A tattoo stencil is how a design shifts from an idea on paper to a transfer made specifically for skin that helps guide tattooing. Almost every shop has a tattoo stencil machine, but did you know it may also be helpful to have one at home so you can test tattoo placements?
We’ve rounded up our favorite tattoo stencil printers with a wide range of functions and capabilities so you can find the perfect upgrade for your professional practice, or the ideal pre-tattoo tool for home.
Quick glance at the best tattoo stencil printers:
- Life Basis Tattoo Stencil Transfer Machine - Our Pick!
- Atomus Tattoo Transfer Printer Machine
- TOEC Tattoo Printer
- Brother S8 Stencil Printer with Airprint
Table of Contents (clickable)
- 1 Best Tattoo Stencil Printers Reviewed
- 2 Our Pick - Life Basis Tattoo Stencil Transfer Machine
- 3 What We Consider When Selecting The Best Tattoo Stencil Printer
- 4 Our Final Thoughts
Best Tattoo Stencil Printers Reviewed
Life Basis Tattoo Stencil Transfer Machine - Our pick!
Life Basis is one of those reliable stencil machines that you know you’ll keep in your shop for years to come. It prints your stencil in under a minute and has no heating elements, so you don’t need to worry about overheating slowing down your process. It also has very few replacement parts which makes this an economical choice, especially for ink.
Unlike many machines that neglect some details when printed, Life Basis captures complex lines, simple lines, and light color background in their stencil printing. The crisp lines made with this machine are mind-blowing for the price point.
While it is recommended that you follow the YouTube video instructions carefully to get the hang of this machine, artists love it, saying, “Works great! Simple and easy to use. Recommend! If you’re a tattoo artist, investing in this machine is like hiring an assistant. You save so much time, energy, and work. ”
- Quick speed
- Fantastic price
- Comes ready with paper so you can use it out of the box
- Captures more detail than most stencil machines
- No replacement parts
- Offers varying deepness transfers
- Offers mirrored printing
- The instructions can be confusing and you might need to watch the YouTube video
Atomus Tattoo Transfer Printer Machine
With fast printing speed, large compatible printer paper sizes, and clear transfers for a great price, Atomus' stencil printer is too great to ignore. It’s easy-to-use and has a quick cooldown time, which is often a concern with stencil printers that are continuously working.
Atomus is a tattoo-focused company so you can trust they are putting out quality supplies for the profession. They also have a satisfaction guarantee and a one-year warranty on their printer.
Though it’s big enough to print out a thorough back tattoo stencil, Atomus' stencil printer is light enough to carry. This makes it a convenient option for on-the-go artists who have a feature at exhibitions or wish to make tours doing their work.
Artists love the ease of operation with this printer, saying, “I love how easy it is to use this product. I had absolutely no issues. It also feels light and is easy to store away. ”
- Quick speed
- Fantastic price
- Comes ready with paper so you can use it out of the box
- Environmentally friendly materials
- Can do mirror copies
- Minimal overheating issues
- Only prints outline stencils, not details
TOEC Tattoo Printer
Though the TOEC stencil is definitely on the more expensive end, the capabilities of this beast of a machine are too impressive to leave it off the list.
Being WIFI controlled means you can print from absolutely any device, anywhere. You don’t need to have a physical copy of a drawn or printed stencil of your design; you can click right from your phone and get it printed in an instant. It’s also small enough to be thrown into a bag and light enough for use at any convention or shop guest spot - in fact, it comes with a traveling pouch.
It doesn’t need its own specialized paper as it accepts stencil paper from multiple brands, and it also has a full support service should any issues arise with your machine. It also has its own photo editing app to ensure optimal printing.
Artists love that this stencil is able to catch even the smallest details, and sing its praises, saying, “This thing is epic, really lets you get right into the tattooing at the drop of a dime. I edit fully colored pics on my phone until they are just black and white lines and then I can get a nice outline within minutes. It prints nice and bold onto the stencil paper. I've gotten multiple brands of stencil paper [and they] all work great. This thing is sick, thanks for inventing it!”
If it wasn’t for the price which makes it less accessible for beginner artists, this machine would have absolutely been our favorite.
