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Bill Conner




Location: Central Florida
Joined: 22 Jun 2005

Posts: 4

PostPosted: Wed 22 Jun, 2005 7:32 pm    Post subject: New technology in the old style         Reply with quote

Something I have noticed about practitioners of martial arts ( Eastern or Wester) is an atavistic reverence for the skills of the ancients-not entirely undeserved given the masterpieces that fill the museums. However , there seems to be something almost emotional behind it . It is admitted that the smiths of , say, 15th century Europe had a living laboratory that simply does not exist today for innovation, refinement and a rough and ready quality control ( a man who barely survived a fight due to shoddy workmanship may be the worst nightmare for a shoddy craftsman). However, shouldnt we today be able to turn out , say , an Oakeshott XVIIIb made of some material found only on F1 cars and the Space Shuttle that could perform feats that would seem black magic to a soldier or smith of the 1500's ? I have seen things done with INFI and a particular breed of Hitachi steel -high quality, but certainly not a matter of voodoo- that , if extrapolated into a traditional Western form would create fighting tools beyond compare to those of period pieces. Surely, with materials technology , CNC/CAD, and modern medical/physiological/ergonomics disciplines of today, we could turn out something amazing-arms, armor, what have you. Of course, who would invest so much in turning out limited numbers of items requiring serious amounts of development dollars with no practical use remains to be seen. It is, however a subject to consider-what materials? How would it be similar to the originals? How could it be made lighter/stiffer/stronger/better? This has been a source of great, rambling nonsense for a friend and I on many happy occasions...
In hoc signo vinces
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Joe Fults




Location: Midwest
Joined: 02 Sep 2003

Posts: 3,416

PostPosted: Wed 22 Jun, 2005 8:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If we want to talk about today, the real issue is probably turning it out cheaper.

After all WalMart, the world's most successful retailer, is the king of "good enough but cheap" and people flock to it.

"Our life is what our thoughts make it"
-Marcus Aurelius

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
-John F. Kennedy


Last edited by Joe Fults on Thu 23 Jun, 2005 6:54 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Bill Grandy
myArmoury Team


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Location: Alexandria, VA USA
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PostPosted: Wed 22 Jun, 2005 9:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Joe brings up a very valid point.

Let's ignore price for just a moment, though. Our technology in regards to material production is much more advanced than our ancestors, as is our ability to have consistent quality control. There actually are modern smiths who make swords out of "super" steels (Howard Clark comes to mind). But the way I see it, there is still far more research to be done on how swords were made in period. It is only in recent years where people have started really paying attention to proper edge geometry, proper dynamic qualities, etc., things that still aren't quite fully understood today. You can make a sword out of a super steel, but there are other factors that remain to be studied that we, as modern people, don't understand because we, as modern people, don't fight to the death with swords. I'm a modern sword practitioner, and I'm still often wowed by new research and designs based on originals.

Just some thoughts.
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Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
Joined: 15 Mar 2004
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PostPosted: Wed 22 Jun, 2005 9:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Maybe what is best of historical sword designs are the geometric subtle qualities that we are rediscovering.

Once we have learned why some swords were designed as they were that made them superior as weapons we can then choose to use historically similar materials with the same mechanical qualities and flaws to produce swords as close as possible to what they were historically .

The alternative is to respect all the above features but using supperior materials: Stronger, sharper, more resistant to edge damage etc.... Within a certain range of materials improvements the swords would not benefit from changes in design to make them better swords.

Now, materials an order of magnitude better might change what the optimum geometries should be.

A sword made of super strong, flexible and hard materials could be made much thinner or sharper than normal materials would permit and the optimum geometry of this super sword would be very different: Using normal materials a sword using this design would be unable to survive the normal stresses of cutting or simple swordplay Question

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Anton de Vries





Joined: 19 Nov 2004
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PostPosted: Thu 23 Jun, 2005 3:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Carbonfiber armor! Bring it on!

I'll gladly volunteer for testing, if I get to keep it. Big Grin
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George Hill




Location: Atlanta Ga
Joined: 16 May 2005

Posts: 614

PostPosted: Thu 23 Jun, 2005 4:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Anton de Vries wrote:
Carbonfiber armor! Bring it on!

I'll gladly volunteer for testing, if I get to keep it. Big Grin


Does that mean we can test it with you wearing it? Spiffy! We'll start with something thin, and work up until we find the right thickness. You can also keep the ones that aren't quite thick enough...


Actually, all modern soft body armor is carbon fiber armor. (Or so I understand. Kevlar is a carbon compound is it not?)

But going back to the proper topic, before I return to cleaning my house, I would like to say that I find it damned irritating that there is a super banite L6 Kat out there, and no super duper longswords. Sad

Maybe we should petition for an L6 Longsword? (Eh, How about a L6 single hand sword and a round target made out of the same stuff they make the indestructable airplane black boxes?)


All told, I'm all for the UFO metal sword. I'd suggest to start with, we could stick to historical edge geometery, and alter it after we have the materials down.

