Shortly after I wrote about Microbrushes, the manufacturer, Microbrush International contacted me about reviewing their Micro Stix Adhesive Tip Applicators. Never one to turn down an opportunity to try something new, I said sure, send some right over. They’ve been sitting around for a couple of months, patiently waiting for me to have some spare time to play around with them. So guess what I did today?
What are Micro Stix?
According to the package Micro Stix are used to “hold and place small items” when doing such things as working with miniatures, scrapbooking, jewelry making, and handling small parts. I thought they’d be great for anyone working with placing crystals and immediately thought of some brass components I have. They have depressions for holding crystals but I was never able to do it with my fat fingers. Tweezers were an exercise in frustration, so I looked forward to trying these Micro Stix.
Micro Stix come in a package of 16 sticks in either “quick release” or “strong hold”. The sticks each have a glob of clear adhesive which resembles that clear gummy glue that’s used to glue samples into magazines (it’s nothing like it, though). The adhesive is “pressure sensitive” which means that it sticks tighter the more pressure you use. The instructions state that you are to pick something up, place it where you want, and twist the stick to release it.
The packaging is brilliant. You can take out one stick as needed and close the rest up securely, keeping the package dust free. It closes securely so you can stick these in a drawer or hang on a hook in your workshop and not have packaging hanging open.
Using Micro Stix
I was surprised at how stiff the adhesive is. It’s very tacky and easily picked up the crystals. The crystals did not fall off. I tried to place the crystal down by following their “Pick, Place, & Twist” directions. Well, that only works if the surface you’re putting the item down on has more of a hold on the item than the stick does. I then held the Micro Stix with a crystal on it and globbed some E6000 glue onto the back of the crystal. It was really great having that control over the crystal. Much improved over using my fingers! But when I placed the crystal into the brass component, I couldn’t get the Micro Stix to let go of the crystal! I used tweezers to pull off the crystal and put it into the component.
Okay, there’s gotta be a learning curve. And there is. The second one went better because I used very light pressure on the Micro Stix. And then I realized that I was holding the stick wrong. You have to twist to release and I was holding it like a pencil. Okay, change my grip, twist. It still wouldn’t let go of the crystal and I had to use tweezers. So I switched to a different, stickier glue. That went better. But still not perfect. You still have to have something to push the crystal off the end of the stick as you are twisting. Or hold the crystal down. So if you were putting items into a deep glue or pressing into a sticky mat of some sort of some contact cement, then these things are primo. In fact, they are mostly used for the dental industry and this is exactly what I would want to use when placing a crown into someone’s mouth. But a crystal into a component? Not so much.
I was curious about the adhesive. It does sort of “get dirty” as it’s used. Was this like those sticky floor cleaners and cat fur removers which can be renewed by a quick rinse in the sink? Nope. Rinsing the Micro Stix just got it wet. And it seems that these sticks are really sticky for a while and then they get unsticky pretty fast as they pick up debris (like glue or from my skin when I messed with it). They are disposable, of course, so this is expected. And you get a lot of life out of one stick, certainly. Sticks that have started to lose some of their sticky power would perhaps be better for holding crystals maybe?
Another thing, the sticks themselves have a bendable neck, allowing you to hold things at an angle so you can easily place something into a tight area with poor access.
These sticks won’t work so well if the item you’re picking up is greasy. Some of my stone beads must be waxed or oily because the adhesive would not stick to them at all.
These Micro Stix would be an absolute boon to anyone working with model railroading, war game models, fantasy sculpting. They worked exactly as promised. They didn’t work well for my crystals, and that’s good to know, but it’s not due to a failure of the product.
How Much Will they Hold?
The quick release sticks, when first out of the package, could hold a large bead with ease. The strong hold Micro Stix were actually mighty impressive. I could easily pick up and carry my X-acto knife or my glasses. My first thought when I tried this was that Micro Stix would be really great for picking up things that have fallen into places you can’t reach. And I will certainly keep them in mind for that.
I figured out that “pressure sensitive adhesive” just means that the harder you push, the more of the adhesive is attached to the item you’re holding and therefore the stronger the attachment will be. If you very lightly touch the object, it will be held by the tiniest point, like you see in the picture of the crystal, above. But if you push hard on the stick, the adhesive mushes down and attaches to a large area as you see in the picture below.
The adhesive is quite stretchy, too. Here’s what happened when I tried to pick up a glass bottle.
In searching for more information on this product I found that there are several similar items on the market. They all seem to be variations on the idea of sticky wax on a stick. A huge advantage of this product is that the adhesive leaves absolutely no residue like wax can do. For beading or scrapbooking that would be very important. This product is also very strong.
Where to Buy
Micro Stix are readily available in bulk from dental suppliers. But for the average hobbyist, I’m not finding many sources. I did find them for sale at Tower Hobbies for $9.69 for a package of 16. There was an auction on ebay for a similar price as well. Sears also appears to be selling them, but whoa, not a good price at $17.52. A reader, Eva, has told me that these are available in Germany, too. These are a fairly new product from what I can see and we can hope they will be more readily available in the future.
Disclaimer: Even though it’s already in my Terms and Conditions, just to be clear, I received this product for free from the manufacturer for the purpose of a review. I used it, I wrote about it, and the opinions are mine. I have a lot of opinions and I can’t be bought that easily. Well…maybe if I were to start reviewing single malt scotch? Try me!