Early on in 2010 Off the Map decided to go fully disposable, due to the nature of this shop and having 40-50 guest artists per year come through. To ensure that we maintain a completely sterile environment we cleaned up our autoclaves and put them in storage. We strive to maintain strict standards of cleanliness here at the shop and feel that the nature of disposable tubes help us in that.
That being stated, it was personally a big change for myself. I had been tattooing for 4 years around then and it was almost exclusively with stainless steel tubes, usually one and a half to two inch grips due to my large hands. The battle to find a suitable replacement seemed endless. I tried about five different styles from all sorts of suppliers. I had finally settled on a company that I was fairly happy with but still had a few gripes . Mainly grips coming loose and the outer diameter of the back stem being to large for any machine not sporting a guillotine vice.
We received a box of True Tube disposable tubes from Durb the other day and I was excited to start using them right away. I think Durb and company are on to something here, a disposable tube with a stainless steel tip? its the best of both worlds and in the grand scheme of things is well worth the cost, which is about a dollar to fifty cents more then other tubes.
That afternoon I setup to outline a full sleeve with a Soba Mini-Rusto and a True Tube five diamond liner tube. The sterile packaging seemed up to snuff with what is standard in this industry , and once I opened the package and setup my machine and needle, I could see the precision in the tube was impeccable. The black plastic back stem is .300" according to the dial calipers I use, which fits so perfectly in all of my machines it is a blessing! No more fighting with tubes or using something to wedge open the clamp a little more to fit that son of a bitch tube in! That has been one of my major qualms with almost every manufactures disposable tubes, the inconsistency in outer diameter of the back stem.
I setup and started outlining right away and was brought back to last year when I was using stainless steel tubes. The feel of the needle riding against metal is truly supreme to metal against plastic. My machine was running quicker at lower voltages and did not warm up until about hour three of constant outlining . The needle fit perfectly in the steel tip and was very easy to see. I guess that would be another gripe with a bunch of tubes, I had a hard time seeing my needle in a bunch of them who seemed to have useless amounts of bulky plastic right at the tip.
Another qualm would be the flimsy feel of a lot of the plastic that is used, you can hear the machine bog down when you have to get some tension on the tube when you are at funky angle due to the weak plastic crimping down on your needle bar. The plastic used for True Tube disposable tubes is hard as nails, seriously. I had my machine upside down pulling big curves and weird angles all day on that sleeve outline and not once did I hear the machine bog.
Another thing that has had me bent about disposables is the tendency for the tip to get clogged fairly quickly. This leads to more rinsing and the worry of diluting out your pigments when you do not want to. With the metal tip on the diamond liner I had no issues with that at all. I rinsed every so often to just get any dried pigment out, but it's collection was way lower then with plastic tips.
The positives outweigh the negatives greatly in this product. The only negative thing I could say about True Tube Disposable tubes is this, one, I feel bad throwing away all that metal that could be reused , but the shop is going through a green audit soon so hopefully we can find someone to recycle our tubes and such.
As I said before I think they are really on to something here, such a solid product . I will be using them from here on out and waiting for the day they make inch and a half diameter grips or rubberized grips.(hint hint Durb!)
Get your disposable tattoo tubes at TrueTube.com