Recently awarded “The American-Made Knife of the Year” at the 2009 Blade Show, the Kershaw Speedform folder features a composite blade that combines both CPM-D2 with Uddeholm EL-Max powder steel. This innovative edged creation also has CNC-machined handles of 6AL 4V titanium, a frame blade-locking mechanism and a pocket clip.
While we are fortunate to have a wide range of blade steels to choose from, that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. Knife makers are constantly in pursuit of fine grain steel that possesses both enhanced corrosion protection and optimum edge holding. To meet these needs, Bohler-Uddeholm Steel, using their unique cross-rolling technology that provides an exceptionally homogeneous product, now offers both conventional wrought (melted) and powder grades of steel designed specifically for the knife maker.
Typically, conventional wrought (melted) grades of steel are easier and less expensive to produce. However, such steels are unable to provide the wide range of alloying elements that are available in powder steels. Take Vanadium for example, which is essential for optimum edge retention. Only a small percentage of this material can be included in a conventional molten steel. However, powder steels can accept 10% or more vanadium in their matrix without any problem. Simply put, third generation Powder Metallurgy technology results in cleaner steel, which, in turn, increases ductility and provides an enhanced level of chipping resistance.
Powder Steel Products
Bohler-Uddeholm now stocks two grades of high performance powder blade steel, Bohler M390 and Uddeholm ELMAX, in their Seattle, Washington warehouse. These are both third-generation developments that provide maximum steel cleanliness, with extremely low non-metallic inclusions that can affect both blade finish and edge production. Since this technology breaks the steel down into extremely fine powder, as well as allowing the addition of large amounts of alloying elements, the third-generation powder steels are tougher than those previously produced and can be heat-treated to elevated Rockwell hardness without accompanying brittleness.