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PhiContour Cartridge Configurations Explained

PhiContour Cartridge Configurations Explained

Once you decide to become a member of the PMU community, there is one important thing to keep in mind – there is no limit to your creativity.

However, to truly be able to access your full potential as an artist, you first need to build a foundation of technical skills and knowledge needed for top performance in every step of your career. Mastering needle theory is a big part of that!

In this guide, we take a closer look at Phi cartridges and explain the most important factors to consider when choosing the best PMU needles for your machine.

What Are PMU Cartridges?

A needle cartridge is a disposable part of a PMU machine, needed to implement pigment into the skin.

Each needle cartridge comes with a specific set of properties that meets the artist's needs in a way that is first and foremost compatible with the chosen PMU machine.

To identify the optimal PMU needle cartridge for a particular device, the artist must consider its intended purpose, specifically, the treatment or treatments it is meant to be used for.

Another important factor to consider when choosing PMU cartridges is the client's skin type.

What Are the Most Important Characteristics of PMU Cartridges?

When choosing the perfect Phi cartridge for your PMU treatments, there are several important factors to consider.

1. Needle Position

The position of the needle inside the cartridge is what determines precision. A PMU needle can be centralized (CE) or decentralized (EX).
A centralized needle is the preferred option when shading or lining at standard speeds and is the most commonly found needle position in PMU cartridges.

A decentralized needle is a unique feature of Phi cartridges, meaning the needle itself is more flexible and is best used when working with slower speeds and in slower hand movements. 
A decentralized needle is always leaning on the upper cartridge wall, eliminating the possibility of clean punctures - punctures without pigment - due to the way pigment seeps down the needle.

Minimizing the number of punctures without pigment is crucial to minimizing skin damage. The
fewer pokes made to deliver the desired results, the less trauma the skin will go through, so any supplies that diminish this are definitely worth trying.

2. Diameter

A needle's diameter, otherwise known as needle size, is another important factor when choosing a PMU cartridge. The main purpose of a needle’s diameter is to give elasticity to the needle and determine how much pigment the needle will pick up.
To measure the exact diameter of a PMU needle, an artist takes into consideration the widest point of the needle before it tapers off to a point

The most commonly used needle diameters in the PMU industry are
0.18/ 0.20/ 0.25mm, referring to needles that are very thin and flexible. These sizes are only recommended for experienced artists, to achieve precise details. 

Needle diameters that are over
0.25/ 0.30/ 0.35mm are meant for use on all skin types and are a universal size meant for use in all PMU techniques. They help diminish skin trauma, so they’re better for newer artists.

3. Taper 

The taper refers to the length of the PMU needle’s point. It directly affects pigment flow. Not only that, the needle taper affects how much trauma is inflicted during the tattooing process. 

When choosing between tapers, the most important thing to take into consideration is the client's skin sensitivity and skin type. 

Let’s take a look at the differences between various taper lengths:

Short Taper

Shorter taper needles implant pigment much quicker, but they do leave a larger puncture in the skin, compared to long taper needles. This can lead to more trauma to the client’s skin, so this taper length is mostly recommended for experienced artists

Medium Taper

A medium taper is recommended for most PMU techniques as it holds a moderate amount of color and creates an intermediate-sized puncture in the skin. It provides versatility for both moderate lining and shading, allowing for a controlled and even ink flow. 
Medium tapers take a bit longer to implant pigment compared to short tapers but they cause less trauma to the client’s skin. 

Long Taper

Long tapers cause the least amount of trauma to the client’s skin and hold less pigment when compared to medium and short tapers, which allows for slow color building. A long taper creates the smallest pixelation when shading, which is a great benefit when creating a smooth transition.

4. Elasticity

The elasticity of the needle is needed to create a powder effect when shading. Elasticity allows artists to achieve micro pixels with high strokes, which can be very helpful for beginners. Keep in mind that the thinner the needle, the bigger its elasticity.
Depending on the diameter and the supporting auxiliary needle, main needle elasticity can be positioned low (a) or high (b).

Needle elasticity increases with more needle exposure.

5. Single Needle Length 

All Phi needle cartridges of smaller diameters are actually composed of not one, but two different-sized needles. One acts as an auxiliary needle that supports the main needle and prevents it from excessive movement - it does not penetrate the skin.

Single needle length is
the measurement of the tip of the main needle alone. The shorter the single needle length, the less elasticity there will be.

6. Silicone Barrier

A silicone barrier is needed to prevent pigment leakage, but its purpose is not only hygienic. When it comes to traditional tattoo cartridges, the silicone barrier must be firm to prevent needle fluctuations when working at faster speeds. 

However, with PMU silicone barriers, this is not the case. PMU silicone barriers are often much softer to allow the
machine to work without disruption, even when set to slower speeds, but are still hard enough to stabilize the needle.

7. Grip

A grip is a feature that not many PMU cartridges have but can be extremely useful, especially for artists who hold their machine lower on the body while working. They need a place to rest their middle finger and a grip helps them gain more stability

Cartridge options without a featured grip are recommended for artists who hold their machine higher on the body.

8. Needle Configuration 

Needle configuration, or needle type, refers to how the needles are arranged or grouped within the cartridge. Different arrangements have dramatically different effects on the client’s skin. 

The standard PMU needle configurations are:

Single Needle Configurations

Just as the name says, a single-needle configuration features only one needle. 1RL or 1 Round Liner is the only single needle type that exists. 

Multiple-Needle Configurations

A cluster of more than one needle. These configurations can be either round or flat. 
  • Round needles are grouped in a circular arrangement. They can be round shaders or round liners. Liners are grouped more tightly together, while the shaders are grouped more loosely. 
  • Flat needles are grouped to form a straight line. Flat needles can be grouped according to their tip into a flat or curved configuration. 
  • They can also be divided according to the number of rows: if they feature one row of needles they are still considered flat, but if there are 2 rows or more, they are called magnum needles. 

