Are All Tattoo Cartridges Universal?

Universal tattoo cartridges have become the safest option for cosmic tattoos because of containing a membrane to prevent backflow. As safety is always a priority in tattooing, artists are becoming more dependent on hygienic, disposable, and single-use universal cartridges.

However, universal tattoo cartridges are not compatible with all tattoo devices. Although they fit other machines just fine due to their universal opening, they are not the best choice for PMU machines.

The article entirely concentrates on the fundamentals of tattoo cartridges. Whichever tattoo device you use, you ought to know about them to do your job right.

What Is A Tattoo Cartridge?

A tattoo cartridge is a specialized needle to be operated with specific machines. The machines only employ cartridges instead of traditional needle setups with hygiene issues.

Typically, you prepare multiple tattoo machines to change between various needle setups using a conventional set of needles and tubes. But it simply comes down to altering the tips of a single device with a tattoo cartridge.

A cartridge has built-in tips so that you get the appropriate size to set up your needle. Two kinds of tips are available – open and closed.

  • Open Tips: They have an open top to bare the whole needle bar. Tattooists often keep switching between tattoo colors and love this housing type because of the ease of removing pigment from the unmasked needle.
  • Closed Tips: The tips entirely encircle the needle bar, improving needle movement and stability. They take in more ink and keep an uninterrupted flow for better control. You will get the best results by using them for blackwork, gray work, and shading.

Are Universal Tattoo Cartridges Compatible With All Tattoo Machines?

Nowadays, tattoo artists use two kinds of machines for tattooing – one for PMU and another for regular tattoos.

PMU Machines

PMU or Permanent Makeup Machines are specialized tattoo machines made for cosmetic procedures like tattooing to make designs similar to makeup, i.e., enhancing an area of your face permanently.

But a universal tattoo cartridge will not fit a PMU device because it has a different needle opening that does not accept cartridges.

Regular Tattoo Machines

Tattoo accessory brands make regular tattoo machines with a uniformly sized cartridge openings. That allows tattooists to get their preferred sizes, setups, and companies of cartridge needles.

Several factors impact the configurations and measurements, like the needle number, the cluster form, the tightness of their packs, the length of the needle taper, and the needle roughness or smoothness.

The configuration of a tattoo device will not be an issue. You can use universal cartridges on any of them.

So, to answer your questions, universal tattoo cartridges are usable with any tattoo machines for general tattooing, save for the PMU ones.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Using Universal Tattoo Cartridges?


  • They are disposable. So you can rely on them for safety and hygiene.
  • It is easy to link them with tattoo machines.
  • The maintenance is minimal.


  • They are costly.
  • If you are used to the traditional needle arrangement, you will need time to get comfortable with cartridges.

Can I Reuse A Tattoo Cartridge?

A tattoo cartridge is a one-time-use component. So you have to dump it after using it once. It is paramount to avoid reusing the same cartridge when tattooing more than one person.

On the contrary, you can use tubes and other items more than once. But you have to be highly cautious while sterilizing tattoo needles on your own at home.

How Can I Read It?

You can read a tattoo cartridge by glancing at its gauge. There is an inverse relationship between the cartridge gauge and ink flow.

The smaller the diameter or gauge, the more polished and controlled the ink flow. A number (12, 10, or 8) indicates the gauge, whereas a millimeter refers to the diameter.

How Can I Choose The Perfect Tattoo Cartridge And Configuration?

Beginners often do not have sufficient knowledge about using tattoo cartridges. Finding a quality cartridge arrangement is necessary to create a quality tattoo design. You will find it in different sizes and shapes, which may be puzzling. Here are some suggestions to help you with that.

Testing The Needle Quality

Many cartridge companies manufacture needles with similar configurations. As they vary a little within brands, you should test that they lock into your tattoo device smoothly. Go with the one you feel comfortable using.

Verifying The Needle Stability

You can verify the needle’s stability by vibrating its rear. A firmly arranged one will reduce rattling for quiet tattoo applications.

Inspecting The Membrane

Membranes keep ink and blood from recirculating the grip of your tattoo gun and causing cross-contamination. That largely simplifies grip maintenance in between making tattoos. See that your chosen tattoo cartridges have functional membranes before purchasing them.

In addition, membranes can tighten your needle arrangement to minimize vibration and improve balance as you proceed with your work.

Checking The Needle Tip

The cartridge tip enclosing the tattoo needle may come in a slightly different shape, depending on its manufacturer. Other than the differences between closed and open tips, they also differ in design and thickness.

Working with various configurations, you may prefer a specific tip to others. So, when you look for one, see the pin, check it, and ensure that you are at ease working with it.

Final Words

Tattoo cartridges are becoming popular because of their flexibility and safety. If you are a PMU machine user, they will not be applicable. But if you are not, you should check them out. They are workable with any tattoo machine configurations.

It may take some getting used to if you previously used conventional needles. And the cost might be another constraint for some, but when it results in better-quality tattoos, you can recover it by charging more. Give it a shot and see for yourself!

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