that you use the correct tattoo needle size for the job.
Smaller needles can cause MORE damage and lead to a poor-quality tattoo, so it’s important to use the right size for your project.
Pro Tip: Ensure the needle depth is also at the right setting. Tattoo needles need to be properly adjusted before use.
The Tattoo Machine is Overheating
Finally, if your tattoo machine is overheating, the culprit may be a worn-out motor or an improperly adjusted contact screw.
Make sure you CHECK your tattoo machine and make any necessary adjustments to get your tattoo machine running again.
You can also check the motor for any visible signs of corrosion or DAMAGE. If there is, then it may be time to replace it.
Why Has My Tattoo Machine Stopped Working After I Took it Apart?
Sometimes tattoo machines may STOP working after they are taken apart. This could be due to poor contact between the parts or damage to the tattoo machine during assembly.
Pro Tip: Make sure you check all of the parts for any damage and make adjustments to get your tattoo machine running again.
These are some of the most common reasons tattoo machines won’t start. If the problem persists, it may be time to contact a PROFESSIONAL repair company.
They can diagnose and repair your tattoo machine so you can get back to doing what you love.
If you’re the visual type – or simply have ink fever after all the reading – feel free to check out this terrific video on some fixes for tattoo machines:
Frequently Asked Questions
What Does a Capacitor Do on a Tattoo Machine?
A capacitor stores electrical energy, which is used to power the tattoo machine.
It is an essential part of a tattoo machine because it helps to regulate the power and works to try and prevent overheating.
How Long Do Tattoo Machines Last?
A tattoo machine has an average lifespan of 10-15 years with proper maintenance and care.
If you clean your machine and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for general care, you won’t have to replace it for a long time.
Now that you know a bit more about why your tattoo machine won’t start, let me wrap it all up:
Tattoo machines are complex pieces of equipment, and there could be SEVERAL reasons why your tattoo machine will not start.
If you need help diagnosing the issue, contact a professional repair company to get your machine RUNNING again.
Make sure you always follow SAFETY protocols when using any power tool, and never attempt repairs on your own if you don’t feel comfortable.
With PROPER care and maintenance, your tattoo machine should last many years.
Now that you’re psyched to know more, learn more, and discover the best, please let me know about anything new – I’d love to hear from you!
Until next time…
1. Morrow J. Future Forward: 2019 Tattoo Trend Forecast [Internet]. Tattoodo. 2019 [cited 2023 Jan 27]. Available from: https://www.tattoodo.com/articles/future-forward-2019-tattoo-trend-forecast-14334
2. Sun-Hi N. What do you do if your tattoo machine won’t turn on? | Finddiffer.com [Internet]. finddiffer.com. [cited 2023 Jan 27]. Available from: https://finddiffer.com/what-do-you-do-if-your-tattoo-machine-wont-turn-on/