A stencil is quicker and more accurate than free-handing a design with a marker.
And the best tattoo stencil printers are the fastest way to get started.
Are you wondering what kind of printer is used for tattoo stencils? What is a tattoo stencil machine, after all?
Today, we’ll get into the details of preparing a stencil. There’s more than one way to do it.
- Can you use a normal printer for tattoo stencils?
- Best Tattoo Stencil Printers
- Brother S8 Tattoo Stencil Printer
- ReproFX Spirit Green Sheet Thermal Tattoo Stencil Transfer Paper
- Spirit Master Tattoo Stencil Transfer Paper Carbon Purple
- Spirit Classic Thermal Roll 8.5 Inch x 100 Feet
- Epson EcoTank ET-M2170 Wireless Monochrome All-in-One Supertank Printer
- Tattoo Inkjet Stencil Ink – Revolutionary EcoTank Printer Ink
- Brother PocketJet PJ762 Direct Thermal Printer
- Life Basis Thermal Copier for Tattoo Stencils
- Wormhole Tattoo Transfer Stencil Machine
- BIOMASER Tattoo Transfer Machine Tattoo Printer
- Oki 62418701 MICROLINE 420 Dot Matrix Printer
- Stencil Stuff
- Sunnyscopa Printable Temporary Tattoo Paper for LASER Printer
Can you use a normal printer for tattoo stencils?
First, let’s define what a “normal” printer is. You’re probably picturing an inkjet or laser model.
Yes, you can use certain kinds of inkjet printers for tattoo stencils. They have to have an eco-tank where you can add your own ink. There are examples in the reviews below.
All you’ll need is stencil ink (scroll down to see the best stencil ink).
On the other hand, laser printers aren’t suitable for stencils. But you can use a laser printer for temporary tattoos. Some models are capable of printing very detailed images.
But a temporary tattoo is not the same as a stencil. It’s likely to dissolve as soon as you apply Vaseline to begin inking for real.
That’s not to say that temporary tattoos are worthless. Perhaps you consider them a childish toy. But I recommend them to clients who are uncertain about the type of permanent tattoo they want and where to place it. They can give it a test run with a temporary tattoo.
Now, back to stencil printers… Another type of “normal” printer is the old dot-matrix style. If you have one of those, you can print a stencil with carbon paper. You’ll see examples in the reviews below.
Some artists prefer dot-matrix printers to thermal printers because they can achieve better resolution. Plus, the dot-matrix models tend to be real workhorses that outlast modern printers by a decade or more.
Finally, there are thermal copiers, also known as thermal printers. They use heat to transfer the image onto the stencil paper. You’ll need special carbon paper for this purpose, but you can see helpful choices below.
Best Tattoo Stencil Printers
Now, let’s start by reviewing a tattoo stencil printer with a complete package of accessories.
Brother S8 Tattoo Stencil Printer
Brother’s S8 thermal printer is ideal for the modern tattoo artist. It’s compact and battery-powered for easy transport. You can take it anywhere you want to work.
I’d recommend this printer for pros and novices alike. There’s no point in getting something cheap that will have to be replaced soon when you can invest in something worthwhile that will last.
It allows you to create a stencil on your iPad or Mac, then print it wirelessly in seconds. It also comes with a USB cable in case you’re not using Apple AirPrint.
This is not an inkjet or laser printer. It’s only compatible with thermal transfer paper. Fortunately, the kit includes 50 sheets. You won’t have to buy a package separately.
But this is not the ordinary purple carbon paper. This is red-colored for high visibility on light and medium skin tones.
Moreover, it requires red stencil transfer gel. Guess what – the kit includes 50 packets of that, too.
The printer has a resolution of 300 dpi, which equals 300 dots per inch. That ensures sharp, clear images.
It’s also programmed to prevent paper jams. That such a simple thing, but it saves so much frustration.
ReproFX Spirit Green Sheet Thermal Tattoo Stencil Transfer Paper
While a red stencil shows up well on light and medium skin, here’s the best tattoo stencil paper for dark skin tones. It’s green for high visibility.
You’ll need to use it with green transfer cream or a transparent stencil gel. (More on that below).
Although it’s thermal paper compatible with thermal printers like the Brother model above, you can also draw on it by hand.
The paper is manufactured in the USA from vegan components.
Spirit Master Tattoo Stencil Transfer Paper Carbon Purple
The classic carbon paper creates purple stencils. You can use this one for free-hand drawing or run it through a thermal printer.
Each sheet has 4 layers. Follow the instructions, and you’ll see how easy it is to use.
Spirit Classic Thermal Roll 8.5 Inch x 100 Feet
If you do a lot of stencils, don’t waste time and money on single sheets of thermal paper. Instead, get this 100-foot roll. Cut it as long or short as you need it to be.
It’s compatible with all thermal printers regardless of the brand. Moreover, it’s shelf-stable and won’t degrade if you don’t use it all right away.
Finally, the purple dye is skin-safe to prevent irritation.
Epson EcoTank ET-M2170 Wireless Monochrome All-in-One Supertank Printer
This Epson tattoo stencil printer has what’s called an “EcoTank” or Supertank for a single color of ink.
Simply drain the tank and replace the stock ink with the stencil ink in the review below. Of course, that may void your 2-year warranty.
On the other hand, this is an inkjet printer. It prints up to 20 pages per minute, has a high-capacity paper tray, and almost no warm-up time.
No, you don’t need thermal paper for this printer. Regular printer paper will work just fine. It’s the ink that matters.
The model I selected can copy and scan as well as print. Those additional functions may come in handy if you have a prior piece of art you’d like to turn into a stencil.
