CNC X WE Tattoo Machine Review

*at time of publishing

Video Transcription: CNC X-WE Wireless Tattoo Pen Review

Okay. So we're going to be doing a review of the CNC X w wireless tattoo machine. So yeah, this is the box that it came in. Cool. So it looks nice. I like the foam and stuff around looks kind of super professional feels kind of heavy with a nice weight to it, but not too heavy. According to the site, it's 176 grams and the power pack weight is 37 grams. So you can check out all the specs and stuff. I'm not gonna go through them too much because you can check them out on the website. Here are the battery packs. So it's the charging port and you plug that into a USB; you can plug into your computer or phone charger or whatever it is. And I like how the batteries kind of just clip on with a magnet. Nice and sturdy. It's not going to come off during a tattoo at all.

So, we've got Little accessory package with our charger cable. Also got a little allen wrench and your rubber bands with it as well. Sweet.

So, we've also got a little manual, which is cool. So on the batteries, it's got all these different colors, right? It doesn't have the actual number of volts, but if you look inside the manual, then it has what voltage, each color indicates. So, you've got the dark blue is five volts and it goes all the way to 11 volts.

 Something else I like about this little manual that they give you, they tell you what voltage is recommended for different types of work. So for example, for five volts it says light dot work kind of stuff. And then the way down to 11 volts, it's got, you know, that's what you use for lining and stuff like that.

I probably wouldn't have it all the way at 11. I maybe pull it down to about 10, but yeah, it also tells you how long the charge lasts at each voltage, which is pretty cool. So if you’re just starting out, this is really good to kind of just give you a guide of, “what voltage should I be using for lining? What should I be using for packing shading?” And it kind of gives you all that just here. But I think the thing to remember when you're tattooing is that you can use any voltage to do any type of tattoo. It just means that the higher the volts, the quick you've got to move your hand and sort of the lower, the volts are slow the slower you move your hands, but this is a good starting point.

So, on this tattoo machine, the grip comes off. So, if you had an autoclave, you could sterilize this. A lot of the pen machines, the top part won't come off. That means that, you know, you, you've got to wrap it super carefully. And if you're tattooing and you tilt your machine back, like if you're doing someone's back, then the ink can flow back into the machine and contaminate your machine. But because you can take the top off, you can just put it in your autoclave, which is really nice. But I know a lot of you guys don't have autoclaves. So what you'll have to do is you can put like a clip cord sleeve over the top to wrap it, which is really easy. That's what I love about the pen machines as well - you don't need annoying machine bags.

So to cover machines like this, you can literally just fit a clip cord sleeve over the top of it, and then, you know, tape it up at the front. And then it's kind of good to go.

This comes with a 3.5-millimeter stroke, which is kind of like a good all-rounder. One thing I didn't like though is how you adjust the stroke. So, these machines have an adjustable stroke, you can change them. I think they go from all the way from three, all the out to a four, don't quote me on that though. I know they've got like a bunch of different stroke variations, but right now it's the 3.5, right? So this is kind of how the stroke works. Now, it's got a lot of lubricant, which is kind of weird, you don’t see that much in a lot of machines. So not really used to using pen machines, like guess I use injectors mostly throughout my tattoo, but yeah, it's got a lot of this weird kind of lubricant in there.

But the thing that I really didn't like about the stroke, right? So in the manual specifically says that to change the stroke, you take this little wheel off with the Allen key and there's a tiny little screw just at the front there.

As you’re unscrewing that, there’s supposed to be a, a small two millimeter gap from the bottom of this stroke wheel to the machine. Now, the problem with that is, you know, if you misjudge that when you, when you are attaching a stroke wheel, that's going to change the, your stroke, because if this is sticking further out, it's going to be different. It's not going to be like, you know 3.5, it might be a 3.7-millimeter stroke or something like that.

