Important knife steel factors
Three important factors must be considered in the production of a good knife steel:
- Chemical composition (alloying elements)
- Purity (no inclusions or trace elements, such as lead and mercury)
- Microstructure (homogeneous, with the required carbide structure)
The correct ingredients in the melt and the right tolerances in the alloying element content provide the best base for good knife steel. The most important alloying elements in Sandvik knife steels are carbon (C), chromium (Cr) and molybdenum (Mo). The quantities of alloying elements affect properties such as hardness and corrosion resistance, and close composition tolerances make the material predictable and easy to use.
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Impurities may occur in several forms. One type is slag inclusions that have an adverse effect on toughness and corrosion resistance, since inclusions give rise to 'weak points' in the material. Undesirable and unhealthy metals such as lead (Pb), mercury (Hg) and cadmium (Cd) represent another type of impurity.
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What distinguishes Sandvik knife steels from their competitors is the fine carbide size distribution and the absence of large primary carbides. This ensures high toughness and an edge that remains sharp longer but is still easy to sharpen. A fine carbide structure also allows for keen edges for optimum cutting performance, such as on a razor blades and professional knives for butchers and fishermen.
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