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Best Tattoo Stencil Printer 2024: Thermal & InkJet Picks for Artists

Create reliable tattoo stencils with our buyer's guide.

Reviewed By: Kevin Pocock

Last Updated on April 30, 2024
Best Tattoo Stencil Printer
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If you’re a tattoo artist finding that your old stencil printer isn’t as reliable as it once was, you may be looking to upgrade to one of the best tattoo stencil printer options on the market. As we were often told growing up, a tattoo is a permanent fixture, so you are right to make sure you’ve got the right tool for your clientele. Unlike other modern printers, which are capable of jack-of-all-trades printing on a wide range of media, stencil printers master the printing of complex stencils for tattoo artists and other art forms.

If you’re looking to create effective stencils, we’ve compiled a list with some of our favorite products. From budget-friendly options and high-detail units, we’ve plenty of products for you to choose from for any tattoo use case.

How We Picked the Best Tattoo Stencil Printer

Tattoo stencil printers use specialist carbon paper to create a robust stencil, fit for tracing using a tattoo needle. This minimizes the chance of mistakes and allows you to have an easy visual reference to draw on – literally. There are two primary forms of stencil printing, the first being dedicated thermal printers that can create fast, if rudimentary, stencil designs. The second is to convert an InkJet printer by using specialist stencil ink and paper.

We’ve considered both when making our selections today. In picking the best tattoo stencil printer, we considered the overall print size and speed, for general usefulness and productivity. Additionally, we factored in the complexity and detail that the printers were capable of. We settled on five products, thermal and InkJet, that both highlight the best of the stencil printer market. Across a range of budget points, we’re sure to find a printer that suits your needs!

Editor’s Pick
A LifeBasis Thermal Copier Tattoo Stencil featuring a tiger image.
Specifications
  • Printer Output: Color
  • Printer Type: Thermal
  • Connectivity Technology: None
  • Duplex Printing: No
What We Think

A great blend of affordability and versatility, this thermal stencil printer is well-suited to the most complex of tattoo designs.

Reasons to Buy
  • High customization – with plenty of options to adjust stencil thickness and detail, you won’t struggle to use this for highly varied tattoo designs.
  • Detailed results – prints are rendered in stunning detail with incredible accuracy.
Reasons to Avoid
  • Slow print speed – the printer can create complex designs, but is prone to overheating and issues if not left to cool down between prints.

Taking our top spot is the LifeBasis Thermal Copier Tattoo Stencil, a stunning (and stunningly affordable) thermal printer for tattoo stencils. Compact yet powerful, this stencil printer is well worth it’s low cost.

With a weight just under 3lbs and at only 11″ wide, this stencil printer is ideal for storing no matter your spatial limits. One of the central selling points of this printer, however, is its configuration options. Easily adjust line thickness, stencil color, and even the orientation from a simple yet intuitive menu. With plenty of options for color and complexity, you’re always able to reproduce your print no matter the specifics.

That said, you won’t be able to be as hyper-productive as we would’ve liked with this thermal printer, as the manufacturer recommends leaving the printer for at least 2 minutes between prints. This is a small issue to overcome, however, and we still recommend this top stencil printer for tattoos.

Best InkJet Tattoo Stencil Printer
  • epson ecotank et-2850 printer review
  • epson ecotank et-2850 printer review
  • An Epson EcoTank ET-2550, one of the best printers for home, on a wooden desk with its ink levels visible on the front.
  • A person efficiently inserts a paper into an Epson EcoTank all-in-one printer, specifically the ET-2850.
  • The Epson EcoTank ET-2850, an all-in-one printer, is sitting on a table next to a plant in a home.
Highly Recommended
4 /5
Editor’s Rating
How We Review
Specifications
  • Printer Output: Color
  • Printer Type: InkJet
  • Connectivity Technology: USB, Bluetooth, WiFi Direct
  • Duplex Printing: Yes
  • Printer Output: Color
  • Printer Type: InkJet
  • Connectivity Technology: USB, Wi-Fi Direct
  • Duplex Printing: Yes
Show more
What We Think

On the other end of the spectrum is the highly efficient ET-2850: not only one of our favorite printers for stencils, but one of our favorite printers.

