Tattoo Innovators: The Creators of the Cheyenne Hawk | Painful Pleasures Community

Tattoo Innovators: The Creators of the Cheyenne Hawk

We take a look MT.DERM's transition from medical equipment manufacturers to Cheyenne Hawk tattoo machine innovators who up the ante each time they reinvent the Hawk.

by PainfulPleasures Last Updated: May 16, 2021

There are hundreds of reputable tattoo machine manufacturers in the world, some of which make small batches of custom machines while others mass-produce world-renowned tattoo machines. Black Cheyenne Hawk Motor With Blue Cheyenne Spirit GripAt best, you may only be able to list of a dozen of the leading tattoo machine manufacturers without hopping online for clues, but if you were to make such a list, our money's on Cheyenne being one of your top-of-mind tattoo machine brands. How did Cheyenne get to be a household name in the tattoo community? Why does the Cheyenne Hawk continue to be one of the most popular and best-selling tattoo machines on the market? In a word, innovation.

From the beginning, German-based MT.DERM GmbH (the company that birthed Cheyenne) focused on developing precise manufacturing standards to yield high-end equipment. It wasn't tattoo machines that they were producing at that time, though, when they were operating under the name MediUm-TECH back in 1998. The company's initial focus was on manufacturing precision medical equipment, particularly for cosmetic procedures. It wasn't a far-fetched idea for the company to add tattoo machines to their product line in short order, particularly since the art of permanent makeup had grown so much in popularity by then and MT.DERM already had a presence in the cosmetic supplies market. 


Why Is the Cheyenne Hawk an Innovation in Tattoo Machines?

When MT.DERM set out to make their first tattoo machine, the Cheyenne Hawk, they took the kind of steps that only true innovators take to ensure they build a product that will meet the needs of their target audience. The first step may seem obvious if you've read this comment on Cheyenne's website: Diagram of a Cheyenne Hawk Rotary Tattoo Machine"Only those who understand the needs of tattoo artists are able to build a machine suitable to their needs." With that in mind, they interviewed and listened to tattoo artists. The company was then better equipped to write up product system requirements that would allow a talented team of engineers to build the product that tattoo artists demanded.

Next, MT.DERM took their system requirements to their engineering team and asked them to render a conceptual graphic drawing of the tattoo machine they envisioned. Their engineers utilize a CAD system to develop all of MT.DERM's products, so they did the same when they designed the Cheyenne Hawk. This computer-aided design (CAD) software program allows engineers to visually see ideas come to life and essentially provide instructions for how to manufacture the resulting product once the design is fine-tuned. The rendering includes specs for the size, shape and style of each component part, as well as a road map for assembling the product. An image like the one to the right may be included in a set of CAD drawings.

Once the design for the initial Cheyenne Hawk tattoo machine was fine-tuned, MT.DERM put their years of experience manufacturing medical devices into effect to create the prototype of what was soon to be one of the most state-of-the-art tattoo machines available on the market–a machine touting sterility, ergonomic design for comfortable handling, safety features like needles that auto-retract when the machine powers down, and more. The Hawk's prototype went through rounds of testing and review with both MT.DERM's in-house team of designers and engineers and their tattoo artist consultants. Once the final product was mounted and ready to go into mass production and MT.DERM's facility in Berlin, Germany, was setup to start rolling Hawks off the assembly line, the Cheyenne Hawk began it's quick ascent from conceptualization to manufacturing to distribution and, finally, into artists' hands where it belonged.


A New Product Lets the Hawk's True Spirit Shine Through

The Cheyenne Hawk Spirit Tattoo Machine SetVigilant observation of the Cheyenne Hawk in use, feedback from tattoo artists, and regular Q&A testing laid the foundation for the second iteration of the Cheyenne Hawk: The Cheyenne Hawk Spirit. With this version of the Hawk, Cheyenne mastered previously-found technical challenges effectively and created a tattoo machine that's "tough, powerful, and sensitive at the same time", as Cheyenne says. Any time Cheyenne spots a way they can improve the Spirit, they jump on it–and not only before starting a new serial production. This "Continuous Improvement Process" is another one of Cheyenne's innovative research and development procedures that allows them to react quickly to possible defects and fix them before they cause problems for the tattoo artists who use Cheyenne tattoo equipment.

