Your PMU machine is one of your most important tools for doing beautiful work. But it can also be a major investment.
Despite your PMU machine being the priciest part of your setup, it doesn’t mean your machine has to be high-end. Moreover, while a high-end PMU machine can help you achieve your goals, a lower end machine can also be a great choice for you.
That might be jarring to read… but just know: a lower end, more affordable machine doesn’t mean low quality.
Let’s look at the differences between high-end and low-end machines, so you know what’s best for you and your work. Feel free to use this as a handy shopping guide the next time you’re in the market for a PMU machine.
QUALITIES OF HIGH-END PMU MACHINES
No two machines are identical, but there are a few key features you can count on when shopping for a higher end machine. Find your high-end checklist below.
A HIGH-QUALITY MOTOR
A high-end machine is very likely to boast a high-end motor. In fact, some artists swear by specific motors and only choose PMU machines that employ them. Higher-end motors are more durable and powerful, which justifies the high price tag that comes with them. They also tend to operate much more quietly and start up much more quickly for an overall more efficient performance.
Examples of high-end motors? The two bigwigs you may have already heard of include Swiss Maxon motors and German Faulhaber motors: they’re two artist-favorites in both the PMU and tattooing professions.
STRICT PRACTICES + TOLERANCES
Ok, this is where things get pretty technical.
Manufacturers who make high-end machines adhere to very strict regulations and tolerances. Simply put, “tolerances” refer to how tightly the pieces of your PMU machine fit together. Tolerances also refer to how many variances in part sizes a manufacturer will allow.
If a manufacturer permits large variances in part sizes for your machine, the model won't perform consistently across the board. For example: one model of the same machine will have different part sizes than another model, and the two will perform differently from one another. A machine with large variances is also less likely to be a durable, long-lasting one that you can rely on for the long-term.
Oh, and by the way… acceptable variances among high-end manufacturers are so regulated that they are often specified by literal fractions of millimeters. That’s the equivalent of half the width of a strand of human hair. With such strict adherences, you can count on a machine that’s going to perform smoothly for years on end.
A BRAND WITH A SPARKLING REPUTATION
Have you seen the brand all over Instagram? Are you already familiar with its flashy logo? If it’s a high-end machine, the brand is more than likely going to be well-known. For instance, you’ll find high-end machines from artist-favorite manufacturers like Microbeau or Perma Blend. You’ve heard of them, we presume? What makes these manufacturers so reputable is a little something called “the artist factor.” That means…
- They’re founded by and/or employ experienced PMU artists who know exactly what an artist needs.
- PMU artists have tried and approved their products before launch.
Having support and approval from artists who work in your profession is an invaluable source of reassurance when you’re spending money on a high-end machine. You’ll likely find countless reviews on the machine you’re purchasing, and you’ve probably seen some of your favorite artists using them on Instagram reels, perhaps raving about their results.
These manufacturers also tend to deliver a product that looks gorgeous, too. Just take a look at any of the PMU machines Microbeau produces, and you can see that style and aesthetics are as critical to this high-end brand as ergonomics and adjustable parameters.
QUALITIES TO LOOK FOR IN LOWER-END PMU MACHINES
After reading all the qualities of a high-end PMU machine, you might be wondering about the benefits of a lower end machine. There are several! Whether or not you purchase one depends entirely on your needs as an artist. A low-end machine could be the perfect choice for you… even better than a high-end machine in some instances.
First, you should know that while a high-end machine has all the qualities we listed above, it doesn’t mean a low-end machine has the exact opposite. So, for instance, just because you may get a dazzling, brand-new German Faulhaber motor with a high-end machine doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get a horrible, unreliable motor when you purchase a lower end machine.
“Lower end” generally means you’re getting a PMU machine that (typically):
- Is made with less strict tolerances
- Features a motor with a shorter lifespan
- Doesn’t always have the same glamorous branding or rave reviews from artists around the globe
Despite all that, lower end machines can still deliver beautiful results… and they have the added bonus of being an overall lower investment. So, they’re an excellent choice if you’re a novice PMU artist, or a professional who’s in the market for a good backup to have on-hand in the studio (after all, accidents happen to even the highest end machines, and a backup is always a smart choice).
