We heard this as well and conducted extensive testing. The result was that our needles were not dull, but lacked silicone based “needle lubricant”. We evaluated other supplier needles, piercing needles, etc. however we found that the only significant difference between our needles and biohax needles were the application of lubricant. The length, angle, and overall quality of the cuts made to the steel tubes used to create the needle bevels were, for all intents and purposes, identical. When we tested insertion forces for various needles on a silicone based suture training pad, the force was also nearly identical.
The big difference came when inserting into real human skin, particularly skin that was thoroughly cleaned and prepped prior to injection (so, all installs). In fact, the skin prep used and style of prep made a big difference to needle insertion force. To help illustrate why this might be, let’s look at a typical needle bevel;
Parts 2 and 3 are the actual cutting edges that perform the incision. Part 1 is typically not a cutting edge, and simply pushes it’s way into the incision in the skin. This is where the problem typically occurs. In all reported cases, it is “getting over this hump” which is difficult and requires much more force. The cutting edges (2 and 3) had no trouble at all getting under the skin, therefore the needle’s “sharpness” is not the issue.
As I mentioned above, the issue is made worse through the combination of using a dry, unlubricated needle with skin that has been prepped with an alcohol based antiseptic. This is because alcohol draws away water and skin oils, and combined with the scrubbing action of the prep process, leaves the surface of the skin very dry and “tacky” to the touch (gloved touch). This “tacky” skin surface is then expected to accomodate a non-cutting bevel edge (part 1 of the needle), and this is where the force required to get past this part can be very high. Once in, the needle should have a slightly better time, however still being a dry steel tube pushing its way past skin that is now also extremely dry and devoid of any oils… it’s not a great experience.
The inventory we have is almost all dry, however good news… we are working through this inventory and all new kits will use lubricated needles. The xM1+ that was recently re-introduced to the market does have lubricant applied to the needle. This is likely why @JennyMcLane reports no issues installing it, even though the needle is significantly larger than the typical x-series. I personally installed an xM1+ from the original run, and it was what I would categorize as “extremely difficult”, so I know first hand how difficult an unlubricated xM1+ needle install can be.
The good news is, most piercers have their own needle lubricant or at least know about it. Many piercing needles come “coated” (lubricated) so they don’t require separate lube to be applied, but if you have any doubts you can ask that the professional apply needle lube to the xM1+ needle during installation.