Improve quality of industrial knives through material selection

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. The first article of the series will discuss the first aspect: the material selection for the blades.

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. Let’s start with materials.

Choice of materials

Of course, the selection of the substrate material is one of the most important parameters when using industrial knives. In most cases, the substrate consists of steel. There are various subgroups though, each with their own typical characteristics. In this first article, we will look at the different types of steel that can be considered for knives, including the cost aspect. New steel grades such as powder metallurgical (PM) steels, for example, can help increase tool life and solve many cutting problems.

Read the in-depth article on material choices for industrial knives on Techniline, or download it here!

In the next section, we will discuss the different heat treatments that can be applied to knife steel to obtain the required properties (hardness, toughness).

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