Ink is a one time use commodity, only once per customer.
Keep your ink in a container, and dispense the appropriate amount into a disposable cup for use on a customer, and throw away any excess.
Ink comes premixed, or in powder form. When using premixed ink shake well before dispensing, and if the ink is clumpy, or too pasty, you may have to add some alcohol to thin it out. A neat little trick is to place a few stainless steel balls in your inkbottles to aid in the mixing when you shake your bottle, sort of like a paint can.
Powdered ink should be dry heat sterilized before mixing with a thinning agent. Powdered ink is then mixed with sterilized filtered water, alcohol, and glycol. Others thin their ink with witch hazel or Listerine. Most powdered ink dispersions come with a technical sheet describing a mixture ratio.
A scale and a small mixer will greatly aid in getting a good ink consistency. Place the appropriate amount of ink in a disposable cup. In the cup mix the ink with a sterile stirring stick to ensure consistency. Dip your running gun into the ink well and let the ink fill the reservoir of your needle tube tip your now ready to apply some ink. Or just place the end of your tube in the ink well and do not run your gun...this will ensure you don't fishhook your needles by bouncing them off your plastic ink cup.
First we will cover using pre-made needles soldered onto bars. IF the needles have not been sterilized yet, do so before use, refer to sterilization. Remove the sterile tube and needle combination. Slightly bend the needle with the low point of the bend on the opposite side of the soldered needles.
Bend the needle bar about a three-inch distance from the eye to the end so you have a very slight bow. The bend should not be more than 1/8 of an inch to 1/4 of an inch from a straight line. This adds a degree of tension to keep the needle bar on the armature and provided a bow for the rubber bands to find a nitch
1. Needle installation: With a fully assembled tattoo gun, place a new or disinfected rubber grommet onto the nub on the armature bar. Looking at the front of the gun, place the loop of the needle bar over this grommet, with the open end facing left. This positions the needles toward the back of the tube.
2. Tube installation: Slide the appropriate tube up over the needle bar assembly, pay extreme care to when the tips of the needles approach the tube tip, slide the needle tips thru and tighten the yoke on the tube.
3. Move your armature bar up and down to ensure free movement.
4. Install a few rubber bands around your machine, these should be at mid coil, and wrap around your needle bar. The rubber bands provide tension for your needle bar and keep the loop tight on your grommet and keep the needle from walking.
5. If working off your tube, adjust the tube up or down so the needle tips barely extend out when the armature bar is up. Move the armature bar down and ensure the needles extend a minimum of 1/16 of an inch. With practice you may want to increase the overhang of your needles when you are comfortable with depth control.
6. The gap of your points basically determines your needle movement, so you can deter mine your needle stroke by adjusting your point distance.
7. On flat needles it is important to fan the needle tips so the outer needles are in contact with the needle tube tip. This prevents needle wobbling. After a few uses tube tips \ should be filed to remove wear marks from the needle movement.
A tattoo machine works using a basic principle. Two coils are attached to a spring, and thus attached to a power supply. When the gun is in a state with no power applied a spring holds two contacts together. The lower contact point is also attached to the coils, and the tattoo needle. When power is applied to the circuit, the coils become magnetic, pulling the armature bar, and spring down, and the contacts break, opening the electrical circuit. The spring forces the armature bar upwards, bringing the contacts together, completing the circuit again. This causes the coils to pick up and pull down the armature bar, breaking the contacts, well over and over again moving the needle up and down...to fast in most cases for the human eye to see, the hum you hear are the contacts making and breaking. To understand how to set up your tattoo gun, you must understand what all the parts of the gun do:
1. Tattoo gun frame...This is what holds it all together...some frames are made of stainless steel, others aluminum, and so on...the shapes and weights of the frames greatly affect the vibration of the working gun. A heavier gun will absorb more energy from the coils, thus reducing the vibration felt by the person holding it. Some artists choose their guns based upon weight...lighter gives you less fatigue, but heavier makes for better shading...The particular frame pictured has a built in yoke, the yoke is what the coils rest upon, the negative point of contact. (The two holes in the bottom of the frame). This frame has a standard screw operated chuck. (The screw head closest to the coils) This chuck is where the top of the tube is inserted, and thus tightened after needle depth has been determined.
2. Coils, most conventional tattoo guns are equipped with two matching coils. The coils vary in size and number of wraps, but in most cases are between 8 wrap and 12 wrap coils...wraps being the number of times the wire is coiled around the hollow spool, which is the body of the coil. Inside this hollow spool is a core, which moves up ordown depending on the magnetic flux developed by the outside coils, attached to this core is a spring to return it to its normal state condition when power is not applied.
