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High-Performance Blades Sharing ideas for getting the most out of our steel.

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  #1  
Old 08-05-2015, 06:42 PM
idf idf is offline
 
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Recommendations on a material for a hobby knife blade

Hey everyone,

I'm looking to develop a more durable and less brittle x-acto/hobby knife blade.

I'd appreciate your feedback on what metals you think are suitable for the purpose. Please keep in mind that the whole blade is .5mm thick, so there is not a lot of material to work with. It's possible to thicken it to .7 mm, but more than that would cause issues loading it into the collet.

The objective is to get a blade that doesn't bend easily, holds and edge and won't snap.

The other consideration is that Xacto blades are cheap... a better alternative can't cost 50x times the money, if you know what I mean.

What would you folks recommend to make a blade out of?

Thanks so much, great community
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  #2  
Old 08-05-2015, 07:33 PM
jmccustomknives jmccustomknives is offline
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L-6 would work real well. After that 15n20 would be cheaper. The nickel content of these steels will make for a much stronger blade than a simple carbon steel. Just remember, there is a trade off between strength and edge holding. Alloys like Chromium and nickel can help offset this but it will always be present. Since we don't know what steel the original blades are comparisons are difficult.
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  #3  
Old 08-05-2015, 07:39 PM
idf idf is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmccustomknives View Post
L-6 would work real well. After that 15n20 would be cheaper. The nickel content of these steels will make for a much stronger blade than a simple carbon steel. Just remember, there is a trade off between strength and edge holding. Alloys like Chromium and nickel can help offset this but it will always be present. Since we don't know what steel the original blades are comparisons are difficult.

Hey, thanks for the response. From what I understand, the typical steel in an xacto blade is #60 steel (maybe A515?)

I hope that helps refine the topic.
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  #4  
Old 08-05-2015, 07:50 PM
jmccustomknives jmccustomknives is offline
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I checked those steels, A515 is a medium carbon steel (.3% carbon) with a coarse grain structure. It would not be suitable for a blade in any way. I couldn't find anything definitive on the #60 steel. If I were to guess those blades were 1060-1090 carbon steel. They could be a cheap stainless. I haven't used one in years to remember if they rust. If they are stainless then just switching to carbon steel would be a plus.
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  #5  
Old 08-05-2015, 08:00 PM
idf idf is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmccustomknives View Post
I checked those steels, A515 is a medium carbon steel (.3% carbon) with a coarse grain structure. It would not be suitable for a blade in any way. I couldn't find anything definitive on the #60 steel. If I were to guess those blades were 1060-1090 carbon steel. They could be a cheap stainless. I haven't used one in years to remember if they rust. If they are stainless then just switching to carbon steel would be a plus.
I suppose the reason a steel like this is used is that it's cheap. Hobby knife blades are meant to be disposable. They're definitely carbon steel as they do corrode.

My intention is to develop a blade that will last, of course it's more expensive but it would dull, snap or lose shape much less often.

What makes L-6 and/or 15n20 suitable?

And are your thoughts of an alloy like tungsten or molybdenum, in the event that price was no object for this purpose? And can something like Maxamet be fitted to this purpose?
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  #6  
Old 08-05-2015, 08:29 PM
jmccustomknives jmccustomknives is offline
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Ok, here's your problem. When dealing with simple carbon steels the heat treat can be messy. If money wasn't a problem a D-series tool steel like D-2 would be excellent. The advantage these give in a production setting is they are air hardening.
Tungsten is an excellent alloy, but too much could make the blade brittle. Moly is a key alloy for the air hardening steels.
Your originally wanted a stronger material, as I stated there is a trade off between strength and edge holding.
Off all the steels I mentioned, L-6 would show a good balance between strength and edge holding. D-2 would roughly double the edge holding but would be more brittle.
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  #7  
Old 08-05-2015, 11:07 PM
idf idf is offline
 
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Originally Posted by jmccustomknives View Post
Ok, here's your problem. When dealing with simple carbon steels the heat treat can be messy. If money wasn't a problem a D-series tool steel like D-2 would be excellent. The advantage these give in a production setting is they are air hardening.
Tungsten is an excellent alloy, but too much could make the blade brittle. Moly is a key alloy for the air hardening steels.
Your originally wanted a stronger material, as I stated there is a trade off between strength and edge holding.
Off all the steels I mentioned, L-6 would show a good balance between strength and edge holding. D-2 would roughly double the edge holding but would be more brittle.
Thanks again. I did some reading up on L-6. I see what you mean, it's properties line up. D-2 also seems to have nice properties, but these blades are so thin that I'd want a strong resistance to permanent bends and snapping, so in this instance I'd lean towards L-6.