To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes. - --Tacitus on Germania
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Shane Allee
Industry Professional



Location: South Bend, IN
Joined: 29 Aug 2003

Posts: 506

PostPosted: Thu 23 Jun, 2005 8:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Steel is steel people, there is no magic steels and there is no super steels. What separates one steel from another is the amount of carbon and various trace elements and their amounts. It is all a balancing act from there. In the right amounts some of these trace elements add properties that are good for swords, too much and it isn't. While you may be increasing certain properties by the addition of something, it might also be decreasing other properties. Unless your making your own steel, you don't have any control over the steels specs. The smith has to find the right steel that meets their requirements and do what they need it to do, with the way that they do things and the tools they have.

Another thing that is overlooked is differences in companies steels. Just because you buy one places L6 doesn't mean it will be the same as another companies', you have to check the specs.

This is just the steel alone, not factoring in the way it is heat treated. Or you have the guys out there as well that will fold certain steels together to get properties they just can't get from one steel.

Not positive about it, but I'm not too sure there is an L6 type XII floating around out there. It was heat treated to form martensite rather than banite, but it wasn't because it couldn't have been banitic. It all comes down to the choices the smith makes to get the results they want.

Shane
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David Martin




Location: Southeastern Pennsylvania
Joined: 11 Apr 2005

Posts: 162

PostPosted: Thu 23 Jun, 2005 11:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There are high-performance steels out there. ZDP-189 comes to mind as an example. There are also composites, polymers, random matrix metals, etc. that will outperform conventional metals. All at a cost, of course.

I prefer perfect symmetry and clean lines to a "handmade" appearance. I would also very much like to see longswords made of ultra-modern high performance materials. This is not to say that I don't have an appreciation for antique or reproduction arms. I would love to see what a modern longsword would be capable of doing, relative to one of its historical counterparts.
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Shane Allee
Industry Professional



Location: South Bend, IN
Joined: 29 Aug 2003

Posts: 506

PostPosted: Thu 23 Jun, 2005 12:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yeah there are steels out there that are called high performance, but what is that high performance in terms of? That was part of my point, there are tons of different steels out there for all the various jobs we use it for. It doesn't mean that they will work well for swords though. If there was even just one or two "super" steels out there that did everything we steel to do well, then we wouldn't need all the various types.

As far as all the new age, space age, whatever materials.... sure we have things that will out preform steel in certain regards. Most of these materials may excel at certain qualities we need in swords, but most don't meet all the requirements. If one day we do create a material that does, it most likely will be too expensive for sometime to even be considered for our little niche. Then there is the aspect of the change of tools to work the new material and if current craftsmen will be able to transition over or would even want too.

Sorry to say that there is no reason you can't have clean lines and symmetry so close only a few could see irregularities and it still be handmade. It can be done, you just won't find it on production pieces. While we maybe able to machine things out almost perfectly, in a production environment there will always be acceptable tolerances. Many time you will find when dealing with craftsmen that their tolerances are much more restricted than that of a company machining out similar parts. No matter how you look at it though, if you want near perfection....your going to pay for it.

Shane
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George Hill




Location: Atlanta Ga
Joined: 16 May 2005

Posts: 614

PostPosted: Thu 23 Jun, 2005 5:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Shane Allee wrote:
Steel is steel people, there is no magic steels and there is no super steels.


I don't have enough materials science to know what material would make the 'ultimate' sword, or even the 'almost ultimate sword.'

I simply would like to see this be something those who do have that materials science compete on.

If I was super rich and famous, I would think about offering one of those prizes to grad students at MIT and whatnot on who could make the best super sword. (Marble chopping and whatnot, like in Clash of the Titans, and without a blemish on the blade.)

I'd mostly like to point out in this post that we who want the super sword know that steel is steel, and are more then willing to make the jump to unobtanium instead of steel. UFO metal for everyone!

To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes. - --Tacitus on Germania
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Bill Conner




Location: Central Florida
Joined: 22 Jun 2005

Posts: 4

PostPosted: Thu 23 Jun, 2005 6:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Admittedly, there are different " high performance steels" that can be had, made for different purposes-low corrosion, high temperatures, wear resistance, ability to flex, etc. My point is that I would love to see significant reasearch into exactly what alloy( or pattern of steel usages a' la the pattern welded blades from the Celts of long ago) would create the best blade. Or , as regards armor for instance, exactly what sort of setup would a modern engineer use to create the ultimate set of harness that can not only resist puncture but ablate kinetic impact, keep one cool, mobile and comfortable? Such armor may actually be of some use to riot police or corrections officers, for instance . Make it threat level IV compliant, and SWAT cops might buy it, who knows. Point is, with advances in science since the period of their use, surely if we were to pursue such items with the original intent, as we do with the martial arts of the period, we could create significantly more advanced tools and equipment. Chobham plate mail, estocs with industrial-diamond coated piercing point, warhammers with a mercury filled capillary inside that transfers energy to the center of percussion just at the point of impact, making for extra swing speed that picks up additional mass right around the moment of striking...
In hoc signo vinces
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