Knives of Alaska Introduces DiamondBlade LLC and Friction Forged® "Super Blades"
Knives of Alaska Press Release
Tejon Ranch, California, USA - May 8, 2007: Knives of Alaska President, Charles E. Allen announced the formation of DiamondBlade LLC to manufacture extreme performance Friction Forged® "Super Blades." More than a dozen leading outdoor writers attended the initial product launch, held at the famed Tejon Ranch in California. This location was chosen because it provided an opportunity for the invitees to use one of these new "Super Blades" under actual field conditions - pursuit and field-dressing wild boar.
Research efforts, spanning the past decade, by Brigham Young University metallurgist and materials experts, Drs. Tracy Nelson and Carl Sorensen, with Friction Stir Processing (FSP) hard metals, laid the foundation for the new generation of Friction Forged® blades. According to Dr. Nelson, DiamondBlade's Friction Forged® blades are "probably the biggest legitimate improvement in the knife industry in over 40 years."
Drs. Nelson and Sorensen define a "Super Blade" as a knife blade that starts out sharper and stays sharp longer. Next the blade will have an extremely fine grain structure to offer enhanced resistance to abrasion (dulling). Additionally, the blade edge will withstand chemical erosion (rusting) even from strong acids and salt water. Finally, the blade will be differentially hardened, so that it withstands impact and structural stresses.
Extreme performance, Friction Forged® blades were conceived by Allen and Hobie Smith of Smith International in 2003, when formal blade and materials research efforts were begun. "Tests for evaluating blade performance characteristics were conducted using a CATRA (Cutlery Allied Trade Research Association) Razor Edge Sharpness Tester. Impact and edge strength, wear and abrasion, were also evaluated using machines designed specifically for those purposes. Edge resistance to corrosion was studied by coating the edge with 100 Nitric acid and immersion in salt water for several days. American Bladesmith Society's standards for their Journeyman knife forging test were also used," said Charles Allen. "Our goal was to construct a blade with a super sharp, long-lasting, corrosion proof edge that also had an extremely tough spine which makes breakage difficult. Simply put, we wanted to produce high performance blades that are superior to anything on the market."
Blade performance was described as "just unbelievable," by Durwood Hollis, a columnist for Tactical Knives and a regular contributor to Blade Magazine, after observing the laboratory and field tests first hand. "As a life-long hunter, I used literally hundreds of knives made from a wide range of materials, including all of the so-called "Premium Steels," and the Friction Forged® process develops an incredibly sharp, long-lasting cutting edge unlike any that I have ever seen or used," Hollis said. After using a Friction Forged® blade to field dress and skin several wild pigs, an animal with wire-like hair and grit-encrusted hide, Hollis was amazed that the blade would still shave hair like a razor. The performance characteristics of the Friction Forged® blade were truly revolutionary," Hollis added.
"Objective test results with hands-free equipment confirmed that the Friction Forged® blade edge lasts about 10 times longer than a standard (best processed) D2 steel blade," said. The key to the blade's extremely sharp and long-lasting edge characteristics result from the very fine, hard grain structures created within the steel by controlled frictional heat and extreme forging pressures. The Patented process exerts tons of downward force on the blade edge by means of a rotating Polycrystalline Cubic Boron Nitride (PCBN) tool, which creates frictional heating that "plasticizes" the D2 tool steel and then induces rapid quenching (cooling) temperatures.
Friction Forging®, through dynamic molecular shearing, "creates steel grain structure so fine, that it can only be seen with the aid of a Scanning Electron Microscope at 80,000 magnification," said Dr. Sorensen with BYU's Mechanical Engineering Department. "Normally, heat-treated and tempered blade steel grain structure can easily be seen with a standard 1,000 power microscope, but after undergoing the Friction Forging® process, the grain structures cannot be seen unless an electron microscope is employed." Sorensen went on to say.
Dr Tracy Nelson added, "Another benefit of the Friction Forging® process is the creation of a stainless edge zone that resists rust and even acid etching. D2 tool steel is high carbon steel containing enough Chromium to be stain resistant, but it is not classified as stainless steel. As the PCBN tool's frictional heat and pressure stirs and plasticizes the D2 steel, the Carbon, Chromium, Molybdenum, Vanadium and other elements within the steel go into solution. When the rapid quench occurs, some chromium is "frozen" out of solution, before it can all reform into Chromium carbides, thereby creating an observable stainless zone that is a trademark and proof that the blade has been Friction Forged®," Nelson said. Obviously, fine steel grain structure, a corrosion-resistant edge zone, higher edge hardness (65-68 measured on a Rockwell "C" scale) and differentially tempered (softer) blade spine are the keys to superior blade performance.
Chuck Karwan, a former U. S. Army Special Forces officer and West Point graduate, who has used all manner of knives for both combat and hunting, and who now writes for Tactical Knives and other publications, was stunned by a cutting performance demonstration he observed. "We tested the Friction Forged® blade performance by cutting through a 1/2" inch manila rope over 300 times. Amazingly, after all of that, the blade would still shave hair-easily!
We also tested the toughness of the blade, as well as the sharpness by chopping completely through a 2"x 4" board twice, then cutting through a free hanging rope multiple times with one swipe. Once again, the blade still shaved hair like a razor," Karwan said.
According to Karwan, the most "unbelievable" part of the Friction Forged® blade test came next. Many of the very best custom-made knives, as well as hand-forged Japanese swords employ a technique known as differential hardening." This results in a blade with a very hard, long-last cutting edge and a flexible spine that is very tough and somewhat flexible. With the correct geometry, such blades are virtually impossible to break, even when bent to 90-degrees. Knife blades that exhibit these characteristics are historically handmade, rare and extremely difficult to produce.
The "unbelievable" part of the Friction Forged® testing process that Karwan referred to occurred when after all of the cutting and chopping tests, he watched Master Bladesmith Wayne Goddard place the blade in a vice and bend it to 115-degrees without any evidence of cracking or edge failure. "This, as well as all the other tests, was undeniable proofs of blade strength and performance never before available at any price," said Karwan.
DiamondBlade is initially offering four different Friction Forged® blade styles, which will be referred to as their "Signature Series." Hobie Smith, VP, Smith International, Inc signs the "Pinnacle I" knife certificate. Charles Allen, DiamondBlade's founder, designed and signs the Pinnacle II and Summit certificates. The Goddard Traditional Hunter was designed and is signed by Wayne Goddard, Master Blade Smith and author of the book, "The Wonder of Knifemaking."
All of the knives are serial numbered, housed in a presentation box with an oiled leather sheath, and come with the signed Certificate of Authenticity. Standard handle scales are genuine Stag or Presentation Grade Desert Ironwood, Olive Drab G-10 is available by special order. Prices are $329.99 for the Pinnacle I, $369.99 for the Pinnacle II, $389.99 for the Wayne Goddard Traditional Hunter and $399.99 for the Summit.
At this time, DiamondBlade Friction Forged® knives are available only through factory- direct orders. For more information, see the DiamondBlade web site: www.diamondbladeknives.com (coming soon).
Copyright 2007 by Knives of Alaska. All rights reserved.