Soft Plastic Gives Tattoo Artists a Better Grip on Their Tools
Product designers and artists share a similar trait: They love to create things. How appropriate then, that product designers at Chicago-based Morphix Inc. are dedicated to making high-quality specialty tools for tattoo artists worldwide. Founded in 2008, Morphix has a market presence in more than 30 countries.
The company creates products with innovative designs and unique features that add value for tattoo artists. Its main products are Humbolt and Flatiron needle grips, Humbolt Kush needle grip covers, Kurv tips and Humbolt disposable needle grips with Kurv tips.
Initially, the company fabricated its needle grips out of metal. Unfortunately, the grips lacked proper ergonomic design and were too heavy for extended use by tattoo artists.
“[Their] hands take a beating,” acknowledges Todd Myers, president and CEO of Morphix. “Between the heavy equipment, constant vibration and repetitive motion, many artists battle with wrist and digital [finger] pain throughout their career.”
Aware of this, Myers has spent several years trying to make his needle grips lighter and more comfortable for tattoo artists. He’s tried several thermoplastics in different ratios and with different fillers. These include polysulfone polyethylenimine, polyethersulfone, polyoxymethylene, polybutylene terephthalate and polyphenylene sulphide.
From these materials, the best needle grip performance Myers could achieve was 250 steam-heat sterilization cycles before failure modes started to appear. He then tried to manufacture the grips out of aluminium—but doing so priced Morphix out of the market.
Eventually, the company tested and liked Radel, a polyphenylsulfone (PPSU) resin made by Solvay Specialty Polymers. Shortly thereafter, Morphix became the first manufacturer to make a sterilizable, injection-molded tattoo grip.
“We’ve never seen a thermoplastic material perform as well in stress testing,” says Myers of the resin. “Each grip design integrates two sets of metal threads to which we simultaneously applied 101.7 newton-meters of torque without observing any cracking or breakage. The tensile strength for Radel is off the charts for our product. We reached a milestone of 1,000 sterilization cycles under load.”
Besides lasting four times longer than earlier designs, PPSU grips offer many other benefits. The grips are 60 percent lighter, and feature more ergonomic contours and surface textures for greater artist comfort and better control. Plus, their increased durability helps them maintain good aesthetics despite daily exposure to dried ink and harsh surface disinfectants.
Equally important to Myers, the grips cost less to manufacture and can be produced in a wide selection of colors for greater customer appeal. He also likes that Radel is flame retardant, offers excellent chemical and heat resistance (deflection temperature of 405 F), and comes in medium, high and very high flow formulations for injection molding.
Besides Radel, Solvay manufactures high-performance and ultra-high-performance polymers for more than 1,500 products used in aerospace, alternative energy, automotive, healthcare, packaging, semiconductors, wire and cable, and other industries.
For more information on injection-moldable resins, call 770-346-0583 or visit www.solvayspecialtypolymers.com.