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L. Clayton Parker




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PostPosted: Tue 30 Jun, 2009 1:36 pm    Post subject: Damascus Steel and recent research         Reply with quote

I have long been entranced by the fabled Damascus steel and while I am neither a smith nor a metallurgist I read everything I can get my hands on that relates to it. From various sources I understand that the secret to true Damascus is in fact nano-technology. There are evidently carbon nanotubes embedded in the steel that help to explain its fabled strength. What is not known is the origin of this carbon. Some speculate that it was part of the original iron, the Wootz and was wholly natural, others say it could have been some process, now lost, in the production of the steel.

Then earlier this week I came across this article http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/09/06/28/2...en-Storage on slashdot. It seems that carbonizing chicken feathers produces a carbon nanotube that would fill the role quite nicely. Now like I said, I am no expert, just curious. So what do you all think? Could this be done? And how?
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Tue 30 Jun, 2009 3:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There have been several researchers who looked at actual mechanical properties. You can compare the micro structure of the grain to "nano tubes", but it is really a case of unstable precipitation of hard carbides. These corrode unevenly at the cutting edge, and make the blade perform like a micro serrated saw. Mechanical tests of modern replica efforts of wootz and exquisite pattern welding, Russian bullat, ect, have yet to yield overall properties much better than 60 to 70% of plain carbon spring steel (SAI 1075 through 1090.) That said, I am still a fan of the materials as one who uses them regularly for their slicing performance.

My latest knife made for me by a local maker from my own material...attached.



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Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Bruno Giordan





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PostPosted: Tue 30 Jun, 2009 11:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Just look at this research by dr. Mader

http://www.schwertbruecken.de/english/starte.htm

Damascofusion and nanowires
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L. Clayton Parker




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PostPosted: Wed 01 Jul, 2009 6:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bruno Giordan wrote:
Just look at this research by dr. Mader

http://www.schwertbruecken.de/english/starte.htm

Damascofusion and nanowires


An excellent piece of information. I had not considered that the "alleged" study had only tested one sword. Nevertheless, I am still curious as to whether the intentional addition of carbon nano-tubes to modern steels would have any noticeable effect, be they from chicken feathers or some less mundane source.

They all hold swords, being expert in war: every man hath his sword upon his thigh, because of fear in the night. -The Song of Songs, Which Is Solomon's
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Vincent Le Chevalier




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PostPosted: Wed 01 Jul, 2009 7:05 am    Post subject: Re: Damascus Steel and recent research         Reply with quote

L. Clayton Parker wrote:
Then earlier this week I came across this article http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/09/06/28/2...en-Storage on slashdot. It seems that carbonizing chicken feathers produces a carbon nanotube that would fill the role quite nicely.

Wait, the article does not say that burnt feathers produce carbon nanotubes, it says that this material would hold as much hydrogen as nanotubes do... Not the same thing.

Also, remember that having nano-anything in your research topics is a good way to attract funding, and possibly an even better way to attract publicity in the media Happy

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Vincent
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Bruno Giordan





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PostPosted: Wed 01 Jul, 2009 9:58 am    Post subject: Re: Damascus Steel and recent research         Reply with quote

Vincent Le Chevalier wrote:
L. Clayton Parker wrote:
Then earlier this week I came across this article http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/09/06/28/2...en-Storage on slashdot. It seems that carbonizing chicken feathers produces a carbon nanotube that would fill the role quite nicely.

Wait, the article does not say that burnt feathers produce carbon nanotubes, it says that this material would hold as much hydrogen as nanotubes do... Not the same thing.

Also, remember that having nano-anything in your research topics is a good way to attract funding, and possibly an even better way to attract publicity in the media Happy


Same point as Mader's ..
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Steven H




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PostPosted: Wed 01 Jul, 2009 1:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Also, have non-Damascus blades been tested for nanotubes? I haven't seen anything to indicate that.

And campfires produce nanotubes. Not in a useful manner but certainly detectable.

So more work would be needed to demonstrate that these tubes are unique and/or contribute to the swords properties.