Otherwise, you can save a little money by getting the basic printer.
Both models accept print orders over Wi-Fi or ethernet.
Tattoo Inkjet Stencil Ink – Revolutionary EcoTank Printer Ink
Here’s the stencil ink for the printer above. Drain the print reservoir and fill it with this ink instead.
It’s compatible with any Epson EcoTank printer. Still, it’s more economical to choose the monochrome model as you’re only replacing one ink color.
So, how does this stencil ink work?
It’s formulated to resist fading for days, even if it gets wet. Therefore, you could use it as a temporary tattoo. Just allow it to dry for about 15 minutes before you start tattooing.
On the other hand, you can erase it with alcohol like that in hand sanitizer.
Brother PocketJet PJ762 Direct Thermal Printer
As you shop for thermal tattoo printers, you’ll see that there are many available. The Brother printers stand out for a couple of reasons. I selected one of their models to review here.
For one, the Brother thermal printers are more compact. You can power them off household electricity or the car cigarette lighter, but you’ll need to separately purchase the proper cords.
Second, they come from a reputable brand. It’s possible to get service if you need repairs or parts.
There are other features you may appreciate. For example, this printer allows you to send jobs over Bluetooth or USB.
In the first case, you’ll need the proper app from Brother. In the second, you’ll need a USB cable, which is sold separately.
Lastly, the print resolution is 200 dpi, which is good for a thermal printer.
Life Basis Thermal Copier for Tattoo Stencils
If you prefer to spend less and get more accessories included, check out this package. It was put together especially for tattoo artists.
The printer’s footprint is about the same size as a sheet of paper. It weighs about 3 pounds.
It’s compatible with A4 and A5 paper, which aren’t exactly American standard sizes.
On the other hand, it provides some flexibility for copying stencils. You can choose from settings that adjust the resolution (the “Deepness”) or provide a mirror-image.
Furthermore, the kit includes 10 sheets of thermal transfer paper and a link to download 600 free prints. The company offers a 1-year product replacement and a video to help you set up.
Wormhole Tattoo Transfer Stencil Machine
The TOEC brand thermal printer is similar to the Brother printer in its size and capability.
It accepts transfer sheets in A4 and B5 sizes. It prints at a 200 dpi resolution at a maximum speed of one page per minute.
Happily, it’s very compact and lightweight.
You can send print orders to it over wireless or Ethernet connections. It doesn’t matter whether you’re using Windows, Android, or iOS.
It also comes with a video instruction manual, power adapter, USB cable, and storage bag.
BIOMASER Tattoo Transfer Machine Tattoo Printer
At the time of writing, this was just one of many look-alike thermal printers for sale. I chose it because it comes with a 90-date money-back guarantee and an 18-month warranty. Not all similar models offer a warranty.
To avoid getting your hopes up, the description points out that it is not suitable for printing images with elaborate shadowing.
But it is perfect for outlines. You can adjust the resolution and flip the image mirror-style if you like.
Oki 62418701 MICROLINE 420 Dot Matrix Printer
If you’ve paid attention at the checkout at an auto parts store, you’ve probably seen a dot matrix printer. They are excellent for printing documents with multiple parts. They pound out the essential text with a distinct buzzy, whiny sound.
It just so happens they are fantastic for printing tattoo stencils, too.
This one can handle up to 240 x 216 dpi resolution. It creates physical impressions on transfer paper with a combination of stored-energy pins and magnets.
It’s called impact printing, and it’s the same thing as using a pen to draw your stencil on carbon paper. There’s no heat needed.
The printer is powerful enough to penetrate a 6-part form with legible text on the last page. Try that with a pen! Your hand is going to be awfully tired.
This 9-pen model also reaches up to 570 CPS (characters per second) in draft mode. Of course, you won’t be using that if you want a high-quality stencil. Let’s just say that it’s pretty fast.
In conclusion, it’s made to outlast the typical printer. Its rated lifetime is 20,000 hours, and it comes with a 3-year standard warranty.
Once you have your stencil printed, you need a way to stick it to the skin. You need a product that will help the dye transfer and protect it from fading once you start wiping.
Enter Stencil Stuff. It’s a favorite product used by professional tattoo artists worldwide.
This creamy lotion makes it so you don’t need to gray line or bloodline. It keeps the image sharp and clear.
Additionally, it dries quickly and it’s non-toxic.
On the other hand, you can try your luck with Speed Stick deodorant.
Sunnyscopa Printable Temporary Tattoo Paper for LASER Printer
At the beginning of the article, I mentioned temporary tattoos as a way to trial a permanent tattoo.
Here’s tattoo paper that goes in a laser printer only. It’s perfect for waterproof tattoos that last up to a week.
Technically, you could try using one as a stencil. But there are only a few sheets, making it a rather pricey alternative to typical thermal paper.
How does it work?
You’ll print the image, then place the adhesive sheet on top of it. Dip it in water and press it to the skin.
If you aren’t happy with the results, you can erase it with baby oil or rubbing alcohol.
Sometimes, fake tattoos like these look shiny. You can counteract that problem and mattify them with sunscreen.
One word of advice: take a pass on temporary inkjet tattoos. They will dissolve after a few hours, or if they get wet.
I’m happy you stopped by to see reviews of stencil printers for tattoos. I hope you found plenty of ideas and products to get you started.
Stencils are an essential part of the tattooing process. You don’t have to use them, but they do make the work a lot speedier. They also prevent stupid mistakes.
If you are going to be a professional artist, I recommend investing in a high-quality stencil printer.
Then, if you’re happy with the one you found today, come back and tell us about it.