Whether you’re looking for a starter machine, a backup, or you’re just operating on a budget, here’s what to consider when in the market for a low-end machine:
Think About Manufacturing Location
Bear in mind: this is something you'll want to consider when shopping for any quality PMU machine.
But you’ll certainly find a lot of misinformation out there about some countries producing low-quality, unreliable machines. Ignore all that distracting noise: you can find a reliable lower end (or high-end) machine anywhere in the world.
So, we’re not telling you to consider location because there are certain places to “be wary of.” Rather, we’re asking you to consider your proximity to your manufacturer of choice. For instance, it’s no mystery as to why so many German artists favor the German manufacturer Cheyenne.
It’s simple: If you’re close to your machine manufacturer and your machine experiences a problem, it’s easy to reach the manufacturer for repairs. Over-the-phone service will also be much more accessible, especially if the manufacturer has a good customer service department.
Another bonus of “shopping local” has to do with your machine’s parts. You may not have considered this before, but some manufacturers exclusively source their machine parts from home. So, when you invest in a manufacturer who works like that – lower-end or otherwise – you’ll be contributing to your local economy. You can also count on consistency when all your machine parts are coming from the same place!
More on Motors
But bear in mind that most companies outsource for machine parts. Consequently, finding a low-end manufacturer who manufacturers everything 100% from locally sourced materials can be a challenge. The most commonly outsourced part is the motor. You can certainly find a lower end motor that – while perhaps less durable and long-lasting than a high-end motor – nonetheless functions well.
But we highly recommend doing your research. Read reviews about the low-end brand you’re considering, talk to other artists, and even contact the manufacturer directly to find out what kind of motors they use. You’ll also want to take a peek at the manufacturer’s warranty information in the event that any part of the machine, especially the motor that makes it run, turns out to be unreliable or faulty.
Again, a lower-end motor can work really well. But there’s a difference between a lower-end motor and an unreliable motor that’s too noisy, too slow to start, and gives up after a few procedures.
How is the brand treating its employees?
We mentioned a good warranty policy above. If the manufacturer in question doesn’t have a good warranty policy (or doesn’t have one at all), that’s a major red flag.
A good warranty policy is indicative of a larger aspect of a company’s values and ideals: it shows attentiveness and care for its customers. Incidentally, the company you invest in – lower-end or otherwise – should also show care and attentiveness for its staff.
And that’s just ethical shopping. Knowing you’re giving your money to a company that takes care of its employees means you’re supporting establishments who are contributing positively to this industry.
For example, manufacturers like Microbeau and FK Irons value all their employees with benefits that all workers should expect to see:
- Sick leave
- Insurance benefits
- Competitive salaries
- Team-building outings, exercises, and holiday + birthday celebrations
You can typically gather a lot about how a company treats its staff by their website and through hearsay from other artists who have bought from them. And, as mentioned above, offerings of a warranty and enthusiastic customer service are both excellent signs of a business you can count on.
Oh, and speaking of company practices: although low-end machines aren’t usually made with such strict tolerances and practices, they should still be made in facilities that adhere to standard OSHA safety regulations. Standardized procedures and ISO-certified facilities demonstrate an attention to safety, care, and professionalism, even if their product isn’t a high-dollar one.
READY TO SHOP ON YOUR OWN?
You’ll find plenty of high-performing PMU machines on our website from a wide variety of brands like Microbeau, Perma Blend, Axys, Peak, and more. Whether you go for a glossy new machine with a high price tag, or something simpler and more affordable, you can count on a device that was made in a standardized, safe facility from a trustworthy brand.
If you already have a favorite manufacturer or product, we’d love to hear from you. Share your favorite PMU machine brands (or models) to your Instagram and give us a tag. And don’t forget to show us the stunning results you’ve created with your favorite machine.