Cheers,
Steven

Kunstbruder - Boston area Historical Combat Study
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James R.Fox




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PostPosted: Wed 01 Jul, 2009 2:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sirs- Since damascus steel was discovered by the Han Chinese,Who had been using blast furnaces since c. 800bce to work bronze, who had discovered the Seimans-Martin process and puddling by c.150 bce, who could pour three ton pours by c.100 bce and had armed their Whole Army with wootz steel weapons and arnour, by which they conquered all of Asia up to Iran,I think we got sone academic B,S, (not even a masters) by somebody fishing for a grant. After all, Dr Anne Fuerbach over on Ethnographic Arms and Armour got one, and she thinks wootz was invented in southern India or centrsl Asia (Bulat) My citatons are listed under Ferrous Metalurgy in Han China. (sorry, being thchno-stupid, I can't make this page show the relavent links. You'll just have to trustt me or fish 'em out by the title of the page.)
Ja68ms
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Wed 01 Jul, 2009 3:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

James R.Fox wrote:
Sirs- Since damascus steel was discovered by the Han Chinese,Who had been using blast furnaces since c. 800bce to .......


The Chinese have a reputation for claiming invention of everything, but withholding artifacts and archeological sites from independent requests for examination. If there are actual independent tests (radiographic examination, mechanical toughness, chemical composition, etc.) conducted by independent sources showing the Chinese to have indeed invented spring steel, wootz, and high performance pattern welded specimens centuries before everyone else, please present them.

They certainly did have very good technology for refining, casting iron and making malleable iron by all accounts. What I am aware of in 200 B.C. through several centuries later were folded multi layer IRON sword artifacts. Some of these "could exhibit" the cosmetic patterns of premium pattern welded specimens. However, I would not assume that entire armies were equipped with weapons made of materials rivaling more modern super alloys.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Kjell Magnusson




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PostPosted: Tue 07 Jul, 2009 12:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

James R.Fox wrote:
My citatons are listed under Ferrous Metalurgy in Han China. (sorry, being thchno-stupid, I can't make this page show the relavent links. You'll just have to trustt me or fish 'em out by the title of the page.)


Is this the page in question?

http://www.staff.hum.ku.dk/dbwagner/EncIt/EncIt.html
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Jeroen Zuiderwijk
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PostPosted: Tue 07 Jul, 2009 1:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

James R.Fox wrote:
Sirs- Since damascus steel was discovered by the Han Chinese,Who had been using blast furnaces since c. 800bce to work bronze, who had discovered the Seimans-Martin process and puddling by c.150 bce, who could pour three ton pours by c.100 bce and had armed their Whole Army with wootz steel weapons and arnour, by which they conquered all of Asia up to Iran
How easy it is to make so many errors about the development of the iron industry in one sentence Happy The development of the steel making industry is very complex, so be careful with what you read, as very few writers have sufficient metalurgical knowledge to even understand all of the processes fully themselves (including the main experts on the subject).

The big scale iron casting facilities in China were making pig iron, to be used in casting iron ware such as pots etc., not to produce steel (at least not directly). They definately weren't casting wootz. I don't know everything about the Chinese iron industry, but so far I've not seen any evidence that they were producing wootz or any form of crucible steel up to the first centuries AD at least. Also mind that wootz is a crucible steel, but one of many many types of crucible steel. Nearly all modern made steel is crucible steel, none of it is wootz (aside from a few mad individuals that is Happy ) The Chinese were at first making bloomery steel during the Warring States period. At the end of the Warring States period, and through most of the Han dynasty, steel was made by forging pig iron. By oxidizing the pig iron during forging (thus in solid state), the carbon was burned off though the surface of the metal, resulting steel with low enough carbon to make weapons. This is the so-called "bai lian gang", or "steel forged a hundred times". The first evidence I know of the use of puddling (at least that's what I understand the process is, correct me if I'm wrong) to reduce the carbon contents (oxidizing pig iron in liquid state) to make steel for swords is from the 1st-2nd century AD. This is the so-called "chao gang", or "stir-fried steel". This is nothing like wootz, it's much more similar to bloomery steel. If this is the puddling process, as I think, then this steel is forged and folded many times to remove the slag just like bloomery steel, producing a very similar result. There's probably still many gaps in my knowledge, and probably there's also many more intermediate steps in the development that I don't yet know off. But that's the beauty of early steel making history, as you can keep on studying for a long time, and never completely know the whole picture Happy

Jeroen Zuiderwijk
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Nicholas Antaya




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PostPosted: Sat 13 Apr, 2013 6:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

im no metalurgist or anything but i just thought what if the steel used to create damascus weapons was formed in long ingots at lest 2 feet long for say in sheets of it say as thin as modern day aluminum foil. into ingot holders with small "valleys"etched into it and then they would continue to make these "sheets of steel" then after they had plenty they would layer them and heat them to a temperature where the atomic bonding prosses is possible but NOT HOT enough to totally melt the metal sheets closing off the the small tubes and indentations made in the steel during the foundry process. But enough to constrict the tubes make a long metal ingot that they would procede to make a sword or other from. Im not any blacksmith or such but if someone could find a way to attempt this and see if its possible. if it works im preety sure it would be a great help to many blacksmiths out there. feel free to take this as your own idea.
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Glen A Cleeton




