Basic tattoo equipment
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Tubes and Grips: Disposable vs. Non Disposable
In this article I would like to discuss the differences between disposable, and non-disposable needle tubes and grips. This, of course being one of the core instruments you will need to complete the tattooing process. Both, in my opinion work similarly but will vary depending on your needs as an artist or a shop.
Generally, most shops keep a stockpile of many non-disposable tubes and grips at hand, of course you will need to make sure that you keep a minimum of ten of each size to complete your tasks for the day (depending on each shop’s normal workload) as these tubes will need to be run in an ultrasonic, and an autoclave prior to their use. Purchasing non-disposable tubes and grips may be a daunting task at hand, when the up front costs tend to be greater than the disposable tubes. However, they do have the potential to save a shop money, and time shopping and categorizing the tubes and grips later down the line. The lifetime average of a non-disposable tube can vary depending on the workload of each artist and the shop. I would highly suggest replacing any tubes or grips that show significant signs of wear immediately, and an overhaul on the items at least once every three to five years.
However, if you are like some artists you will invest very little in tubes and grips each time you place an order by purchasing disposable pre-sterilized tubes and grips. This, of course allows shops without a working autoclave to proceed with normal shop operation. For this reason alone, I would suggest keeping a stockpile in the storeroom for any future mishaps with your sterilizing equipment.
Two of the biggest differences between the two are materials and assembly, while the non-disposable tubes and grips are generally made with stainless steel and other easily sterilized metals, the disposables are made up of hard plastic, which may only be rendered sterile a few times before compromising the integrity of the structure. Non-disposables are usually shipped as parts, your back tubes (stems) and the grips are separated and must be assembled prior to wrapping and sterilization. While the disposables are self contained, and one solid piece that is shipped pre-sterilized.
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