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Offline TKM

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Modern blade technology
« on: February 26, 2009, 01:19:32 AM »
I've seen a few history channel specials and whatnot on modern forging and technologies that go into making today's top of the line bladed tools such as knives and axes. As an amateur graphic novel writer, I had designed a character who wears modern kevlar-based armor and uses a longsword forged with today's knife technology. I was wondering if anyone could suggest any good research material on how today's best blades are forged and constructed, so I can be sure that my image of this weapon is as accurate as possible.

Offline Chris B

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Re: Modern blade technology
« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2009, 07:16:44 AM »
I am not sure if you're aware of this, but modern kevlar body armor will not stop a knife.  The trama plate will, but a knife can go straight through the armor with a thrust.  Just thought I would point it out in case you did not.  Good luck with the book.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2009, 07:17:00 AM by Chris B »

Offline escherblacksmith

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Re: Modern blade technology
« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2009, 10:07:59 AM »
yeah, what he said . . .

Now, kevlar over/under chain and plate.  Then you got something.

As to the other, for the most part, it isn't all that different.  It is just better controlled.  We could go into the myriad of details of salt baths, cryogenic quenches, super alloys and whatnot.  In the end, it is still geometry of the blade for a purpose and balancing hardness vs toughness in the molecular structure of the steel(s) used.

I am sure there are others here with more information than I who will comment, but the largest online collection of swordsmiths (that I am aware of) is on the Sword Forum.  Do some searches, I am pretty sure you aren't the first author to ask.

Good Luck!
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Offline SirRichardBear

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Re: Modern blade technology
« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2009, 10:46:29 AM »
While Kevlar will not stop a thrust it is cut resistance so does provide some limited protection when backed by the new composite plates it make fair armor against knifes. 

There are many techniques to forge a sword even if they all follow the same basic pattern asking which is better is like asking a bowler which wood makes the best bow you will get as many answers as people you ask.
Beware of him that is slow to anger: He is angry for something, and will not be pleased for nothing.
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Offline Chris B

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Re: Modern blade technology
« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2009, 10:52:37 AM »
Now, kevlar over/under chain and plate.  Then you got something.

I actually have thought about that myself.  Not wanting to stray off the original topic, but a modern law enforcement IIIA vest is much the same shape and look of a Roman subarmalis worn underneath Lorica Hamata.  It would probably spread the weight of the maille much like an ancient subarmor or gambeson and add ballistic protection as well.  Of course the reality is that the weight v benefits isn't worth it, but it is a cool thought none-the-less. 

Offline TKM

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Re: Modern blade technology
« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2009, 11:00:02 AM »
Yeah, I didn't mean the armor was pure kevlar. There's a balance of steel plates and such... one of the history channel reports I watched was on Batman tech, and it described in full detail how the armor in the Dark Knight was supposedly constructed, and I was thinking somewhere along those lines.

Thanks for the link, escher. I'll give that a look right now.

Offline ALS

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Re: Modern blade technology
« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2009, 11:20:43 AM »
The technology hasn't yielded " super blades " if thats what you're asking. Temper on moder blades may be  bit  more even due to improvements in teperture controls and more uniform quality steels but the net result is still pretty much the same thing in most respects to a knife or sword 300 years ago. In sword manufacturing today outside of the cheapo Pacific rim wall banger blades, upper end makers are looking for historical accuracy rather than trying to create super blades, the focus is on recreating not new creation. Knives break down to some done as historical recreations and art knives. Art knives are freeform for the mosr part, patternwelded steel for blades is popular right now, rare materials for hilts like fossilized mastadon tusk and things like that. Art knives can be folders or fixed blades but a based on the makers whims. In the end they're all still steel cutting tools that will cut the same things and little more that blades 300-400-700 years ago would.

Offline TKM

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Re: Modern blade technology
« Reply #7 on: February 26, 2009, 11:39:26 AM »
Yeah, I'm not quite looking for the "super blade," but technologies that i know exist; Blades that rarely get dull (if ever), blades that don't rust or corrode with low maintenence, durable blades that are nearly impossible to snap or warp, things like that. I mean, if swords were still relevant to military combat today, what kind of blade technologies would the government most likely be investing in for our solider's swords?

Even if it's a technology that hasn't quite been realized but is still very feasible, then fine. My story does have a bit of a sci-fi element, but I'd like for everything in it to be scientifically explainable, not just pulled out of my weed puller, you know?

Offline ALS

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Re: Modern blade technology
« Reply #8 on: February 26, 2009, 12:13:03 PM »
Blades getting dull is a function of temper, a poorly tempered blade will get dull faster than a well tempered blade. Blades breaking is also a function of temper and misuse. Warping and sabering occur in the forging process and tempering process, taking a set, a slight bend in the blade, occures during use and is usually a function of misuse.

Different steels have different properties while they may all be suitable for blade making. There are numerous different kinds of stainless steels, lots of ten series steels 1040, 1050, 1060, 1070,1080 and 1090, high alloy steels like 5160 and more all or which are used for making knives and swords today. You may want to pick up Jim Hesoulias's books on blade smithing as they have a complete break down of steels and thier properties amongst a host of other material in them.

Todays military swords are a fashion accesory so practicality of function is secondary. Today miltary bayonetes are a functional tool. Bayonettes, at least the ones made for the US military by my buddies company Ontario Knife are stamped out, ground to shape and then tempered most all of it automated.

