By Wil Dubois Email this
Amazing d-Tech isn’t limited to lights, bells, and computers. Amazing technology is tackling even the most humble of diabetes devices: the needle. And the charge into the future is being lead by one of the world’s oldest needle companies. Becton, Dickinson and Company, known fondly as BD, made the needle used for the world’s first insulin shot 90 years ago. Since then, BD has been a big player in all things sharp, and as the size of their market has grown, the size of their product has shrunk. BD has brought us ever shorter and shorter, and thinner and thinner needles for injectable diabetes meds.
Their new King of Tiny is the BD Nano pen needle. It clocks in at just 4mm long. That’s a hair over an eighth of an inch. In fact, three thin dimes stacked on top of each other are taller than this needle is long. It’s so short even skinny folks don’t have to “pinch up” to inject.
But what really amazes me is the diameter. Needle diameters are measured in “gauge.” The smaller the gauge number, the larger the needle. You should fear an 18 gauge needle. On the other hand, most flu shots are given with 23 gauge needles. For a while now, most disposable insulin syringes have been equipped with 28 gauge needles.
The Nano, well named, has an unbelievably thin 32 gauge diameter. That’s 0.00925 of an inch. About twice the diameter of a human eyelash.
How on earth do they make these things?
With Amazing d-Tech, that’s how. The pen needles start out as flat sheets of surgical steel, rolled into tubes. That alone blows my mind. But it’s just the beginning. Each needle is then bevel cut. BD recently pioneered what they call the “PentaPoint” needle tip, five cuts to shape the tip of the needle, rather than the typical three cuts. It’s like whittling a wood stick: the more cuts you make, the sharper the point. The two extra bevels make for a flatter, thinner, sculpted tip that injects more smoothly. In fact, BD did bench testing to measure the amount of force needed for pen needles to puncture skin and found the five-bevel tip actually reduced the force needed by 23%. And they’re doing this to a hollow tube only twice the diameter of an eyelash? They must be crazy. Thank goodness.
But wait. That’s not all. BD isn’t done yet. After shaping, every pen needle is polished to make sure that there aren’t any microscopic burrs that might tear skin. Then the needles are coated with a micro-bonded lubrication, like no-stick pans. Does all this make a difference? You bettcha. I’ve poked myself everywhere on my body (well, OK, not there), and I can personally attest to the fact the Nano is pain-free.
That’s Amazing. I guess the angels aren’t dancing on pin heads anymore. They’re carving the tips of needles instead.