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The modeling of forces during needle insertion into soft tissue is important for accurate surgical simulation, preoperative planning, and intelligent robotic assistance for percutaneous therapies. We present a force model for needle insertion and experimental procedures for acquiring data from ex vivo tissue to populate that model. Data were collected from bovine livers using a one-degree-of-freedom robot equipped with a load cell and needle attachment. computed tomography imaging was used to segment the needle insertion process into phases identifying different relative velocities between the needle and tissue. The data were measured and modeled in three parts: 1) capsule stiffness, a nonlinear spring model; 2) friction, a modified Karnopp model; and 3) cutting, a constant for a given tissue. In addition, we characterized the effects of needle diameter and tip type on insertion force using a silicone rubber phantom. In comparison to triangular and diamond tips, a bevel tip causes more needle bending and is more easily affected by tissue density variations. Forces for larger diameter needles are higher due to increased cutting and friction forces.