Friday, March 2, 2012

Trace Element Sharpie

One of my most perverse office supply obsessions is the standard Sharpie. If I visit somebody's house or apartment and they don't have any Sharpies I make sure that they receive a gift of Sharpies within a few months. Nothing fancy, just the standard fine tip black Sharpie marker that is readily available for around a dollar.

So it will come as no surprise to you that I took note when Sanford released pens and then liquid pencils under the Sharpie brand name. The other day I noticed that Sharpie is now selling a "Trace Element Certified Marker" and I had to figure out what this new kind of sharpie was. At roughly four times the price of a standard Sharpie the description says that it is great for nuclear energy and aerospace. If anybody says a product is ideal for nukes and astronauts alike I sit up and take notice.

You might be asking yourself, do I need a Trace Element Ink Certified Marker? Well if you have to ask yourself the answer is probably no. The only reason you'll ever need one of these markers is if you'd want to prove without a doubt that something written with this marker was written by the person who says they wrote it.

Here's how it works. The marker's ink contains a very specific chloride signature that only a few other markers in the world contain. Each marker comes with paper work identifying which chloride signature it contains. So if you ever have a question about who wrote something using one of these markers, you can just haul your sample to a laser ablation machine and have it analyzed. If the trace elements of chloride in the sample detected by the machine match the paper work you'll have an excellent idea exactly who wrote it and when it was written.

I'm not an expert in the subject but my quick googling makes it look like Rolls Royce and General Electric both require their technicians to use ink with easily identifiable trace elements when performing work. Does your profession require you to use trace element certified ink? Leave a comment below and let us know.