Not Sure Which Cartridges Is Best For You? 

Try Our 25-Piece Sample Pack!

To accompany our universal PMU machines, we’ve also launched 25 different cartridges with different characteristics, to make sure you have the perfect supplies for every treatment in your toolkit. 

To help you find which ones suit your technique best, we’ve prepared a 25-Piece Sample Pack, so you can try each cartridge and see which ones you like. You get one of each, so test away and find your match for each treatment!
Cartridge Trial Set
Introducing Our Universal Cartridge Sample Set Discover the perfect match for your expertise and working style with our Universal Cartridge Sample Set, featuring 25 unique cartridges. Each piece in this set offers a different configuration, empowering PMU and tattoo artists to experiment and find the ideal fit for their specific techniques and styles. This diverse collection is an essential tool for exploring and enhancing your creative expression. All cartridges are made from medical grade 304 stainless steel and plastic, and are sterilized using ethylene oxide before packaging. For more information about the three main categories of cartridges in this set and the different variations included in the sample set, you can keep reading below. EN11 Gum Grip Universal Cartridges Enhanced Grip: Ergonomically designed with a silicone wrap and rubberized finger ledges for comfortable and stable holding. Optimal Precision: Made from 304 surgical stainless steel, these needles offer incredible sharpness for detailed work. The transparent tip enhances visibility. Safety: Features a safety membrane to reduce the risk of cross-contamination. Specifications: Configuration: Round Liner/RL Cartridge – Excellent for detailed work as well as subtle shading. Needle Diameter: 0.18mm/0.20mm – Allows for precise line work. Needle Tip: 1R/3R – Suitable for varying detailing needs. Taper Length: 3.5mm/7.0mm – For different sharpness and depth penetration into the skin. Included in the sample pack: 1 x EN11 0.18 1R, 3.5mm Taper 1 x EN11 0.18 3R, 3.5mm Taper 1 x EN11 0.20 1R, 3.5mm Taper EN02B Tattoo & PMU Universal Cartridge Clear Visuals: Transparent cartridges for better control and precision. Optimized Needle Tips: Sloped round and arced flat tips cater to diverse artistic needs. Safety: Equipped with a plastic membrane to prevent ink backflow. Specifications: Configuration: Round Liner/RL Cartridge and Flat/F Cartridge – Great for intricate, detailed work as well as shading broader areas. Needle Diameter: 0.18mm/ 0.20mm/0.25mm/0.30mm – Catering to different types of lines being created - both delicate and bolder effects. Needle Tip: 1R/3R/5R/5F/7F(curved flat7F) - for both lining and optimal shading. Taper Length: 3.5mm/5.5mm/7.0mm – Different tapers for varied ink delivery in different client skin types. Included in the sample pack: 1 x EN02B 0.18 1R, 3.5mm Taper 1 x EN02B 0.20 1R, 3.5mm Taper 1 x EN02B 0.25 1R, 5.5mm Taper 1 x EN02B 0.30 1R, 7mm Taper 1 x EN02B 0.30 1R, 5.5mm Taper 1 x EN02B 0.18 3R, 7mm Taper 1 x EN02B 0.30 3R, 5.5mm Taper 1 x EN02B 0.30 5R, 5.5mm Taper 1 x EN02B 0.18 5R, 5.5mm Taper 1 x EN02B 0.30 5F, 5.5mm Taper (normal flat)1 x EN02B 0.18 5F, 3.5mm Taper (normal flat)1 x EN02B 0.30 7F, 5.5mm Taper (curved flat)1 x EN02B 0.18 7F, 3.5mm Taper (curved flat) EN17 PMU Universal Cartridges Professional Design for PMU: Specifically tailored for Permanent Makeup applications. Transparent Tip: Allows for immediate adjustments and better control. Advanced Membrane System: Reduces noise and vibration, preventing backflow. Elongated Tip Profile: Improves visibility and minimizes ink leakage. Specifications: Configuration: Round Liner/RL Cartridge – Ideal for sharp, consistent lines. Needle Diameter: 0.18mm/ 0.20mm/0.25mm/0.30mm – Offers variations for delicate and detailed application, as well as different shading options. Needle Tips for Tattoos & PMU: 1R/3R/5R – Versatile for detailed to bolder lines. Taper Length: 3.5mm/5.5mm/7.0mm – Varies in sharpness and depth to suit different skin types and PMU styles. Included in the sample pack: 1 x EN17 0.18 1R, 3.5mm Taper 1 x EN17 0.20 1R, 3.5mm Taper 1 x EN17 0.25 1R, 5.5mm Taper 1 x EN17 0.30 1R, 7mm Taper 1 x EN17 0.30 1R, 5.5mm Taper 1 x EN17 0.18 3R, 7mm Taper 1 x EN17 0.30 3R, 5.5mm Taper 1 x EN17 0.30 5R, 5.5mm Taper 1 x EN17 0.18 5R, 5.5mm Taper

What’s the Difference Between PMU Cartridges & Traditional Tattoo Cartridges? 

Many artists often wonder whether they can use traditional tattoo cartridges for PMU. 

Although there are many similarities between PMU needle cartridges and traditional tattoo cartridges, one of the key differences is that
PMU needles are thinner and as such, intended for use on facial skin. A smaller diameter allows for the extra precision and accuracy needed in permanent makeup. PMU procedures often require artists to create much finer details across smaller areas of the skin, compared to larger traditional tattoos.

When choosing a Phi cartridge, the most important factors to consider are the needle diameter, taper, needle position, and configuration. Remember to base your needle choice on the client’s skin type and the intended procedure, as different tapers and configurations can lead to different results.

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