Jump to content
I Forge Iron

General question for the community, steel coatings for knives.


Recommended Posts

Long story, kinda short: My uncle works for a company that has developed an extremely fast (20-60 mins) method for coating electrical conductive materials in a bonded layer of "Diamond Like Carbon" basically they strip xylane gas apart in a plasma field to unbonded C4+, and very carefully deposit it into, and onto the substrate of their choice. (read: grow microns thick layers of diamond on the surface of whatever they want) They are figuring any and all industrial and practical (sometimes impractical) uses for the tech.


He wants me to reach out on some forums to see any market potential for knife makers. The machines he builds to do this are unobtainably expensive, but he wonders if "any private makers would be interested in any coating business we could provide them" Right now, NO idea on cost, just simply asking for market feasability, interest, and utility.


A few properties of the coating off the top of my head are:

* incredibly hard surface, scratch resistant. 3-4 thousandths thick surface coating gets to an estimated equivalent of about 80+ on rockwell C (they measure in vickers, more adaptable for most industrial purposes, 2200-2700+ vickers), so extremely abrasion resistant.

*hydro and oleophobic: water doesn't stick, oil doesn't stick to it. doesn't rust, doesn't really get dirty.

*the coating is dark, like a golden black, almost entirely opaque, but some underlying material can be seen... kinda trippy...

*steel core, cutting edge, so can be sharpened, but corrosion and scratch resistant coating.


I sent him a slightly warped test blade, low layer damascus just to see what the coating did on topographically different layers, it caoted just fine, I assembled it then tested it to destruction. I was afraid the super hard outer layer would be brittle, but the inner core steel was flexible and after chopping through a 2X4 5 times with a wooden mallet, then a steel hammer,  I was convinced it would hold up. Eventually I bent the blade in a vice about 70-90 degrees before it snapped. my Damascus steel blade was at 54-56 rockwell C on their tester, the handle I blued with heat to soften and it measured right at 43. 


here are some pictures of the before and assembled after coating.







Anyone, everyone chime in, let me know in brutal honest answers your thoughts on the process, utility, and interest as if it were a service available to you as a maker. Also questions, concerns, or problems you see with it. 


thanks for taking any time to read and think about it!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If I understand the OP correctly, the proposed coating is on the sides of the blade, but not on the edge.  I suppose it will add a certain amount of corrosion resistance, and I like the way it doesn't cover up the pattern welded topography.  However if being used as a corrosion shield, it is important to know how well it responds to scratching under standard usage.  The sapphire face on my watch held up better than a normal crystal, but it still scratched pretty easily.  If this scratches, there will likely be no way to polish it out...

 I think the key parameter is going to end up being the price.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I had him coat a platen I made for my grinder as a test as well, we we took a standard utility razor blade, and "scratched" the heck out of the coated steel. It left marks, but come to find out it was like chalk on a chalkboard, it was the razor blade rubbing off on the DLC coating. a few swipes with a thumb and some pressure and they wiped off...





Still no idea on price points, He is not at liberty to tell me his operating costs, with companies he contracts with, that is kept under NDAs.


Lately I have been helping him test firearm components for various companies. Today, we just completed a 20,000 round torture test on two pistols that they had coated every part of the frame and slides. 20K rounds each pistol, and where the barrel locks into the slide, the coating is still pristine, it has polished the barrel where it makes contact and looks like it had been buffed. guns got so hot the fiber optic front sight melted off... lol I thought hammering for a few hours made my forearms sore... I had no idea.


What would be an agreeable price point? I guess it depends on the individual makers volume...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hmm.  I'm as skeptical of miracle coatings as the next guy, but if it works as well as you have been lead to believe I could see it as a way to protect the surface finish on more expensive chef's knives.

I kind of hate having to tell customers to "Allow the beautiful patina to grow" on a pattern welded kitchen knife that I have many hours of hand polish work on, and that they pay several hundred dollars for.  There might be room for a ~$100 coating option on  a $1k knife.

Do you have any idea how it affects the sharpening process?  I'd assume that once you get through it the coating would flake off easily as the steel underneath is honed away.  If so it wouldn't cause much problem, ut you would have to get through the coating to put on the initial edge.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

rhitee93: As far as I could tell, it sharpened pretty normal, I used the belt grinder to get through the coating, then used my DMT stones to do the final cutting edge (note, thats how I do all my blades...). It was a short blade, and I didn't pay much attention as I should have to see if it took longer than normal to get through it. A sharp abrasive belt moving at speed does go through the coating, its only a few thousandths thick...


I want to give him a higher layer count blade, and this time sharpened finer than a fleas whisker when going into the coating machine, the previous one I left the edge at about 40-60 thousandths, then sharpened after. Just see how fragile/brittle that cutting edge would be. 


Thomas: I've been running this platen he coated for about 2.5 years and its finally worn through in the really high contact areas. In fact the 1/2" just above level with the table on the flat platen wore through after ~18 hours grinding time, kept track for data purposes. Ceramic abrasive dust does a number pretty much anything apparently. The base steel is also D2 that I cryo treated... so its about the longest lasting platen setup possible. It doesn't have any major ridges on it yet, so still going strong. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

Depending on the price, it might be worth looking into.  Especially for folks who don't like the maintenance of plain carbon steel damascus.  Is there any (or plans to look into) food safe information for kitchen cutlery?  

There are already other relatively cheap coatings that work plenty well for damascus.  GunKote by KG industries comes to mind, and hard to beat $25 for a jar that will last hundreds of blades.....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...