Quote
Even if it's a technology that hasn't quite been realized but is still very feasible, then fine


This is where you may be stuck, thats super sword stuff and it doesn't exist. Swords were made two ways way back when, forged or ground/stock removal usually a combo of both, and thats exactly how they're made today. We've added electricity to make the grinder go faster, CDC machines can also speed up the stock removal process, power hammers and hydraulic presses can speed the hammering along but they're still doing the same thing. Some man made steel have been created but all can break and fail, i've seen it, and for a variety of reasons.

You're probably better off shooting for some technofied version of Japanese sword manufacturing, theres already so much crap mythology about the katana out there anyway, folks would buy it in a heart beat.

Offline TKM

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Re: Modern blade technology
« Reply #9 on: February 26, 2009, 12:51:28 PM »
Thanks. I think I pretty much got it down. As important as it is to me to be able to explain the functionality, appearance is most important, as it is a comic book afterall. I want to be able to describe to an artist a sword that LOOKS like it was constructed with modern technolgy; practical, ergonomic handles, the proper color/shading that a high carbon blade would have, stuff like that. And yeah, I do know real military swords are a ceremonial thing, but don't forget, I'm writing fiction, and practicality is the primary objective for me. My story takes place in a collapsing world where corporations actually posess more money than the government. The military would certainly want resource-saving tools like a long-lasting practical sword for their use, and my story's protagonist winds up stealing the sword and armor from the main military research facility before blowing it up.

Offline Woodland Artisan

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Re: Modern blade technology
« Reply #10 on: February 26, 2009, 07:25:56 PM »
TKM,

Look into the powdered metal and ceramic blades.  Extremely wear resistant tools and some smaller blades are made out of these two technologies today.  Carbide is another option but not really considered "futuristic" on its' own, in my opinion.  "High carbon" steels are old technology and pretty well ... boring too.  We've been adding so many different things to those for so long that there doesn't seem to be a "futuristic" to that line, especially a color or look other than what you see already.

I've always liked the look of some of the ceramic kitchen knives ... somewhat translucent white color.  Looks very futuristic to me.  As for the practical use of ceramic in making swords, today, it really isn't.  But, you're looking into the future and ceramic might be a part of that given some not too far out-there advancements.

Powdered metal blades are something more realistic (although I don't think any swords are made from it yet?) but maybe you can play around with the technology of manufacturing side of things for these steels and give it a futuristic look, capabilities, etc.

If you're wanting to look out 30+ years, then there's other things to talk about too.


- Woodland Artisan
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... among other things  ;)

Offline Carl Heinz

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Re: Modern blade technology
« Reply #11 on: February 26, 2009, 10:31:11 PM »
Dr. Jim Hrisoulas (aka atar, aka Salamander Armory) has written three books on sword smithing.  The fourth is in the works.  They'd be a good place to start.  His pointies are state of the art.

Might give Jim a call.  He really likes to discuss blade history and current technology.

Right now he's working on goods for RPFS although he does have some interesting items on his web site:  www.atar.com.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2009, 11:58:22 AM by Carl Heinz »
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Offline escherblacksmith

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Re: Modern blade technology
« Reply #12 on: February 27, 2009, 09:19:21 AM »
That ceramic blade bit is interesting, many sci-fi futures end up at some sort of hardened glass/plastic structure that allows for very thin, very strong blades/tools/etc.  Wonder if we'll get there . . . but I digress.

So, and I am certain I have heard it asked somewhere before, if blades had continued in evolution (owing to ritual combat, perpetuation of the gladiator contests, etc) where would they be now?

That is a very tricky thought.  Blades have evolved largely in response to the armor/weapon they are facing (and vice-versa).  Rapiers are not 'better' than a Viking Oakeschott type X.  But their use/intent and the relative difficulties in forging drove their relative creation.

Perhaps a better thought would be, what are the bad guys wearing, and what would it take to get past this?  If something only dies with decapitation, then a smallsword will probably not be the appropriate.  But if something required a heart piercing (or spleen or pancreas or whatever) then it is easier to do that with an elongated icepick than with a broadaxe.

Choices, Choices, Choices.   
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Offline TKM

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Re: Modern blade technology
« Reply #13 on: February 27, 2009, 12:19:37 PM »
hehe... i don't think the military was developing anti-zombie weapons, but you never know in my story. It's really just supposed to be a general purpose combat weapon.

I had known about ceramic blades for a while, and how great they are for kitchen use, but last i knew they couldn't cut bone or anything like that, and i wasn't sure the technology could go any farther. I'll look it up though, and if it seems within reason that hardened ceramic/glass/plastic blades may one day be lethal tools of war, then i'll certainly consider it.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2009, 01:51:49 AM by TKM »

Offline TKM

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Re: Modern blade technology
« Reply #14 on: February 28, 2009, 01:27:58 AM »
doing my research on ceramic blades, there's something that confuses me...

How can something almost as hard as diamond be so brittle? It seems to contradict itself...

What I think would help me a lot is if someone can refer me to documentation from any research facility or military organization describing the kinds of weapon/armor technologies currently in development... i did a few searches and couldn't find anything useful, but if someone knows something, it would definitely help me better grasp what we may be looking at in the future.

(p.s. maybe only mildly off topic, but the future of weaponry/armor is, as far as i'm concerned, a lot more significant than my comic. It's my honest belief that most of us will live to see the collapse of the US government, and anarchy is eminent in our lifetime. Not to stir up debate or anything, but I just like being prepared.)
« Last Edit: February 28, 2009, 01:51:03 AM by TKM »

 

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