How is the Hawk Spirit better than the original Cheyenne Hawk tattoo machine? First, it now accommodates 29+ different needle cartridges, making all designs possible for Hawk Spirit users. There's a perfect cartridge for every bit of line, shading, filling, and highlighting work, and it can be popped in with a single movement.

With the introduction of the Cheyenne Hawk Spirit, Cheyenne also added color to their product line. Cheyenne grips now come in colors like purple, orange, red, and silver, so that you can find the perfect splash of color to brighten up your tattoo equipment collection.

Other benefits of the Cheyenne Hawk Spirit include less noise, reduced vibration, highly-sensitive reaction times, clean, precise punctures, easily-adjustable needle depth that can be altered by twisting a hand piece, and a perfect power supply when you add the PU II to your Cheyenne gear. The Spirit is also certified by TÜV SÜD according to the quality systems DIN EN ISO 9001:2008 and DIN EN ISO 13485:2007.


Cheyenne Takes The Market by Storm Again With the Hawk Thunder

Innovators aren't ones to sit on their heels for long, so it's no surprise that Cheyenne came out with the Hawk Thunder in fairly short order after the Spirit took the market by storm. The Thunder is a carefully thought-out machine that combines the best of the original Hawk and Hawk Spirit with brand new innovations.Cheyenne Hawk Thunder Tattoo Machine Motor & Grip in Black The Hawk Thunder is a stronger machine, which you can hear and feel as soon as you power it up. The enhanced power and increased stroke (now 4mm) allow high-precision hits and line work done in a single pass. It also produces authentic, rich shading and stunning colors overall, resulting in stunning tattoos that are as good as you are.

The Cheyenne Hawk Thunder is all about power. You can use it for an style of tattooing and to create any visual concept without the slightest degradation in quality. Cheyenne's now 55 different needle cartridge options allow Thunder users unlimited tattooing possibilities. Between the machine's dramatically-increased stroke, its higher drive rotational speed, and the optimized eccentric tappet, the Cheyenne Hawk Thunder provides super-high-speed needle action and optimal acceleration potential. You can also hear the difference in the way the Thunder's engine power reserves are used so much more effectively.

One thing that hasn't changed is the way the Cheyenne Hawk's distinctive, ergonomic design has persevered throughout every iteration of Cheyenne Hawk tattoo machines. And, as always, their versatile selection of needle cartridges accommodates all tattooing styles and concepts. With the advent of the Hawk, the Spirit, the Thunder, and the countless iterations that are sure to follow by some of the greatest innovators in tattooing, we can see that what Cheyenne touts on their website is a true description of their unparalleled tattoo machines: "Technical Precision Made in Germany."


Additional Cheyenne Resources

Cheyenne PU II Tattoo Power Supply UnitIf you'd like to learn more about MT.DERM and Cheyenne, get started by reading our full-length article, Cheyenne Hawk Tattoo Machines & Professional Tattoo Equipment. You'll also find additional information about each Cheyenne product we carry in our Cheyenne Hawk Tattoo Machines section, which includes Cheyenne Hawk tattoo machines, grips, needle cartridges, power units (both the PU I & PU II), cables, and other Cheyenne accessories. You can also review the MT.DERM and Cheyenne tattoo equipment websites to learn more about the companies and their diverse product lines, or check out these two informational resources published by Cheyenne: Cheyenne Information PDF and The Cheyenne Hawk Maintenance Manual. Our Forum is another great place to talk to other artists about their experiences with Cheyenne tattoo equipment and post questions for our knowledgeable moderators and community members to answer.


A Note About Shopping for Cheyenne SuppliesCheyenne Bundle of 8 Packs of Needle Cartridges

All of the product links on this page point to our Wholesale Store, where tattoo artists, shop owners and other industry professionals can take advantage of special pricing on orders of $100-$499.99. Those industry professionals spending $500 or more can enjoy our absolute lowest prices by shopping in our Distributor Store. All smaller orders for under $100 should be placed in our Retail Store, where we also offer wholesale prices to the general public.

Additional Ways to Save: When you visit some product detail pages, you may notice text above the "Add to Cart" button indicating if a lower price per item is offered if a certain bulk quantity is purchased. Some items are available in discounted cases, too. You can also save using the coupons in our weekly newsletters. To sign up to receive our newsletters, visit your preferred store (Retail | Wholesale | Distributor), scroll to the bottom-right corner, and enter your email address.

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