PULSE-MATIC TATTOO MACHINES
No points, no sparks, no front spring and no capacitor!
The Pulse-Matic machine has developed a cult following around the world since the first model went on the market in 1989.
I first started building Tattoo machines back in the late '70's I started
with rotaries as they were the easiest to make. I found that they held
me back and because of their even power band they did not have much of
a punch. Fine for the smaller clusters like 3's and 5's but not so good
once you wanted to work with bigger clusters which would tend to bounce
off the skin rather then punch through so I needed to hold the skin excessively
tight and they were still not so nice to work with.
But there still seemed to be something not quite right about them and they too slowed me down. As an artist I wanted machines that I could tattoo with at a speed that suited me rather then have my creativity stifled because I was being held back by equipment. It's important to note here that it's not the speed that a tattoo machine runs at that allows you to work fast but how the tattoo machine "hits", I didn't understand this until I made my very first pulse-matic.
So here is my take on how all the various machines available around the world "hit", I believe you can assign all machines into one of three catorgeries. It's very important to realise that regardless of the type of machine an artist uses, techniques have been developed for all types, which when used correctly will allow someone with good skills to make beautiful tattoo art regardless of machine and at the end of the day if you are comfortable using rotaries, pneumatic machines or D. C. coils and you are happy with the results then that is all that counts.
1-ROTARIES. Because they are motor driven they generally have a very even power band, by that I mean that the power behind the needles when the cluster is half way down it's stroke and just before it bottoms out is constant, it does not get stronger or weaker as it travels through it's downward stroke. Because of this I find they lack penetration with larger clusters. A good rotary with small clusters will, in my opinion, cause less trauma then a DC machine when used correctly because they have very little give at the bottom of the stroke. If you set the needle depth at the tip then that's pretty much how much needle will go in the skin if the skin is stretched real tight to compensate for the lack of punch.
2-D.C. COILS. The
most popular machine out their, I made, sold and used DC machines for
over a decade and many great artists use DC which also leads to DC machines
being popular as many try to emulate the top artists. With the right set-up
with springs, coils, A-bars etc. you can get a DC machine to run fast
or slow, hard or soft. The power band of the DC machine is very different
to the rotary, the downwards stroke of the needles start from zero and
builds in speed and power as it progresses towards the end of the stroke,
but before the needles reach the end of the stroke the power turns off
at the coil so the needles rapidly lose speed and force right towards
the end of the stroke. This is their one major flaw! and every DC machine
ever made, regardless as to whether it's a shader or liner, lacks power
on at the bottom end of the stroke.
This is the only machine with a different power band to rotaries and DC
coil machines. These machines utilize the sine wave frequency of A.C.
power to move the A-bar. Like all machines it starts at zero (top of stroke)
and as the coil energises it pulls the A-bar down towards the coil, and
just like a DC machine the speed and power in the A-bar increases as it
travels down towards the top of the coil. Unlike a DC machine the power
on the coil increases right up to the time the A-bar bottoms out on top
of the coils. This means the needles, unlike either rotaries or DC machines,
get faster, with increasing force behind them all the way to the bottom
of the stroke. The advantage of this, apart from the fact that the skin
requires minimal stretching to get penetration, is that if you really
were capable of laying a 3 needle line at 22 mills per second, running
the machine at 130 Hz, as in the example above, then it's entirely possible
with a Pulse-Matic, ( not that I could line that fast and I doubt the
ink could keep up with the needle! ) because each footprint of colour
goes in deep enough with just one stroke. I am fortunate to be a fast
worker and I line faster then most artists I know with my Pulse-Matic
running at 100Hz. I can even make beautiful, sharp and clean, one pass
lines simply by using an 8 or 14 round #10 or #12 shader
bar straight out of the pack, I can solid fill an area of black
10mm square in 10-12 seconds, once again at 100Hz. Half the time of a
D.C machine with a lot less trauma to a clients skin.
As a machine builder and designer I can use anything I like and I have never used anything better then the pulse-matic and if any professional artist reading this wants to arrange with me to come to my studio and try them for themselves they are more then welcome and if they wanted some I am at this point in time happy to build them some, however I can't see myself building machines for much longer as to be honest I would rather spend the time tattooing!
Also I have posted a series of videos on youtube showing how I use the pulse-matic machine. The piece is a standard piece from Flash, and took just on 1 1/2 hours to complete. Sadly many in this industry like to look for things to criticise and to find fault with, but for those of you that have an open mind and are interested in seeing something that may be different to what you are using now, check it out! everything is done at 100Hz and please excuse the banter and un-professional nature of the production!
The links below are for the second session where we started to fill in the lower arm with some horses.
Below are just a few pictures of prototype tattoo machines I have built, many have been lost over the years and most were made over 20 years ago, the rotaries I would lend to artists to try that at the time were using other type rotaries and I had quite a hard job of it to get them back as they did not want to give them up! but to me they were all inferior to the pulse-matic so I was not interested in taking them further. I do note though that many new rotary designs on the market are very similar in basic design to some I made. Any machine builders that would like to take an idea from these machines and develop it further is welcome, and in particular the spring loaded point system I tried on the DC machines pictured was a big step up in design and could be developed into something very nice. (for those of you that like D. C.!)
around the world seem to be in competition with each other to see who
can make the lightest machine! 20 years ago we tested a coil machine that
weighed less then four ounces. After 2 hours using this machine the Artist
developed hand cramps and pain in the carpal area of the hand. This was
because the machine was so light it wanted to bounce off the skin and
the Artist needed to apply quite firm downwards pressure on the machine
to keep it on the skin. You will get used to the weight of a heavier machine
after a week or so of using it and it will never be a problem but with
an under weight machine you will always have hand pain and problems using
the vibration and noise dampers to the Armature Bar. Step 1, pull through
the Armature Bar with a pair of pliers, it's a good idea to hold the armature
bar in a vice for this procedure.
Step 2, cut at the ridge line with a pair of scissors.