Spyderco Forum Registered User
Materials Science and Knives question
As some of you here can tell, I am interested in new materials for human use and for the use of knives. I have a question I would like anyone who is interested to answer: What are the main issues related to getting new materials into widespread use? Example: I am constantly reading about novel new amazing materials with fantastic properties such as carbon and other materials harder, stronger, lighter, tougher, and more corrosion-resistant than steel. Back in the 2005-2006 period I read about a titanium-aluminum laminate that is stronger than steel and they fired a tungsten bolt at it, at 900 miles per hour, and it did not penetrate much.
Why is it that it takes so long for newly discovered materials to go from laboratory samples and theoretical designs, to commercially available materials, and, knives and tools and armor and construction materials made from it? Is it the money/cost issue, or simply lack of sufficient human will to orchestrate it and have it done, or other factors?
Second question: As far as knives goes, is this a factor? There are materials that are hard and strong, even stronger and harder than steel, but, do not hold an edge well, or no? I know there are things like tungsten carbide and other carbides, oxides, and nitrides, that are harder than steel and would make perfect edged tools, but, because they are also brittle and not tough and elastic/flexible, they do not YET outdo steel. What would be needed to take advantage of all of these properties would be the ability to build them with atomic-molecular level control, and, make composites from them. Then you can get BOTH the hardness and strength AND the toughness and flexibility.
I read a paper by a Leslie Rubenstein in which she discussed the possibility of bonding tungsten carbide and related materials with carbon nanotubes. She said if that was done properly, it would make a material that had the super-hardness and strength of the carbide, with the flexibility and toughness of the nanotubes and polymers. This would be something straight out of science fiction but made real.