And also, it's really difficult to change. I'm trying to put the Allen Key in it. But it’s just flipping around and I'm getting all this grease everywhere, which is really annoying when changing a stroke. I like it to be super easy. I don't like it to be kind of an annoying endeavor, but yeah, anyway, that's how you take it off. You, you just get unscrew it like that. And then there's a little groove.

It might be a bit hard to see, but just on the very edge of it, there's a little groove and you're supposed to line that up with the bottom of the stroke wheel to get it to sit. Right. But yeah, that's really frustrating. It’s super hard to do because it just kind of twists when you try and hold it. And it's just kind of a real pain to screw it back on. And also there's supposed to be a two millimeter gap between the bottom of the stroke wheel and the machine. And if, if you don't have that gap, it's going to put pressure on the motor and it's going to wear out the machine really fast, which is what you don't want. So, and this machine costs, you know 299 bucks. So, the last thing you want to do is, you know, kind of wear it out.

I've got a little gap, so there's no pressure on the motor. There’s a picture in the manual you can see that shows you what it looks like when there’s not a good gap. It needs that two-millimeter gap, which is hard to judge, you know, if you're doing that by eye. It can be pretty difficult to get it right. And if you get it wrong, then it's going to change the length of your stroke. That's something that I definitely don't like about it.

It’s not a direct drive motor, so it will have a bit of a softer hit. Something that I think is actually really cool as well is that when I bought this machine, it came with two packs of free tattoo needles. You know, they didn't have to do that. They chucked them in anyway. So yeah, it was cool. So I was going to give them a try. These are the Police cartridges.

So, what I got with my machine are seven round liners, 10 gauge. That’s a good size liner, you can do a lot of stuff with a seven. So, you just kind of put the cartridges in; they’re a bit tight going in. It’s pretty hard to get it out, which is good. You know, it's not going to come out during a tattoo, which is what you want.

It looks like you can only put the needles in the cartridge one way. Cause when you put them in this way, the needles kind poke out. But when you do it other way it's all good. So let's change that depth. I really don't like the depth changing mechanism. It doesn't twist as well as on other machines.

It’s hard to kind of maneuver. So, you just want to make sure that before you start like twisting needle depth, that the machine housing on the batteries is screwed on really tight. Otherwise, it's going to be difficult to twist the, the needle depth. I don't like that when you change the needle depth, the cartridge at the front kind of rotates, which is a bit annoying. You just want to make sure as well that when you do adjust your needle depth, that needle fully retracts into the cartridge when it's off. If it doesn't, you're not going to get good ink flow.

I’ll go ahead and turn on the machine. So yeah, that's a good sound, it’s pretty light. And you know, it's comfortable to hold onto. I'm going to give it a whirl on some fake skin in a second, and I'll wrap it up.

All in all, it feels pretty comfortable. I don't like the way that you have to change the stroke and it's a little bit difficult to get the cartridges in. I'm sure once you've had the machine a while, it might kind of loosen it up a little bit, but yeah, it just kind of frustrates me. How, if you put the needles in one way, then they don't fully retract into the cartridge, but when you put them in the other way, they do, which is a bit weird to me. I don't really like that.

The button's a bit stiff. Yeah. So, you kind of got to really kind of dig in there to hit it. I don't really like that. So, like it's kind of tap click, but that's not that big of a deal. You could get used to it in time, but yeah, let's give this machine a try on some faith skin and see how it goes.

So I've got the WWE machine all wrapped up and ready to go One thing I will say though is that just before you do start to use this machine, make sure you set your desired depth before you wrap it up, just cause with the clipboard sleeve on the outside, it does make it a bit difficult to twist and adjust the needle depth because the machine's in three parts. You’ve got the initial grip, then there's the needle depth. And then there's also the motor housing where you change the stroke. There's literally three parts that kind of twist and lock. So, when you've got a plastic sleeve over it, it is a bit hard to, you know, kind of grab the one that you want and, and change the depth of it. So yeah, just be mindful of that. Set the depth before you get it wrapped up and then it should make it a bit easier for you.