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PostPosted: Sun 14 Apr, 2013 11:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nicholas Antaya wrote:
im no metalurgist or anything but i just thought what if the steel used to create damascus weapons was formed in long ingots at lest 2 feet long for say in sheets of it say as thin as modern day aluminum foil. into ingot holders with small "valleys"etched into it and then they would continue to make these "sheets of steel" then after they had plenty they would layer them and heat them to a temperature where the atomic bonding prosses is possible but NOT HOT enough to totally melt the metal sheets closing off the the small tubes and indentations made in the steel during the foundry process. But enough to constrict the tubes make a long metal ingot that they would procede to make a sword or other from. Im not any blacksmith or such but if someone could find a way to attempt this and see if its possible. if it works im preety sure it would be a great help to many blacksmiths out there. feel free to take this as your own idea.


Early crucible blades were forged from "cakes" and not long strips of ingots. Pattern welded swords, such as one might find in viking type swords were made with rods twisted together and then more steel welded on for the edges.

Nano tubes are a buzz word that doesn't relate well to how the blades for the indo-persian swords and knives were forged. The "tubes" are formed in the crucible/pot when the components are baked at high heat for a long time.


Cheers

GC
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Sun 14 Apr, 2013 2:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Glen A Cleeton wrote:

Nano tubes are a buzz word that doesn't relate well to how the blades for the indo-persian swords and knives were forged. The "tubes" are formed in the crucible/pot when the components are baked at high heat for a long time.


Buzzword for sure. AFAIK, the nanotubes (and graphite flakes, and fullerenes/buckyballs) result from the very high carbon content. About 1.2-1.5% is usual, and this results in carbon precipitating out of solution as the steel cools. Cool at the wrong rate with no working as it cools, and you get large flakes and large networks of carbides (cementite, mostly). Cool slowly while working it, and you get small carbon/carbide inclusions.

Consider that candle flames make nanotubes, and there is no baking at high temperature for a long time, just lots of carbon and high temperatures for a short time.

IMO, the hype about nanotubes is just hype. The reality is that nanotubes (and fullerenes, and small carbide balls) don't harm the mechanical properties in the same way that large graphite flakes do (i.e., "why is cast iron brittle?").

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Michael Pikula
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PostPosted: Sun 14 Apr, 2013 3:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nicholas Antaya wrote:
im no metalurgist or anything but i just thought what if the steel used to create damascus weapons was formed in long ingots at lest 2 feet long for say in sheets of it say as thin as modern day aluminum foil. into ingot holders with small "valleys"etched into it and then they would continue to make these "sheets of steel" then after they had plenty they would layer them and heat them to a temperature where the atomic bonding prosses is possible but NOT HOT enough to totally melt the metal sheets closing off the the small tubes and indentations made in the steel during the foundry process. But enough to constrict the tubes make a long metal ingot that they would procede to make a sword or other from. Im not any blacksmith or such but if someone could find a way to attempt this and see if its possible. if it works im preety sure it would be a great help to many blacksmiths out there. feel free to take this as your own idea.


What exactly would you be trying to accomplish with this process?

What kind of performance are you trying to wield?

What is the purpose of such a weapon?

How much will developing this type of process cost?

How much do you think that the successful implementation of this type of technology will cost?

How many piece at what cost would have to be produced before you suspect one would reach the break even point?

Where are you going to find a market for this?

While complicated in some sense, the sword is fairly simple and there is no need to develop some ultra high-tech steel, or process, to use in an object that is essentially obsolete in the sense of its original purpose. I enjoy reading and studying about the sword, but today there is simply no need for this type of research and expenditure of resources. The most high-tech processes that swordsmiths should be looking at is how to create their own steel based on the historical evidence that is left behind, as well as executing the best heat treat they can. Keep it simple, it is complex enough.
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Sun 14 Apr, 2013 4:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In the '80s and '90s there was a lot of interest in ultra-high carbon super-plastic steels, for making things like turbine blades. This led to some "re-creations" of Damascus steels, very high carbon steels worked at red-heat to control the size of cementite grains. There are applications of research on sword steels outside swords.

You asked the critical question: "Where are you going to find a market for this?". If the market is sword-buyers, how will it ever pay?

Is the sword market large enough for patents to be worthwhile?

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Glen A Cleeton




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PostPosted: Sun 14 Apr, 2013 5:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Timo

Quote:
Consider that candle flames make nanotubes, and there is no baking at high temperature for a long time, just lots of carbon and high temperatures for a short time.