3. Capacitor The capacitor saves the points of the gun reducing sparking.
4. Front and Rear binding posts The front binding post usually contains a contact screw made of sterling silver. The contact screw can have a removable contact point at the end of the threads. The contact screw can be adjusted up and down to lengthen or tighten the gap between your points. An old guide is a dimes thickness between points for a liner, and a nickels thickness for shading. The rear binding post will serve as the positive attachment to your powers supply. As with the front both binding posts have rubber grommets to electrically isolate them from the gun frame.
5. Armature Bar This rests on the top of the coils, and bolts to the machine spring with contact points. This bar will move up and down moving the needle bar. At the end of the bar is a small nipple. A rubber grommet is placed on this nipple and the eyelet of the needle bar is placed over the rubber grommet.
6. Machine Springs: This spring provides the return tension for the armature bar after it lowers when the points make contact and drive the armature bar downward.
7. Rubber bands They are applied around the machine all the way from the back of the frame (near the power connection), to the front of the needle bar. The rubber bands give the needle bar tension so the needles do not vibrate quite so much, move front to
8. Washers Use these for proper spacing
9. Tube: the tube has two to three basic parts...
The tube itself is nothing more than a round piece of tubing (preferably stainless steel). The end of the tube is formed to accept various tips, from flared round tips, to flat tips, there is no limit to what type of tip you can use, only your imagination and trials.
The last part of the tube is the grip; the grip can be part of the tube, or a separate piece. Grips can be made of stainless steel, aluminum, plastic, rubber any material that cannot withstand the temperatures of an autoclave should be treated as one time use disposable.
Needle bar ...The needle bar is a stainless steel heavy gauged wire approximately. ...5 5/8 long with one end forming a loop, and the other end being round or flat depending on the type of needle cluster to be soldered on to it.
Needle Cluster...The needles for tattooing are not like the needles used in a hypodermic syringe. The needles are not hollow, and are generally about an inch long and finer than a standard straight pin. There is no cap at the end of the needle.
One needle soldered to a needle bar would be a single, three needles soldered together in a triangle would be considered a tight or semi tight 3, the above could be used as liners.
Other needle types could be 6 needles soldered in a row, flat, this is called a flat 6, commonly used as a shader. There are many variations on needles including singles tight and semi-tight 3,4,5s flat 3,4,5,6,7 up to 14, magnum 5,6,7-15, floppy 8s, round shaders, etc. Refer to making needles for more information.
So those are the basic parts of a tattoo gun, setting it up: When working with a client, you must take extreme care to ensure your equipment is clean, disinfected, and sterilized when in use. Before assembling your gun to work on a client, all parts should have been autoclaved where applicable, disinfected, and cleaned. Wear latex gloves during the assembly process, because once you remove parts from there sterile packages, they are no longer sterile, so utmost care must be taken not to contaminate them.
Take the assembled gun, ensure it is clean, and wipe it down with a cleaning agent and disinfect. Attach a rubber grommet to the end of the armature bar. Select the needle assembly you plan on using, slightly bend the needle bar, just barely, almost can't see it. (This provided a solid contact for the rubbberbands, and proper contact of the needles and the tip.
Insert the desired needle bar and needle assembly thru the tube clamping assembly and onto the rubber grommet with the opening in the loop facing left (as looking at the front of the machine). Carefully insert the needle bar assembly into the proper tube, and slide the tube up until the needles approach the tube tip, at this point be very careful not to damage your needle tips when guiding them through the tip. Insert the tube into the chuck and temporarily tighten.
Check the contact points to ensure they are in good condition. Pitted or worn contacts should be replaced. If you are using this gun as a liner, set the contacts approximately the width of a dime apart (width of a nickel for a shader), and tighten the screw, which holds the contact screw in place.
Place rubber bands around your gun, to tension the needle bar toward the back of the tube. Look at this point; the needle bar should not be rubbing the tube.
Move your armature bar up and down to assure free movement, and to assure your needle bar loop is seated on your grommet. If you plan to work off your tube, adjust your tube so the needles are 1/16 of an inch out when the armature bar is pulled down.
If you are working off your needles let the needles overhand the end of your tip a 32 nd of an inch or so...or whatever you are comfortable with.
Attach your power supply and your ready to use your gun. Turn on your power, and listen to your gun, a smooth sound with needle movement between 1/16 th of an inch and 3/32nd of an inch. Turn the contact adjusting screw up or down to achieve your proper setting for your desired speed, or voltage. When setting down your gun, have a clean disinfected area for storage, or a clean slot in your ultrasonic cleaner.
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