Cool. So, we're just going to start on a couple of traditional hands. Now this machine is a bit more pricey than the Dragon Hawk. So we're going to see if it's got enough power to push a 14 liner. If it doesn't have enough power out, I'm going to go down to the seven and then just kind of use my three liner for the smaller details. I'm hoping it can push a 14, but we'll see how it goes.

Then, we're just going to lay out our black ink. And then I'll put some color in over the top of that, just like we did with the Dragon Hawk. And as I'm using the machine, I'll just give you my thoughts on it and how it feels when it's shading and packing. And then towards the end, I like giving my final thoughts and whether or not recommend the machine.

It took a bit of getting used to, but I can get lines with the 14 liner, so it does have a fair bit more power than the Dragonhawk. You can turn it up quite a bit more. It definitely has a stronger kick too, that you can kind of tell where the extra money went when they made this machine.

But, there are a few things I don’t like. So, when you're using the machine, it just has lights, instead of the actual voltage. I think this is something you get used to with time, but it would be nice to know the actual voltage that you're using just because when you're first kind of using it, you have to look the manual if you can’t remember which color is for which voltage.

And then, you know, right now it's just like kind of blinking a bunch of lights and you know, I’m not sure if that means that the batteries are run low or if it’s something with the voltage. It's just a bit confusing, but again, once you use machine a couple times, you get used to that. It wouldn't be an issue, but just to point it out.

Also, with the stroke, it says a 3.5 millimeter stroke, but it's kind weird. Like it feels a little bit longer than that. I'm able to hang out a 14 liner enough to kind of float the needle and see what I'm doing, which I can't normally do on the DragonHawk, which is also supposed to also be a 3.5 millimeter stroke. So that’s a bit unusual/ Could just be the way the machine is built. But, it can put lines in with a 14 liner, which is nice.

Let's see how it goes with the small in groupings. I'm now moving the machine down to five volts. And what I really like is that, while the DragonHawk goes down to six, this machine goes down to five, which means when you're doing your pepper shading for the traditional type pieces, you can get that real kind of dotted, peppery effect. It's better than what you can do with the DragonHawk. So that's another thing I like about it.

You can see that as I flick it out, the gap between the dots is huge, which is what gives you those really nice, smooth fades when you’re whipping out your blacks.

Cool. So just put the blacks in and it's looking good. I love how you can turn the machine down real low and get those nice peppery shades in the skin. Well, it's got a lot of power when you turn down the volts. I love that it's an adjustable stroke too. So when you purchase it, it only comes with a 3.5 millimeter, which is kind of like an all-rounder.

You can use it for lining, packing and shading, mostly just packing. But if you were to change that to something like a three millimeter stroke or like a 2.8, then you could get even softer and lighter shading. So that's awesome.

Let’s see how it goes with color. I'm going to be using a 12 gauge 15 mag long taper from T tech and I'll have to change the depth a bit cause every cartridge is different.

Okay. So I've just been messing around with the depth, right? So I like to use our T tech cartridges for my shading, a 12 gauge. And this could just be a thing with the cartridge, but I've said it to the max depth and it still kind of doesn't come out as far as I generally like it to. I can still work with it, but it just means I'm going to have a little bit less visibility. I'm going to have to ride the tip as opposed to floating the needles. But yeah, I didn't have that problem with the Dragon Hawk. I was able to get them out far enough by adjusting the depth.

Okay. So it looks like I've had an issue midway through the tattoo. What's happened is that the screw on the stroke wheel has come loose. So, I'm just going to have to fix it. I’m not a huge fan of the way that they, they have their adjustable stroke. It's kind of annoying. Yeah. It's very difficult to adjust the way that they change the stroke.

