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Sharona J





Joined: 12 Apr 2007

Posts: 1

PostPosted: Thu 12 Apr, 2007 11:30 pm    Post subject: Ceramic blade making?         Reply with quote

Hi, I'm new, and I'm not really sure where this should go, heh. Um, I'm Sharona. I'm an artist and writer, for the most part. A few years ago I heard mention of a person being able to fight with a ceramic sword or short sword. I'm interested in learning more about the history of this weapon, if it has been used in practical situations, as well as learning the process of actually building a blade using that sort of material. My reasons for wanting specific instructions are twofold- I plan on writing a fictional character in a novel who makes and uses ceramic blades (if its practical), and I also plan on experimenting with my own materials to produce one or two of these blades. I have a few ideas as to how to achieve a cutting edge with ceramic, but my main concern is the structural integrity of a fighting instrument that, well, is made out of stuff that mainly shatters when you hit it hard against something else, heh.

Sorry if this is posted in the wrong forum, and thanks in advance for your help!

-Sharona
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Al Muckart




Location: NZ
Joined: 27 Dec 2005

Posts: 309

PostPosted: Fri 13 Apr, 2007 1:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Sharona, welcome to the forum.

I think you'll find that the practicalities of ceramic blades are actually quite limited, and that they are extremely modern creations.

Ceramic knife blades of various forms have been around for a decade or so in production knives. They have the advantage that the ceramic they are made from (ususally some form of aluminium or zirconium oxide) is extremely hard. Not as hard as diamond, but fairly close if you believe the marketing. This means that it can be made extremely sharp and will not wear down and blunt the way a steel blade will. The downside of course is that it can't be sharpened easily since finding something hard enough to grind the blade to sharpen it is difficult, usually they have to be sent back to the factory to be sharpened.

Ceramic blades mostly find their applications in cookware, where the fact that they are non metallic and won't taint food or corrode in the presence of acids is useful. Cooking blades also tend to be relatively gently used and can command a relatively high price.

The biggest downfall of ceramic blades, and the reason you won't find them in swords, is that they are extremely brittle and if you hit them they will shatter. They aren't quite as brittle as the ceramics your crockery is made out of but they don't have anything like the resilience of steel. For swords, which can expect to take a fair amout of percussive abuse in their working lives, as well as hitting hard things like armour, buckles, or bone, ceramic is simply too fragile and would either shatter outright or chip irreperably.

The manufacturing process of ceramic blades also appears to limit the effective size of pieces to the large kitchen knife scale, or about 10 inches long. Part of this may be that the leverage of a longer blade makes it that much easier to break.

As far as I'm aware, there have been no functional ceramic swords made. It may be that one or two have been created as show pieces but they would be extremely unlikely to serve as functional combat weapons and they certainly aren't a medieval or historic blade material if that's the direction of your writing.

On the other hand, the breadth of form, function, and artistic beauty present in extant metal swords should provide a great deal of inspiration if you have the time and energy to examine them. There is a great thread in the historic arms talk forum full of photographs from the musee d'armee in Paris, and the collection galleries have many pictures of reproduction arms, both of extremely high quality and historic accuracy as well as some more fantastic and mass-produced items, all with their own characteristics and aesthetic.

I hope this helps a bit.

--
Al.
http://wherearetheelves.net
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Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
Joined: 15 Mar 2004
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PostPosted: Fri 13 Apr, 2007 6:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Welcome to the site. Big Grin

Al sort of said it all as far as the current state of the art of ceramics blades: Very hard blade, very good at staying sharp if used in slicing cuts with little pressure and no impact.

Now some sort of future material with the hardness of ceramics and much more flexibility and chock resistance is a possibility. If your story is set in the near or far future anything could be possible. Wink

The ones I've read about apart from kitchen cutlery would be some folding knives with ceramic blades by Boker.

Ceratitan: https://www.bokerusa.com/default2.asp ( the link only goes to the home page so: Go to On-LINE SHOP/ choose
BOKER Ceratitan Pocket Knives and you will get to the page with the technical description of the knife and the material specification ).

Probably less fragile than ceramic blades but probably too soft for a durable sword blade as it might not survive edge to edge contact. ( Although one tries to avoid this when possible: Edge to edge or edge to flat parrying is a whole subject in itself and I would suggest doing some searches on this site as it's been discussed before ).

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Jon Kemper





Joined: 25 Nov 2006

Posts: 9

PostPosted: Sat 14 Apr, 2007 11:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If you're looking for a futuristic material for making blades out of, I'd look into either memory metals or metallic glasses.

I'm really not sure on the chemistry that makes either one of those materials work. I do know what characteristics they exibit. Right now, there are two types of memory metals I know of. The first has a set form at room temperature, but becomes highly bendable when made cold/hot. The second type has the exact opposite characteristic. From what I've seen, metallic glasses are basically a super-elastic version of their original metal. That is to say, they keep the energy given to them. It'd be like making a rubber ball that bounced ten times as long. Personally, I'm not sure that would be a benifit in a sword. It might cause undue vibrations.

I've heard talk from a couple metallergy professors on my campus about being able to make a memory metal that responds to electricity instead of temperature. Think about having a blade you could fold, coil, or otherwise make small, then pressing a button, and have a sword that's as durable and stable as a traditional blade. Heck, why not go the extra mile and say it's self-repairing. It's not entirely unfeasable, since the metal "remembers" it's original position when the current is on. Theoretically, the material would just return there after it is damaged, provided it isn't actually removed from the blade. I'd also think that the sword might be self-sharpening and capable of having a very, very sharp edge.

Ironically, I came up with that idea during my government class. It's amasing what you can think up when you're bored. Big Grin

I have a catapult. Give me all your money, or I will fling an enormous rock at your head.
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John Cooksey




Location: NW Ark
Joined: 15 Nov 2003

Posts: 291

PostPosted: Sun 15 Apr, 2007 1:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jon Kemper wrote:
If you're looking for a futuristic material for making blades out of, I'd look into either memory metals or metallic glasses.

I'm really not sure on the chemistry that makes either one of those materials work. I do know what characteristics they exibit. Right now, there are two types of memory metals I know of. The first has a set form at room temperature, but becomes highly bendable when made cold/hot. The second type has the exact opposite characteristic. From what I've seen, metallic glasses are basically a super-elastic version of their original metal. That is to say, they keep the energy given to them. It'd be like making a rubber ball that bounced ten times as long. Personally, I'm not sure that would be a benifit in a sword. It might cause undue vibrations.

I've heard talk from a couple metallergy professors on my campus about being able to make a memory metal that responds to electricity instead of temperature. Think about having a blade you could fold, coil, or otherwise make small, then pressing a button, and have a sword that's as durable and stable as a traditional blade. Heck, why not go the extra mile and say it's self-repairing. It's not entirely unfeasable, since the metal "remembers" it's original position when the current is on. Theoretically, the material would just return there after it is damaged, provided it isn't actually removed from the blade. I'd also think that the sword might be self-sharpening and capable of having a very, very sharp edge.

Ironically, I came up with that idea during my government class. It's amasing what you can think up when you're bored. Big Grin

I didn't surrender, but they took my horse and made him surrender.
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