There were caverns full of pots baking components for quite awhile between firing and cooling off. Modern "wootz" is made today in much the same fashion but in smaller quantities (like one pot at a time), All day and noght, as with so many old time steel production. Another example the Africans with the pit and a circle of tuyers, and another large batches in a tatara. All of these were anything but what modern crucible production is like in production time.

Not really worth arguing about though, I know what I have read and perhaps others will do some reading on the subject. for themselves.

Cheers

GC
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Michael Pikula
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PostPosted: Sun 14 Apr, 2013 7:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Timo Nieminen wrote:
In the '80s and '90s there was a lot of interest in ultra-high carbon super-plastic steels, for making things like turbine blades. This led to some "re-creations" of Damascus steels, very high carbon steels worked at red-heat to control the size of cementite grains. There are applications of research on sword steels outside swords.

You asked the critical question: "Where are you going to find a market for this?". If the market is sword-buyers, how will it ever pay?

Is the sword market large enough for patents to be worthwhile?


Absolutely, I think metallurgical studies and the ability to create super strength alloys has very pertinent application in modern industry. However I don't see the sword as being a worth cause for this type of research, especially if we are looking at the sword from a historical perspective. The use of modern alloys in the craft today is wonderful, there is no doubt of that. It saves time, makes heat treat very predictable, and gives very consistent results, as well as making it financially feasible for thousands of collectors and enthusiasts to purchase.

The further you get away from traditional steels, the further away you get from what a sword is meant to be. I am personally guilty of this in my use of L6. I can make blades much thinner, with a much finer edge then would have traditionally been found. Why? Because I can. Because the alloy allows it. Because it is really fun to make something that looks huge, but handles and feels much lighter then anticipated.

If I had access to some super alloy that would allow me to get even thinner and lighter, yet increased stiffness, with the ability to flex the blade 180 degrees millions of time without fatigue, and an edge that would never get dull and could chop through concrete would I use it. Probably, but are we really still talking about a sword? When selecting an alloy for a specific sword we have to ask what is/would have been the intended use for this sword? If the answer is cutting concrete then why not use a chisel? If you plan on flexing the blade 180 degrees what exactly are doing?! The reality is historical alloys, for the most part, worked just fine for their intended use, and as metallurgical knowledge increased many of the "issues" with very early alloys was worked out. This is very important to note as students of the sword, in the historical context. Saying that we should engineer a super alloy to advance the sword is kind of missing the point in my opinion.
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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Sun 14 Apr, 2013 11:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I enjoyed reading the meandering posts on this subject.

The metallurgy of the sword generates much interest.
It *is* important! It gives us an understanding of the material the sword is made of by giving us numbers that quantify the toughness, wear resistance and hardness of the steel in a very handy manner. The danger is that this makes it easy for us to think that the sword itself is as simple to quantify and discuss.

*But* the metallurgy is still just *one* aspect of many equally important aspects in the making of a sword.
It is very good to strive for better knowledge of the metallurgy of the sword. It is of critical importance even, but equally important is the understanding of other aspects of its design.
By focusing on the metallurgy, we are easily led into questions like: what would make the most durable edge? or what is the strongest sword ever?

While these are questions that are fun to bounce back and forth, they do not really help broaden our knowledge of the sword or deepen our understanding of its function, use or development. A little bit, yes, but we will not se the whole picture and we might easily misunderstand some major factors that ahas driven the development of the sword through history. We may be fooled into believing that an understanding of the sword could be equally easy to quantify and put numbers on.
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Kjell Magnusson




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PostPosted: Mon 15 Apr, 2013 10:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

L. Clayton Parker wrote:
Nevertheless, I am still curious as to whether the intentional addition of carbon nano-tubes to modern steels would have any noticeable effect, be they from chicken feathers or some less mundane source.


If we look at it as a steel matrix with reinforcing carbon fibres (like steel-reinforced concrete, or fibreglass reinforced plastic) then I suspect that the gloss surface of the nanotubes could be a serious issue. From what I've understood it's near impossible to get things to bond to the fibres, and as such instead of the fibres bridging cracks and holding the piece together, they would just slip out of their holes as the matrix material is pulled apart (in possibly more technical terms, the pull-out strength would be nelible). The result of this being that the fibres could in this case just as well be voids, and in this regard we weaken the steel by adding them.

Of course, that's only one aspect of it all. I guess the fibres could, on the other hand, provide significant barriers to dislocation movement, strengthening the steel. But they could perhaps also act as crack initiation points, making it more brittle. And so on...
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