Improve quality of industrial knives through heat treatments

Industrial knives are used for many processes. Their service life highly depends on the application they are used for. At the request of and with the necessary input from companies, the QualiKnife COOCK project, which aims to improve the quality and service life of industrial knives, was launched this year. We’ll be looking at some of the relevant parameters. After material selection and the heat treatment of the knives, in this third article we will look at the possible surface treatments for knife steel.

In the technology industry, industrial knives are used in many different processes. Knives can be found in cutting, trimming and punching tools, and are usually made of high-quality steels, which are heat-treated to increase the strength and resistance to wear. The service life of these blades is highly dependent on the application and the material to be cut. The field of application of industrial knives is undoubtedly very broad. Knives for plastics and paper are subject to different loads than knives for cutting sheet steel. For example, plastics and composites often contain hard particles or fibres, which badly affect the cutting blades because they increase wear. Therefore, early resharpening or replacement of the blades may be required. In metal products, high-strength steels pose a similar problem.

The COOCK (‘Collectief Onderzoek & Ontwikkeling en Collectieve Kennisverspreiding’ - Collective Research & Development and Collective Knowledge Dissemination) project QualiKnife aims to provide a solution by addressing three important parameters for knives: the material, the heat treatment of the surface and the core. In the coming months, we will separately highlight the different aspects of knife quality in a more extensive article each time. After starting with materials in the first article and heat treatments in the second article, we will look more closely at the possible surface heat treatments available for knife steel.

In this article the following topics will be discussed:

  • Surface hardening versus massive hardening
  • Diffusion processes versus surface hardening
  • Thermally applied layers versus diffusion layers
  • Hardening of stainless steel knives
  • Other methods

Read the in-depth article on surface treatment on knife steel on Techniline (Dutch or French), or download it here!

The QualiKnife Project on the improvement of industrial knives was realised with the financial support of VLAIO.