Are All Tattoo Cartridges Universal?

  • Written By Dan Hunter on March 22, 2023
    Last Updated: April 7, 2023

When it comes to tattooing, the tools you use are just as important as your skill and technique. Tattoo cartridges are one of the most essential tools a tattoo artist can have in their arsenal. However, not all tattoo cartridges are created equal, and not all are universal. Here’s what you need to know.

Are All Tattoo Cartridges Universal?

The tattoo industry is incredibly diverse, with many different types of tattoo machines available, each with its unique features and benefits. Some of the most popular types of tattoo machines include coil machines, rotary machines, and pen-style machines. While each of these machines can be used to create beautiful tattoos, they all require specific cartridges to function correctly.

For example, some tattoo machines, such as Cheyenne, require specific cartridges designed for that machine. Cheyenne cartridges have a unique locking mechanism that is not compatible with other types of tattoo machines. Therefore, if you are using a Cheyenne machine, you will need to use Cheyenne cartridges to ensure that the needle and ink flow correctly.

Similarly, some rotary machines may have a different needle size or stroke length than other rotary machines. As a result, you will need to choose a cartridge that is compatible with the specific machine you’re using.

It’s essential to note that some tattoo cartridges may look similar, but they are not necessarily interchangeable. While it may be tempting to try and use a cheaper cartridge that appears to fit your machine, doing so can result in poor performance, wasted ink, and a poor-quality tattoo.

In addition to machine compatibility, it’s crucial to choose a tattoo cartridge that is appropriate for the type of tattoo you’re creating. For example, if you’re creating a large, bold tattoo, you may need a larger needle size to ensure that the ink flows smoothly and evenly. Similarly, if you’re creating a more delicate, intricate tattoo, you may need a smaller needle size to achieve fine lines and details.

What Should You Look for When Choosing Tattoo Cartridges?

Choosing the right tattoo cartridges is crucial to creating high-quality tattoos. Here are some factors to consider when choosing tattoo cartridges:

Machine Compatibility

The first and most crucial factor to consider when choosing tattoo cartridges is machine compatibility. Not all tattoo cartridges are compatible with every machine. If you’re using a specific brand or model of machine, you’ll need to choose cartridges that are designed for that machine.

When shopping for tattoo cartridges, make sure to check the manufacturer’s specifications to ensure that the cartridges you’re considering are compatible with your machine. Using the wrong cartridges can cause your machine to malfunction, which can result in wasted ink, uneven lines, and a poor-quality tattoo.

Needle Size

The size of the needle in your tattoo cartridge is also an important consideration. Different needle sizes are appropriate for different types of tattoos. For example, if you’re creating a large tattoo with bold lines, you may need a larger needle size to ensure that the ink flows smoothly and evenly. On the other hand, if you’re creating a small, detailed tattoo, you may need a smaller needle size to achieve fine lines and details.

When choosing a needle size, consider the type of tattoo you’ll be creating and your personal preferences. Some artists prefer to use larger needles for all tattoos, while others prefer to use smaller needles for more delicate work.

Ink Viscosity

The viscosity of the ink you plan to use is another important consideration when choosing tattoo cartridges. Some cartridges are designed to work best with thicker, more viscous inks, while others work best with thinner inks.

If you’re planning to use a thicker ink, make sure to choose cartridges that can handle the viscosity. Using a cartridge that isn’t designed to work with thick ink can result in clogging, which can cause the needle to become stuck, resulting in uneven lines and poor-quality tattoos.

Disposable vs Reusable

Tattoo cartridges are available in both disposable and reusable varieties. Disposable cartridges are designed for one-time use and are typically made from plastic. They are hygienic and convenient, as they eliminate the need for sterilization.

Reusable cartridges are made from more durable materials and can be sterilized and reused. While reusable cartridges are more environmentally friendly, they require more cleaning and maintenance.

When choosing between disposable and reusable cartridges, consider your personal preferences and the type of tattooing you’ll be doing. If you’re doing a lot of tattoos in a short period, disposable cartridges may be more convenient. However, if you’re doing larger, more complex tattoos that require a lot of needle changes, reusable cartridges may be a better option.


In conclusion, while tattoo cartridges offer many benefits, not all cartridges are universal. It’s essential to choose cartridges that are compatible with your machine and appropriate for the type of tattoo you’re creating to ensure that you get the best results possible. By taking the time to choose the right cartridges, you can create high-quality tattoos that your clients will love for years to come.

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