Cool. So, we've just finished the tattoo with the CNC X WE. All in all, there were a few things I liked about the machine. There was a few things that I didn't. So first of all, it handles pretty well, but I really hate the way that is designed. So when we take the, the sleeve off of the machine, because it's split in into three different parts, you've got the battery part, which twists, then you've got the battery housing, which also twists. And then you've also got the needle depth which also twists, which is three parts of the machine that twist. So when you've got a clip cord sleeve on this and you'll try adjust the depth mid tattoo, you know, different parts of the machine will twist. And it can be really difficult to set the depth, which is quite annoying.

Midway through the tattoo the bolt on the stroke wheel loosened up and then it just kind of had to fix it. But also, you have to set a perfect two-millimeter gap from the base of the wheel to the machine, which is really hard to judge by eye. Especially if you're kind of just starting out and you're not used to these types of machines. Yeah. So the price isn't bad; it's 299. But in terms of the price out of 10, I probably rate that a six. It's not the cheapest machine, but it's definitely not the most expensive either.

You can get machine way cheaper and way more expensive. So it's kind of I'd say middle of the range. In terms of quality, I didn’t like the design, but it performed well, it did a decent tattoo, but I'd probably have to give it say a five for quality, because I just didn't like the way that the design is and the way that the strokes set up.

In terms of how it handled: so lining, it was great for lining.

I was able to get in solid 14 lines. It took me a bit of getting used to in the beginning. But I was able to get in those thicker needle groupings, which isn't always easy for these pen style machines. Also the shading, it was fine. I was able to turn the volts down really low, to get that really nice peppery shade. And it still ran at, you know, five volts, which was great.

And in terms of packing again, no troubles, I was using a 15 mag 12 gauge. So, it's quite a large needle grouping and didn't have any trouble pushing it through into the fake skin for the handling. I'd give it an eight. Lines great, packs great, shades great. It's a great all round machine. It felt better than the dragon Hawk. When I was tattooing with it, it felt like I had a lot more power.

So when I needed to, you know, put in those thick needles, I could do it. And also this is a bit unusual. Like it says that this is a 3.5 millimeter stroke. It also says that with a Dragon Hawk Mask, but I was able to hang my needles out a lot further with this machine and have them still retract into the tip of the cartridge, which was good. And when you do adjust the stroke, if you have it too high or too low on that spinning wheel thing, it will change the length, so just be mindful of that.

In terms of would I recommend it? Probably not. That's not my most favorite machine, just because of the design. Like it did do a decent tattoo, but you can get plenty more machines that handle just as well that have a far better design. So yeah, probably not one that I'd recommend. CNC does have a bunch of other great machines, but yeah, just this one wasn't for me. And if I was starting out, it's not the machine I would get. So, I hope that helps guys. And I'll see you in the next review, take it easy.

Our Score

7.0/10

GOOD

Price: $300 (6/10)

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Pretty good quality for the lower price point.

Quality (5/10)

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Loosening the cam wheel is difficult, and twisting the grip to adjust depth is hard because all the other parts of the machine twists as well.

Handling (8/10)

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Machine is powerful enough to push 14 round liners, and it can run on just 5 volts, helping you get smooth shades.

PROS:

  • Great all-rounder (good for lining, shading, and packing).
  • More power than most mid-range machines.
  • 2 rechargeable batteries, so you never have to stop tattooing to charge the machine.

CONS:

  • The stroke wheel is very difficult to work with, and you have to judge it by eye, which will be difficult for new artists.
  • Because the machine has 3 twisting parts, making adjustments while the pen machine cover is on is hard.

Product Details

Weight

176 (with power pack)

Stroke

3.5mm (interchangeable stroke)

Motor

Custom Germany coreless motor

Voltage

5-11V

Speed

10060 rpm (no-load speed)

Length

141mm (with power pack)

Connection

USB-C

Product Details

Weight

176 (with power pack)

Stroke

3.5mm (interchangeable stroke)

Motor

Custom Germany coreless motor

Voltage

5-11V

Speed

10060 rpm (no-load speed)

Diameter

141mm (with power pack)

Length

USB-C

CNC X-WE Wireless Tattoo Machine - Our Review:

While CNC Tattoo Supply offers a lot of great tattoo machines, the CNC X-WE wasn’t our favorite.

