Every good tattoo artist will invest in an equally good tattoo stencil machine, but what is it, how do you use it, and which are the best ones?
A tattoo stencil machine is a piece of equipment that helps to transfer a pre-made design on special paper before it is inked onto the body.
Like having a great wireless tattoo machine, having this tool makes a lot of sense. This reduces any room for mistakes, helps to change the design, and makes the work neater overall.
As with most things in this fascinating niche, there are various machines to look at.
Each of them is also broadly classified under two groups, which we will consider further below.
We introduce some of the best on the market and what makes them different.
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Best Tattoo Stencil Machine
We have handpicked five (5) on the market today. No matter your needs, these picks will get the job done.
Eclipse got a bit of a bad rap in the market for the V2 model, which was not unjustified.
This thermal tattoo printer was not wrong at what it did – it just didn’t get it done in the best way.
Many users complained about the machine overheating, which caused it to trip off or get damaged sometimes.
No one wants to have such an unreliable piece of equipment on their hands, no matter how good it does its job.
Fortunately, the new V3 version fixes all that.
This tattoo stencil printer is much smaller and lighter than its predecessor.
Users get a new LED adjustment knob and a paper feed sensor for automatic operation.
Addressing more issues from the first model, a quick cooling functionality has been built into this machine.
Though a thermal printer, it is ironically helpful that you don’t have to worry about heat damage anymore.
S8 stencil printer
The S8 Stencil Printer ushers in a new wave of printing stencils to make tattoo artists’ work even faster and easier.
Although the machine still uses traditional thermal stencil paper, it relies on digital feedback to get the images out.
Thus, you can connect your laptop to the printer via USB to generate stunning stencils.
This beats having to draw all of your stencils by hand.
If you are a newbie, this machine will help refine your drawing skills to find a place in the market.
This stencil printer also pairs well with iOS devices, allowing you to print stencils from Apple smartphones wirelessly.
With a Li-Ion battery in the mix, you can print stencils on the go with the portable unit.
Biomaster tattoo transfer machine
Yet another thermal tattoo stencil printer, this pick from Biomaster is also one of the most affordable that we have come across.
The massive price savings sounds good, but not for any artist who wants to print complex designs, intricate shadows, or generate multiple effects.
You will be better off with other thermal printers on this list.
If you are looking to print simple lines and designs with single effects, you are in the right place here.
If you were wondering, this affordable thermal printer works with printed and drawn images.
With added functionality for mirror copy images, get your thermal stencil paper ready for some of the crispest and cleanest transfers.
Wormhole tattoo stencil machine
Wormhole also takes the smart route with this printer, allowing connection for printing via Bluetooth.
You don’t always have to go cordless, like the new generation of tattoo machines.
The thermal tattoo stencil printer supports a USB cord for phone and computer connections.
The brand has also worked on an Android app for smoother mobile connectivity, but that solution is a little buggy right now.
We know it has been returned to the pipeline, so we should have that feature shortly.
The ease of operation, minimal power consumption, and overall viability of this machine for thermal printing make it a top pick any day.
Epson tattoo stencil printer
The best thing about the Epson tattoo stencil printer, right out of the box, is that you need neither of the thermal or hectograph stencil paper to make it work.
Feed the machine with regular printer paper, and you are good to go.
Epson also fits their machine with an EcoTank. That is a fancy word for a large tank where you can store ink for extensive printing operations.
That comes in handy when you realize that the machine can print up to 20 stencil pages per minute.
Epson’s top models can scan, copy, and print, just like a regular modern-day printer would.
With added functionality for USB and Wi-Fi, you get even more printing options at your fingertips.
Ahhh, but you need something else to have full usability as a tattoo stencil machine.
You will have to buy an Inkjet stencil printer. For now, the most popular one among artists is:
But if your budget doesn’t allow it, this could be an alternative:
Both inks are suitable for most Epson Ecotank printer models.
Types of Tattoo Stencil Machine
All stencil machines are not the same. They are usually of two (2) broad categories, which we have explained below.
Also called thermal printers, these machines (like most of the above ones explained) leverage heat transfer to bring the stencil to life on the thermal paper.
These printers use an old type of carbon paper that is no longer in use for general printing.
Formerly native to the printing press, these tattoo stencil papers are now produced mainly for the tattoo industry and other artists with related specialties.
Thermal printers can get hot, but they do good work representing the design details.
People usually want to know if typical printers can also be used to print tattoo stencils.
That depends on what you describe as ‘normal.
There are various regular printers, some of which can be used to print stencils. We look at some common printers below:
These were one of the early printers that tattoo artists used for their craft.
Some of these machines are still around today and are the most preferred for some pro artists.
Dot-matrix printers will churn out great stencils with carbon paper.
Some artists prefer them to thermal printers because of how long they can last on average and the resolutions you can get on the printout.
When considering temporary tattoos, laser printers can come into the mix.
Some of these can get very detailed in their image result, but they should never be considered for serious work.
When clients are unsure what tattoo they want, you can use the laser printer to create their designs (not stencil).
Like the Epson tattoo stencil printer above, an inkjet model can also be used to generate excellent stencils.
You usually don’t need any particular paper on these, so you have some cost savings.
For an inkjet printer to even be considered for stencils, though, there needs to be a special ink tank on board as that is where the ink goes.
From temporary tattoos to permanent designs, details of the design to the simplicity of drawing, you have all the possible picks you might need up there.
Fortunately, no law prohibits you from picking more than one machine for different needs.
If you were a rookie in the industry, investing in something affordable could be an excellent alternative. Honestly, I think you should try to go for a good model.
The above statement is because these machines are going to last for a long time, and why not start solid? From the above explanations, the best tattoo stencil machine for the job will depend on what you want to achieve. Do you want a professional tattoo machine but not a stencil with quality?