Reasons to Buy
  • Large capacity – the ink tank system means refills are few and far between with the ET-2850.
  • Highly versatile – thanks to its full printer functionality, you can easily resize and adjust the designs before printing.
Reasons to Avoid

Converting the Epson EcoTank ET-2850 may seem like a heavy investment of time and money, but the results are worth it. This Epson printer is capable of highly varied and stunningly detailed stencil prints.

Employing large reservoirs of ink within it’s design, the ET-2850 is able to go long periods without ink refills – especially pertinent as stencil printing often depletes large amount of specialist ink. What’s more, given that the ET-2850 packs all the functionalities of a conventional printer, it makes adjusting settings and configurations even easier. Connect via any device, be it smartphone, PC or tablet; and adjust your stencil print as you would normally. For this functionality alone, the ET-2850 is a great choice.

However, converting EcoTank printers does come with a significant drawback: doing so is not officially supported. Using third-party inks and specialist paper will void any warranty you have with Epson. It compensates for this with quality, however, and the ET-2850 is still a great InkJet stencil printer.

Best Wireless Tattoo Stencil Printer
  • Phomemo M08F
Specifications
  • Printer Output: Color
  • Printer Type: Thermal
  • Connectivity Technology: USB, Bluetooth
  • Duplex Printing: No
What We Think

A bestselling thermal printer, the M08F is capable of stunning stencils for tattoos of varying complexity.

Reasons to Buy
  • Lightweight and portable – even more compact than our top pick, the M08F is easy to transport and house.
  • Simple and effective – thanks to a companion app that’s easy to use, stencils are easily imported and printer.

 

Reasons to Avoid
  • Poor battery life – the M08F is slow to recharge, and the charge doesn’t last that long.

For a portable wireless stencil printer, you need look no further than the Phomemo M08F. This compact wireless thermal printer is a bestseller, and for good reason: boasting tremendous versatility and functionality.

Connection is simple and easy: simply download the companion app and you can start sending designs. The M08F is capable of printing designs from a wide range of software, so you won’t have to worry about cumbersome conversion of files. Once uploaded, stencils are printed quickly and to a great level of detail.

However, though this printer is wireless and therefore battery-operated, that battery doesn’t last long and requires a lengthy recharge. If you use this printer infrequently, then it’s a top choice for tattoo stencils.

Best Accurate Tattoo Stencil Printer
A Hildbrandt TOEC Tattoo Printer on a white background.
Specifications
  • Printer Output: Monochrome
  • Printer Type: Thermal
  • Connectivity Technology: WiFi
  • Duplex Printing: No
What We Think

The Ideaprint is a stunning stencil printer, with phenomenal accuracy and customization options.

Reasons to Buy
  • Intuitive editing options – with the ability to edit designs in-app before printing, you can save yourself a cumbersome re-upload process.
  • High compatibility – with support for a range of carbon paper types, you’ve plenty of print options depending on local availability.

 

Reasons to Avoid
  • Slow print speed – especially compared to above options, the Ideaprint is slow to print.

For highly detailed stencils for the most accurate tattoos, consider the Hildbrandt Ideaprint, a compact WiFi stencil printer that combines a great many of our favorite functions into one printer.

With a wide range of compatible carbon paper stocks, you’ll always be able to print using the Ideaprint. Setup is quick and easy, made even quicker by the companion app that makes uploading prints a breeze. You’ve got surprisingly robust editing functions, too, meaning you can quickly make adjustments. Finally, when it comes to printing, designs are rendered near-photo-realistically for 203DPI resolution.

