How Does A Tattoo Thermal Printer Work?

How Does A Tattoo Thermal Printer Work?

When you think of a tattoo, one of two things will likely come to mind. The first is that it hurts. And if you aren’t a fan of pain, you probably aren’t interested in having one. The second is that it looks cool. 

This makes people want to get tattoos despite any initial reservations about them hurting. If you have been thinking about getting a tattoo but are worried that they hurt too much or don’t look as good as they do on other people, there is an alternative for you: thermal printers. 

These printers use heat and ink to create designs on your skin. So that when you are done, all that remains is your new design and no evidence of how it got there. Let’s look at how these printers work and why they are better than traditional methods for making tattoos. 

How Does a Tattoo Thermal Printer Work? 

Two main ways can be used depending on where your tattoo is placed. In either case, though, before anything can happen, some prep work needs to be done beforehand to avoid the risk of infection and ensure quality results later down the line.

To begin with, sterilization needs to occur. This is done by using a medical-grade disinfectant and wiping down all surfaces used in making your tattoo. This includes your skin and any tools or instruments used during the process. 

Once you have cleaned everything up, you can move on to getting your tattoo made. There are two main ways of applying them for larger tattoos, depending on where they will be placed. The first way involves printing out your design onto special thermal paper and then transferring it to your skin through heat or pressure. 

The second method involves placing an ink pad directly onto your skin and then pressing down hard enough for it to transfer ink from the pad onto your body. In both cases, though, once your design has been transferred onto your skin, you can remove whatever device was used to do so and get ready for the next step: removing any excess ink. 

With thermal printers, removing excess ink is as simple as washing off whatever device was used to apply it to get rid of anything that wasn’t absorbed into your skin. Once you have done so, you can clean up any mess and then admire your new tattoo before getting dressed and heading out to show it off. 

Different Types Of Printers

The key factor in deciding what type of tattoo thermal printer you should purchase is how you plan to use it. For example, if you plan to open a mobile business, a portable device may be best for your needs. 

These small printers have built-in batteries and can run off an included power cord if necessary. This flexibility makes them very convenient and easy to move around as needed. However, they do not typically offer all of the features that their larger counterparts do. For example, some smaller models will only print single-color designs or black ink only prints. 

Larger models tend to offer more features, such as printing multiple colors and full-color prints at a time. However, these devices are much larger than their portable counterparts and require more space to operate properly.

If you’re looking for something that offers both portability and versatility, then look into purchasing a stationary model instead. These printers can be placed in one location and repeatedly used without moving them around. 

They also tend to have more features than their portable counterparts, but they are also much larger, heavier, and more expensive. For example, some models will allow you to print designs onto clothing or wood pieces, which is impossible with smaller devices.

What Ink Is Used For The Printing Process?

Because of its size, a thermal printer uses a special oil-based ink instead of water-based. This type of ink takes longer to dry, so it’s recommended to cover your tattoo with a clear bandage immediately after it is received to harden properly. 

An alternative to using an oil-based product is water- and glycerin-based ink. However, these inks are more expensive than their oil-based counterparts, and they don’t produce as vibrant colors. 

They also take much longer to dry—up to 72 hours—which means you have to wait even longer before removing your bandage. When choosing water- or glycerin-based ink, make sure that it has no added dyes or scents because they could irritate when applied directly to the skin. 

Glycerin-based products typically use vegetable dyes, whereas water-based products use synthetic ones. Both types will work equally well for printing tattoos. 

Who Uses These Printers?

applying tattoo on hand via stencil

If you’re familiar with getting tattoos, you may know what a thermal printer is. If not, then let me take a few minutes to explain. Most professional tattoo parlours will use these printers to print onto clients’ skin with special tattoo ink before performing their designs.

Essentially, it’s an efficient way to get prints without using a stencil every time. This helps speed up and streamline their process so that they can spend more time working on your tattoo instead of getting set up. 

Of course, if you want to do your custom design at home, these are also ideal. The best part about them is that they’re easy to use and can be found online or in most electronics stores.

Why Are They Popular Today Among Tattoo Artists?

Recently, tattoo printers are becoming popular among artists because they allow them to draw directly on a person’s skin without transferring it onto paper or other material. This helps make tattoos look more natural and realistic than ever before, one of their most appealing qualities. Many people also love how these machines are compact and easy to use, even for someone just starting their artistic career. 


While earlier models need to be manually fed with ink, today’s thermal printer can automatically identify if there is still ink available for printing or if it needs to be refilled. Another feature that sets these devices apart is their relatively small size—most models can easily fit into your pocket and will hardly occupy any space when not in use.

About the author

I have done masters in printing and technology from University of North Carolina and contributed to several digital media platforms for years. My extensive background in higher education has made me a flexible thinker and, therefore, a flexible writer. With my creativity and professionalism, I know I can take this affiliate blog to the next level.

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