News

Why my tattoo coil machine gets hot?

News
February 2, 2021
(5 min)

Have you ever needed to go up in voltage after a couple of hours of tattooing?

You have been tattooing for two hours in a row and you are nailing it down, you are happy but tired. Your coil machine is really hot and you have had to increase the voltage many times to keep up to the speed you want. Did this happen to you?

Artists ask us if this is normal and how can be improved, if possible.

The short answer is, yes, it is normal that you need to do that when your machine is getting hot, but if your machine is not hot and you also have to increase your voltage anyway, then start looking for a new power supply because the problem is not your machine.

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where do I have fluctuations in my tattoo machine?

So, why are you having those fluctionations? Well, there are 4 possible explanations:

  1. Main’s power is not estable.- This is one of the major reasons in some regions and even in some countries, but it is also the typical problem that plagues conventions. When this happens your equipment is just reflecting the main’s power dips.
  2. Tattoo power supply is inconsistent.- This use to golinked to poor quality power supplies, or also to a very old power supply with drained electrolytic capacitors. You will notice this because the the voltage is not clean and the fluctuations are smaller and usually associated to pressure on the skin (higher power demand).
  3. The machine has some internal failure.- This is not rare either, and it is recognizable because it use to happen in certain positions of the machine, because it is normally caused by a bad connection or a frame shortcircuit in the case of the coil machines.
  4. The clipcord (or RCA) cable is damaged.- This is probably the most frequent since the clipcord cable is the element that suffers the most: vibrations, bending, pulls, bumps… and we know that cables are not indestructible.

In this article you will learn how to diagnose the health of your tattoo cable just in the spot, while you are tattooing, and most important, only with the help of your power supply in two easy steps. This trick will is not perfect because some failures could be so small that are difficult to catch, but you can locate probably 75% of the problems. Welcome to the cheating pedal technique!

"The higher the force or the speed, the higher the heat that it will be built"

The electrolytic capacitors are the components that use to get hotter. Some machine builders know this issue. The reason for this is that some capacitors are not well chosen for the task, they have to show a very low internal resistance value (look for ESR value in the datasheet if you are interested). Even worse, if you operate to tattoo coil machine using the wrong polarity (positive power to negative post and the negative of the power supply to the positive of the coil machine), then you will mess up the internal resistance of the electrolytic capacitor (multiplying it by a high factor), and heating it up much more rapidly, even running the risk of explosion of the innocent capacitor.

"The internal temperature of a coil machine can go as high as 60ºCelsius (140ºF)"MUSOTOKU labs

Once the coil machine has reached some heat inside you will probably have to increase the voltage, why is that? because when the coils are hot they lose performance, or in other words, for achieving the same velocity and force they need more energy to be spent. And because the coils are now working at a higher voltage they will heat up more rapidly, so you can see that all this goes into a vicious circle.

 

 

DOES THE POWER SUPPLY ALSO AFFECT THIS PROBLEM?

Of course. Many artists complain about some power supplies heating coil machines more than others. This is true, and it has to be with the capacity of the power supply to deliver energy. A poor quality power supply will make your machine perform worse. To understand this better let's take the analogy of a car. It is clear for all that if you load the car or want to go at a high speed the car mileage will be higher and heat will be built in the motor. The higher the speed or the higher the load, the higher the temperature of the motor. That's perfectly normal. But if you fill the tank of your car with poor gas quality or even if you mix it up with water then your car will underperform, with the difference that this could have been avoided in the first place just by using the right gas and preventing damage to the car.

"The electrolytic capacitor is the component that builds more heat inside. Lower ESR capacitors will perform better"

In a nutshell, we recommend buying a reputable coil machine and a good power supply that ensures that your machine is always at its best.
It's not only a matter of heat, you are going also to notice the difference in precision, consistency, and the joy of using a good tool for your art from the very first moment. And maybe you think that you can do without the "feeling good about your tools", but in our opinion, the way you feel when you are performing affects way more than any other thing, and that's the one single most important learning that you can take away from this rant.