Originally, the X-WE surprised us. A powerful and versatile pen machine, it had no problems pushing 14 round liners, and it was able to do traditional pepper shading by running all the way down at 5 volts. It’s one of the best “all-rounder” pen machines we’ve tried so far.

However, the design of this tattoo machine makes it difficult to adjust, and we experienced a few issues in the middle of the tattoo process.

A Powerful, but Forgiving Machine

The CNC X-WE is one of the rare pen tattoo machines that is not a direct drive. Because it has a little extra “give” to it, this machine gives artists a small margin of error if they go a little too deep into the skin.

However, it’s still a very powerful machine.

we wireless tattoo pen with power pack

Unlike the Dragonhawk Mast Tour pen (one of it’s top competitors), the CNC X-WE is pretty powerful and has more of a “kick” to it while you’re tattooing. It also comes with 2 chargeable power bolts that just click onto the machine with a magnet. This means that if you are always charging one, you won’t have to stop in the middle of a tattoo session to wait for your machine to charge.

The Design is not User-Friendly

The design of the machine makes it difficult to use and adjust.

The X-WE has three pieces that twist: the grip, the depth mechanism, and the motor housing. This makes it hard to only move one piece without moving the others, especially after the machine is wrapped up for a tattoo.

While you can buy the 3mm and 4mm cam wheels to change the stroke length, it’s very difficult to get the cam wheels on and off (in fact, it moved mid-tattoo, and we had to adjust it). CNC tattoo supply does provide an Allen wrench and gives advice in the manual about how to attach the cam wheel correctly, but most of the area is greased up and hard to get ahold of.

cnc we tattoo machine with dual shaft replaceable stroke

Additionally, you have to manually set a depth of 2mm between the cam wheel and the motor of the machine. For new artists that don’t have much experience adjusting machines, it can be hard to get that measurement just right.

In-Depth User Manual for New Artists

While the machine wasn’t the most user-friendly one we’ve tried, the X-WE does come with an in-depth user manual that’s perfect for beginners.

wireless tattoo machine manual explaining the power bolt and battery life
wireless tattoo machine explaining how to use the power bolt

Because the front of the machine labels voltage with colors instead of numbers, there is a chart in the manual explaining which color light matches which voltage. It also makes suggestions on which voltage is best for lining, shading, dotwork, etc.

While voltage is more about hand speed than the actual job you’re doing, the suggestions will be very helpful for new artists who aren’t sure where to start. 

Who the CNC X-WE Is (and Isn’t) For:

The CNC X-WE is a good choice for people who want to upgrade from a cheap machine, but aren’t ready to make the $600-$1000 investment in a professional machine.

However, while we’re fans of CNC, this wasn’t the machine for us, and we don’t recommend it to people who are just starting out because of how complicated it is to change the stroke and make adjustments.

Get the CNC X-WE Tattoo Machine

wireless tattoo machine cnc and power supply cord
cnc tattoo machine with power bolt for professional tattoo artists
complete wireless tattoo machine with two power bolts for professional tattoo artists

Other Tattoo Machine Reviews

Dragonhawk Mast Tour Pen Review

CNC Q2 Pen Review

Inkjecta Flite Nano Review

Dragonhawk Mast Tour Pen Review

CNC Q2 Pen Review

Inkjecta Flite Nano Review

Dragonhawk Mast Tour Pen Review

CNC Q2 Pen Review

Inkjecta Flite Nano Review

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AUTHOR
Nathan Molenaar

Nathan is a licensed professional tattoo artist with over 8 years’ experience working at studios across the globe, including Celebrity Ink, the world's largest tattoo studio chain. When he's not tattooing, he spends his free time sharing his experience and knowledge with aspiring artists who dream of pursuing a career in the tattooing industry.

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