How to Identify the Needle Configurations and Manufacturer Codes
In this brief guide we will explain how to identify the needle configurations and manufacturer codes used for tattoo needles. This information is covered in detail in our permanent makeup training classes at John Hashey’s Advanced School of Permanent Cosmetics.
Why do tattoo needles use names like 123RL, 88RS, 811MW and what do they mean? These are names of tattoo needle configurations. These configuration standards are set by conventional tattoo manufacturers and can be confusing to permanent cosmetic artists.
The standard individual needle pin to manufacturer tattoo needle configurations is a number 12 Sharps. The number 12 Sharps are equal to fourteen thousands of an inch in diameter at the shaft. As mentioned, the standard is set by the conventional tattoo manufacturers for conventional tattoo artists. They are the ones that invented or started cosmetic tattooing worldwide, and they far out-number the permanent cosmetic artists. So, since the standard is not changed for the few, the permanent cosmetic artist has to perform some conversions to determine the right configuration for them.
Cosmetic artists that use the coil machine more than likely will use what is known as number 8 Sharps. It is equal to ten thousands of an inch in diameter. It is also known as the zero. The zero needle (00) and has been nicknamed the bug pin by the conventional artist because it is so small in diameter.
The cosmetic artist must make the conversion from number eight sharps needle configurations to conventional standard tattoo tubes that will fit each needle configuration correctly. Most manufacturers expect you to know this information.
There are two materials that needle configurations are manufactured from. They are Stainless Steel and Common Steel.
Common Steel: Common steel will rust and will magnetize. Common steel needles can in some cases be made sharper than stainless pins or sharps.
Stainless Steel: Stainless steel will not rust and will not magnetize. These sharps are more commonly used today by most artist and have one advantage, storage is not as critical as common steel needles.
Tattoo Needle Configurations
Round Liners: Needles that start at one pin and can be manufactured up to any number of pins in a round configuration from a long tapered needle are called round liners.
Round Shaders: Needles starting normally at three pins up to any number in a round configuration made from a short tapered needle are called round shaders.
Flat Shaders: Needles starting at two needles usually up to seven, configured side by side in a flat row are called flat shaders.
Below is an illustration showing the difference between a Long Taper Liner and a Short Taper Shader
Stacked Magnums: Needles in a flat row that are manufactured from short tapered needles, stacked one row on top of the other, and are known as the stacked magnums. Note: cosmetic artists will most likely never use this type configuration.
Weaved Magnums: Needles manufactured from a short tapered needle and weaved in between each other are called weaved magnums.
How to Identify Needle Configurations and Manufacturers Codes
So, with a basic understanding of the materials and types of needle configurations, how can you identify the needles using the manufacturers codes? Let’s look at some examples and break down what the codes mean.
A manufacturers code consists of three pieces of information:
- The sharp size
- How many needles in the configuration
- The configuration
Our first example below shows what the code means for a 123RL needle. The sharp size is 12, there are 3 needles, in a round liner configuration (long tapered needle).
Our second example shows what the code means for a 88RS needle. The sharp size is 8, there are 8 needles, in a round shader configuration (short tapered needle).
Some more examples of manufacturers codes and what they mean:
- 83RL = Eight sharp size, three needles, round liner configuration. This needle is smaller than the 123RL.
- 126F = Twelve sharp size, six needles, flat shader configuration.
- 811MW = Eight sharp size, eleven needles, magnum weaved configuration.
Hopefully, this overview has helped you to decipher the codes manufacturers use for tattoo needles. So, the next time you want to buy tattoo supplies and you see 123RL, 88RS, 811MW you won’t think they’re talking about luxury sports sedans, you’ll easily identify them as the sharp size, number of needles and the configuration.