It’s not perfect, however: like with our top pick, this may not be the fastest printer on the market – the Ideaprint doesn’t rush the details. It’s between a feature and a flaw, but loses this thermal printer the top spot as the best tattoo stencil printer.

Best Tattoo Stencil Printer for Business
Epson ET-M3170 Best Printer For Small Business In 2022
Specifications
  • Printer Output: Color
  • Printer Type: InkJet
  • Connectivity Technology: Ethernet, WiFi
  • Duplex Printing: Yes
What We Think

For business-grade quality and speed, this ink tank printer is the ideal solution.

Reasons to Buy
  • Long-lasting ink – even for stencil printing, you’ll get even more out of your ink bottles than the ET-2850.
  • Fast print speed – stencils are ready in record time, great for fast turnarounds.
Reasons to Avoid
  • Some stencil paper can jam – be careful what paper stock you insert into the ET-M3170, as some can cause major errors – and your warranty will be voided.

Our final pick, for commercial-grade tattoo stencilling, is the Epson EcoTank ET-M3170. A larger, faster ink tank printer, this unit is capable of high-quality, reliable stencil prints.

Once you’ve converted the printer, getting started with your stencils is quick and easy, with wireless and wired connectivity options readily available. Ink is incredibly long-lasting, making this a suitable business investment with limited ongoing costs. The PrecisionCore printheads ensure high-quality results, and you can easily configure pre-printing from the display or your own devices.

So why isn’t this the best tattoo stencil printer? Aside from it’s business-based price, different paper stock can cause jamming in the printer – so take care when choosing your venture. But otherwise, the ET-M3170 is a tremendous stencil printer for business.

Features and Considerations

Buying a stencil printer is crucially different from buying a standard printer, so consider the following before you purchase.

Print Size

Though some printers are capable of huge prints, most stencil printers are limited to approximately 8.5″ wide – particularly thermal models. An InkJet printer will be capable of larger but will be more expensive.

Software

Depending on what software you’re familiar with, you’ll want to check compatibility with the stencil printer. Whilst most are compatible with a standard suite of programs such as ProCreate, Photoshop or Illustrator – it will vary. That said, some come with companion apps that make for even easier editing and resizing of stencil prints.

Print Speed

If you’re running a business, print speed is likely an important factor. Though most people don’t want an ultra-rushed tattoo, having your stencil to hand quickly is always an improvement. Check the print speed listed with the manufacturer – though it will likely vary with the complexity of the design.

InkJet vs Thermal – What is the Best Stencil Printer Type?

The question of InkJet vs Thermal is fairly situational when it comes to stencil printing. On the one hand, InkJet printers are more versatile and faster, but cost more – and involve a conversion process that can cause issues. Dedicated thermal stencil printers are easier to use, more compact and more affordable – though all those factors come with their own respective limits.

FAQs

How do I convert an Epson printer for stencil ink?

First, clean the ink reservoirs and printheads thoroughly. Then, insert stencil ink and paper, then print as you normally would. However, be aware that this voids your warranty with Epson.

What does DPI mean for stencil printing?

DPI stands for Dots per Inch, and represents the detail of the stencilled image. We recommend a resolution no lower than 200DPI for stencils.

Verdict

Verdict
A LifeBasis Thermal Copier Tattoo Stencil featuring a tiger image.
Specifications
  • Printer Output: Color
  • Printer Type: Thermal
  • Connectivity Technology: None
  • Duplex Printing: No

It may not be the fastest stencil printer on the market, but the LifeBasis Thermal Copier is our favorite for the best tattoo stencil printer. Accurate and with a gamut of configuration options, this stencil printer straddles the balance of ease-of-use and functionality with ease.

If you want to impress designs onto items rather than bodies, check out our guide on the best printers for Cricut today.

Shaun is the editor of SPCR and a contributor to PCGuide. Shaun has a broad interest in technology from all things PC gaming to standard household tech.