"Here, hold this," says Maria Gallahue-Worl, Global Healthcare Business Manager, Solvay Specialty Polymers (Alpharetta, GA), as she hands me a standard steel needle grip used by tattoo artists to ink their creations. "Now, hold this one." The second grip is molded from Radel polyphenylsulfone (PPSU) from Solvay, and it is measurably lighter. That is a big deal in the world of professional tattooing, where wrist and hand pain is rampant as a result of the weight of the device, the constant vibration and the repetitive motions. Morphix (Chicago), a designer and manufacturer of tattoo equipment, has engineered some relief for tattoo artists with what it calls the first sterilizable, injection molded tattoo grips. It sampled multiple materials for its signature Humbolt and Flatiron grips, but ultimately it settled on Radel PPSU. The material's resistance to sterilization clinched the deal, says Gallahue-Worl.
Since introducing its grips in 2008, Morphix has sampled polysulfone polyethylenimine, polyethersulfone, polyoxymethylene, polybutylene terephthalate and polyphenylene sulfide in different ratios and with different fillers. The best performance that earlier models of the Humbolt and Flatiron grips could achieve was 250 sterilization cycles before failure modes started to kick in. Then the company tested Solvay's Radel PPSU material, which reached a milestone of 1,000 sterilization cycles under load, said Morphix President and CEO, Todd Myers.