What it is: The Aluminum Orion by Next Generation Tattoo Machines
What it's used for: Embedding pictures of skulls, dragons, and stars in human skin.
Its lightweight frame is perfectly balanced for an artist's hand. Good thing, given that its reciprocating needles punch millimeter-deep inky holes into skin at up to 1,000 stabs a minute. Tattoo machines (only lowly "scratchers" call them "guns") have evolved considerably since Thomas Edison invented the tech, which he used to make stencils for printing. Today, the most advanced models are produced by eminent tattooists who often design the parts using computer-based fabrication tools and then assemble the pieces by hand. The $300, 5.6-ounce Orion comes from Jason Guy, 35, of Moreno Valley, California. He uses two reduced-size electro magnetic coils to impel the needles, and a steel leaf spring to yank them back. With its compact coils and aircraft-aluminum frame, Orion is one of the lightest rigs available — yet it's powerful enough to drive 15 needles at once for heavy shading. Next!