Stigma’s “Hyper, V.2” Hybrid Rotary Tattoo Machine

by on Oct.21, 2015, under Supply Review

The Stigma Hyper is not your standard “Rotary” tattoo machine.

By Joe Capobianco

It uses what they call “Swash Plate Technology”, and runs slightly different from the average Rotary. This swash drive tattoo machine is set up with the motor vertically. Therefore changing the weight distribution from a standard coil machine (as well as most Rotaries). This along with the fact that it only weighs a mere 3.7 oz. really makes for a pretty comfortable feel.
Now I use only disposable tubes. This fact again adds to the super lightweight feel of the tattoo machine. But recently I pulled out some stainless 1” grip tubes, and found the weight and balance different, but just as comfortable.
I will admit that I tend to like a slightly heavier tattoo machine when it comes to my coils, but it only took a few minutes of tattooing to fall into a comfortable groove with these machines.
Another difference with this particular Rotary tattoo machine is there “Power control, Thumb screw”. This is a screw set at the top of the machine, behind what would be the armature bar on a standard machine. This is a pretty cool feature as it gives another unique twist to this machines set up, and performance. When the screw tightened down the armature nipple is set rigid (like most standard rotaries). But when loosened say a full turn, it gives the stroke a bit of give, mimicking the action of a standard coil machine stroke. So by keeping the screw set down (no give), you’ve got a pretty sweet liner. And By opening the screw up, you’ve enough give for a keen shader.

Now, to performance. The machine has several features I enjoyed, and a couple I did not. But everything was easy enough to get used to. I’ll go from the basics, to a bit more in depth.

1. I liked the fact that the machine (unlike some other newer rotary tattoo machines) uses all standard equipment. Standard tubes, needles, rubber bands, etc. There’s really no hidden costs here. Just a pick up and go machine.

2. I really dug the fact that this, and other tattoo machines by them, are all set up with both a clip cord, and RCA jack hook up standard. No need to purchase one or the other. And therefore I didn’t need to change anything over to use say, my standard machines, and than the Hypers.

3. Smooth, and consistent running. When using the Hyper as a shader the first week, I ran it round 9 volts. While this gave me a standard smooth running, solid packing shader. With little bleeding, and trauma to the skin. I did notice it ran a bit slow, and therefore I tattooed a bit slower for it. But upon getting more comfortable with the machine, I turned up the power (running about 9.6-7 volts), and was able to move quite a bit faster. This did add a bit more trauma to the skin. But not any more (and most of the times less), than say one of my standard coil machines. 

4. I was pretty comfortable slowing down to pack an area when shading. As well as move a bit faster, open up my hand motion, to achieve some very effective, and clean shading as well.

5. Super lightweight. As I said earlier, I usually prefer a heavier tattoo machine. And as I was already using disposable tubes I was used to the slightly un-even distribution of weight. But with the way that the Hyper is set up, with the machine being taller than wider. The weight is really well distributed, and therefore very comfortable. I will admit to being a bit more comfortable using the clip cord, verses the RCA jack. As the clip cord allows a bit of room (by swinging, and not being rigid), when working in awkward spots.

6. Its frame style is both cool looking, and real easy to clean.


Now for the other side, the machine did have a few things that took some getting used to, and some things IM still not super comfortable with.

1. The Tube vice. While it’s a clean looking, and a very standard vice. I found that while using my disposables it clamps down awful hard usually dinging the tube when setting my needle depth in place. Now this makes it difficult because, if you clamp down immediately upon setting up, and need to reset your tube/needle position. It could be difficult, as the dent in the tube will make resetting the position just about impossible, and on 1 or 2 occasions I found myself changing out the damaged tube, so as to reset my needle position.

2. Another thing about needle depth setting is that I usually have to run the machine while doing so. Unlike a standard coil machine, where you can set up your needle, & just push you’re a-bar forward to set your needle depth. I’ve had to actually run the machine while setting my depth, so as to get an accurate position. Just a bit awkward, and time consuming.

3. When using standard stainless tubes. I had a bit of a difficult time tightening the vice down enough. Now this could be my big mitts, or the Teflon bead in the bottom of the vice. But I did find this to be a bit of an annoyance.

4. The stroke length is not quite the length I normally like, but it was pretty good. It would be cool if you could have a bit more control over the play in the stroke. Like I stated earlier upon loosening the screw, this will give you a bit of play on the hit of the machine. Sort of a fine tuning. It seems you either have give (for shading), or you do not.

5. The price. It’s a bit of an expensive machine. Now IM not one to balk at price under no circumstances. But I will admit that 350. Euro (roughly $430-450) is kind of steep. But I’d say worth it.

I stated earlier that I “Just about Exclusively” used the Hyper’s, and what I meant by that is It took some time to really want to try em as liners. At first it was a cost issue. Like I said $450. A pop is a lot. But, like any other, eccentric tattooer. I had to have the Lot. So I picked up another Hyper, and a Bizarre (another similar style machine, from Stigma. And one I was informed would make a very good liner). They are different. It’s hard to really put my finger on it, but they seem to lack the subtleties of my coil liners. I noticed that they took a bit longer to get used to than the shaders, but once I did, they performed well. I still line a bit slower, but they make for awesome large round Power liners. All in all, IM pretty happy with there performance, as well.

Another thing I noticed with these machines, like all machines. Is they all do not run exactly the same. Having 2 of the same machines did not mean they ran exactly the same way. As a matter of fact the two Hyper shaders I have, run ever so slightly different.

The maintenance. Simple, but awkward. A little lubricant (supplied from Stigma) is applied after several hours of work to a key area in the machine. Very simple. But I do have a difficult time with the knowledge that when there’s a problem with the machine, the solution is pretty much out of your hands. Short of sending it back to the manufacturer, or purchasing a new one, your pretty much, S.O.L. Unlike a coil machine, where the springs, and what not can be replaced, or upgraded. What you see is what you get with a rotary.

Also from the standpoint of time, and charm. A rotary seems to have a workload life expectancy. Unlike a coil machine, where one can have it for decades, in daily use. I’ve been told that the rotaries may get 2-3 years constant use, before burning out, or being replaced. Something a buyer may want to consider.
In the past I’ve said that rotaries were just not for me. I don’t know if its my need to spend money, my want to expand my technical horizons, or just my “Old Dog, wanting to learn new tricks” mentality. But I must say that my experience with the Stigma Hyper has been positive. And while IM certain I’ll not be throwing away my coil machines any time soon. I do look forward to more tattooing with these great tools.

To date my experiences with the folks over at Stigma have been short, but positive. I would think that as the company grows, so will some of the hassles of dealing with them. But check out there web site. I found it to be insightful, as well and interesting.

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