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Remember – Work safe, work clean and work hard.
Tubes and needles are great and they’ve been in the tattoo industry longer than Sean Connery has had a shpeech impediment. With a tube and needle setup, your station is can to end up looking like the lab in a sci-fi movie if you're lining and shading. Even though I think sci-fi movies are the bomb-diggity, I personally wouldn’t want to fish through a sea of tubes and machines to change out to a shader, set the needle and adjust the tube.
This is where a cartridge needle setup may fit the bill. Allowing you to keep your artsy-fartsy juices flowing and your station O.C.D. clean with as little a distraction possible.
Imagine a wonderful place, where everything is as simple as a “click” to change. You’d probably have a hotter gal-pal, or boy-toy, but I’m not here to judge. Now, cartridges may not be able to fix your relationship problems but they can make your job a bit more enjoyable.
Musclebound guy who physically can’t scratch his nose: “What exactly is a cartridge grip and can I use them with my machine?”
I’m so glad you asked. Prepare yourself to feel the knowledge flow through you like the steroids that prevent you from playing “nose-goes” with your friends.
Like the standard tube and needle setup all of us know so well, a cartridge grip will fit into any machine that can clamp onto a tube. Which means you don’t need any special equipment, outside of the cartridge grip, to get started. It’s nothing too fancy and they can be found as autoclavable grips that can be sanitized or as disposables.
Cartridge grips look similar to a standard tube from the grip, up. At their base, the tube has a larger opening that a push rod pokes through. This push rod is basically a short needle bar with a small ball bearing on the end instead of a needle grouping.
This bearing will land in a small divot on the cartridge needle, but we’ll get to that in a moment. Inside this magical hole there are grooves lining the rim. This is where your cartridge needle is going to lock into, allowing you to easily twist out one cartridge for another. Giving you the ability to change from a liner to a mag in seconds.
Musclebound guy: “I feel the knowledge! Give me more! Are there any advantages to one style of grip over another?”
Calm yourself big guy. The advantage to a autoclavable grip is all personal preference. Like “happy wife, happy life”, keeping your customers content is part of the job. Disposables give you the advantage of ensuring a client you’re using equipment that has only touched your gloves and their body. Relieving worry about cross contamination.
The overall length of the needle apparatus is shorter than the attention span of an angsty teen at a musical but cartridge needles are very simple in design. Therefore, the push-rod, located in the cartridge grip, is needed. That push-rod is going to rest up against the back of the cartridge needle assembly, in a tiny divot, when you have a cartridge needle pushed into the grip and twisted it into the “locked” position.
Muscle bro: “So once I’ve locked a cartridge into place, the needle will be pushed down by the needle bar that’s inside the grip?”
Exactly! Simple so far, right?
Muscle bro: “…but how does it come back up? The needle isn’t attached to the push-rod.”
Nice observation my colossal friend! Though the needle isn’t connected to the push-rod itself, there is a tiny membrane system inside the needle cartridge that pulls the needle it back inside the tip. The two actions work together to repeat the motion of pushing the needle out and pulling it back in. The membrane gives the needle a crisp response and greater consistency than other designs.
All of this means that changing out needle style during a session is as quick and easy as a high school couple on prom night. Freeing up space at your station for other activities or that Facetime session you’re currently having with your soon to be ex that you wanted to change with a “click”.