- Quick speed
- Captures amazing details
- Works with many paper brands
- Runs with WIFI and Bluetooth
- Can print directly from any device
- Has its own editing application
- Great customer service
- There is a bit of a learning curve when using the device
Brother S8 Stencil Printer with Airprint
If you want an all-in-one kit that not only gets the job done but also has wireless capabilities, you may want to consider the S8 Stencil Printer with Airprint. This WIFI printer is designed with Apple products in mind, so beware Android users: you won’t be able to use the wireless printing feature. But there are other Bluetooth editions available, as well as a version that doesn’t have wireless printing capabilities.
Boasting new software, the printer guarantees to nearly eliminate any paper jamming issues and overheating delays. S8 also stresses that it is optimized for heavy contrast zones and dense space printing.
The box comes with multiple stencil papers, transfer gels, tattoo gels, needle cleaner, and soap. It also has a very compact and lightweight design that makes it easy to carry with you to conventions or guest spots at other shops. In addition, it has a Li-Ion battery which makes for long-lasting wireless printing.
- Wireless printing
- Portable and lightweight
- Specialized software
- Low jamming issues
- Low overheating issues
- Great, high-quality printing
- Extremely expensive
- This edition is specialized for Apple users; all editions are on the more expensive end
Our Pick - Life Basis Tattoo Stencil Transfer Machine
The Life Basis Tattoo Stencil Transfer Machine topped our charts because it has a great quality to price ratio. While you want to invest money into a machine that will last you a while and provide efficient results, we know that printers tend to break down more frequently than other tools in a tattoo shop, so we didn’t want something that broke our bank with every re-purchase.
Considering that the Life Basis machine has very few replaceable parts, including ink that doesn’t require replacing, this makes it a printer that has fewer issues, jams, replacement needs, or overheating problems. You’ll get a quick print done in your session without any concerns. That being said, it is recommended that you allow the machine to rest between every two transfers to ensure optimal printing.
We love that the Life Basis printer is able to capture a multitude of details, including light color or shading. We also love that it has different ink deepness modes, a mirror function, and comes with paper in the kit, so it’s ready to use out of the box.
Life Basis also offers a one year product replacement and amazing customer service support.
This printer is inexpensive, easy to use, has multiple functions, great reviews, clear instructional videos, and crisp thermal design which makes it the best of the best for us.
What We Consider When Selecting The Best Tattoo Stencil Printer
While you could manually draw a tattoo stencil, a stencil printer is one of those tools that boosts the productivity of a tattoo shop tenfold, and at a decent price point, it’s worth the investment.
Here are a few factors that we considered when choosing our favorites.
First and foremost, the stencil printers that made our list all demonstrated excellent printing capabilities. We wanted a whole range of options from fine lines to light shading, and many of the stencil printers we love best can do it all.
We like a range of printing options such as mirror and deepness adjustments, and avoided the cheap or knock-off printers on the market that printed a stencil that would have been better drawn by hand.
Ease of Use
A stencil printer is meant to make your life easier, not add another stressful element to an already difficult professional practice. We like machines that don’t have overheating issues, have clear printing instructions with minimal learning curves, and that print out a stencil quickly with fewer jams.
Tattoo artists are the gypsies of the body modification industry. Between conventions, guest spots in worldwide shops, and changing seats from your local tattoo parlor to your own studio, you need a printer that moves with you with little weight and stress. We love that a few of the items on our best of list come with their own travel case.
We are also super impressed by the availability of wireless, battery operated, and application-enabled stencil printers on the market today. This simplifies so much of the stencil printing process and it means you can print directly from your phone for clients.
No matter where you are in your tattoo journey, you’ll find a stencil printer on our list that will fit within your budget. While there are higher-end printers on our list, they offer a real bang for their buck with regards to additional features, settings, and printing details. We always recommend focusing on the basic features you need, and working your way up to a more expensive printer as you expand your professional work.
Our Final Thoughts
A tattoo stencil printer is a necessity in a tattoo studio; it saves you time and allows for a greater leeway for error that you simply can’t achieve drawing stencils by hand. When it comes to resizing, mirroring, deepness adjustments, or simply having to readjust where your client wants to be tattooed, a stencil printer makes this process a hundred times faster. And knowing that tattoo stencil printer paper is made specifically for the safety of tattooing in mind, you eliminate yet another stressful factor in the tattoo process.