So do you know much about Maxamet? How would it rate against the L-6 / D-2 alternatives?
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  #8  
Old 08-05-2015, 11:39 PM
Doug Lester Doug Lester is offline
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One thing to take into account is just the blade design. They will be thin to fit the collet but they will also have to be hard to hold and edge and increasing strength to resist bending. However, being hard will also make them more brittle and less tough. Also have you given consideration to what it will take to cut and grind these small blades? Do you have the ability to safely hold them as they are being ground and heat treated? Maybe you might want to make something like an old fashioned scalpel with a fixed blade on a handle. It would use increased thickness to increase the strength of the blade.

Doug


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  #9  
Old 08-06-2015, 05:27 AM
jmccustomknives jmccustomknives is offline
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Maxamet is a powdered steel. It's got a pretty wild alloy. It would be very expensive, even compaired to D-2 I think. Heat treat would also be expensive. It would do well, I would guess (and it's just a guess) it would see another 50% edge holding over D-2 at the same hardness. Though as stated before, it wouldn't be as strong. The particle steel technology in this alloy makes up for some of the strength loss. Since I've never played with this steel alloy I'm only speaking from a theoretical level.
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  #10  
Old 08-06-2015, 07:05 AM
idf idf is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug Lester View Post
One thing to take into account is just the blade design. They will be thin to fit the collet but they will also have to be hard to hold and edge and increasing strength to resist bending. However, being hard will also make them more brittle and less tough. Also have you given consideration to what it will take to cut and grind these small blades? Do you have the ability to safely hold them as they are being ground and heat treated? Maybe you might want to make something like an old fashioned scalpel with a fixed blade on a handle. It would use increased thickness to increase the strength of the blade.

Doug
Just to clarify, I wouldn't make these by hand myself. It would be impossible to be cost effective that way. In terms of size and thickness, the hobby knife shape is ubiquitous, so I want to be part of the standardized size market for them. Increasing the thickness slightly is a viable alternative, but I couldn't go much beyond that.


Quote:
Originally Posted by jmccustomknives View Post
Maxamet is a powdered steel. It's got a pretty wild alloy. It would be very expensive, even compaired to D-2 I think. Heat treat would also be expensive. It would do well, I would guess (and it's just a guess) it would see another 50% edge holding over D-2 at the same hardness. Though as stated before, it wouldn't be as strong. The particle steel technology in this alloy makes up for some of the strength loss. Since I've never played with this steel alloy I'm only speaking from a theoretical level.

Yes, I see. So we're back to it being more brittle. This stuff is a real tug-o-war!
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  #11  
Old 08-06-2015, 11:54 AM
Doug Lester Doug Lester is offline
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Yep, you're starting to see the problem. Everything about blade design is a trade-off of steel choice, heat treatment, grind, thickness and who knows what else.

Doug


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  #12  
Old 08-06-2015, 04:55 PM
jmccustomknives jmccustomknives is offline
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When it comes to that "balance" you usually end up at D-2.
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  #13  
Old 08-10-2015, 06:39 PM
idf idf is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmccustomknives View Post
When it comes to that "balance" you usually end up at D-2.
Thanks.

If I may transition slightly from the original post's topic?

Would the group here feel the same way about L-6 and D-2 if I was talking about a pair of scissors for cutting fabric?
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  #14  
Old 09-06-2015, 07:16 AM
idf idf is offline
 
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Hey everyone,

The help as been much appreciated thus far.

The factory is giving me a lot of push back on making D2 steel samples of xacto blades. They are saying it's too soft.

They are trying to push me into using SK-5 instead. What do you guys think?
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  #15  
Old 11-22-2016, 01:15 AM
machinedock machinedock is offline
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Everything about blade design is a trade-off of steel choice, heat treatment, grind, thickness and who knows what else.
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