Saturday, September 2, 2023

The Future of Knife Making

 This could be the future of knife making.

These beads are the results of 3D printing

Yes, really.

These beads are 3-D printed plastic and can be any color, texture or shape you want by Chroma Scales.  You could customize any sort of knife scales/handle you want.  This is the beginning of the future.

Several years ago I saw a demonstration of 3-D metal printing.  Essentially it was a computer-controlled arc welding system that would deposit a spot of metal and build up a 3-D component.  This has evolved into printing metal engineering components and prototypes using high purity metals and laser beams.  Lincoln Electric is using this technology as is 6K Inc.  Many companies now offer this service.

 Miniaturization is a economical driving factor.  Big things will get smaller and find a way into your home.  Look at computers and microwave ovens 

One video showed a company printing out manifolds out of 316L, a low carbon stainless steel.  Not the best for knife blades, I grant you.  They video demoed a Trumpf TruPrint 3000.

Prices are still high, but you can buy 3-D printers that use plastic on Amazon now at reasonable prices, from under $200 to around $3000.  The polymer used is very affordable.

I was able to find glass fiber reinforced polymer, which gives the finished product high strength.  I believe carbon black reinforced polymer is available.  High strength metal alloys are just a bit farther down the road.

We’ll see the big guys, like Spyderco, Benchmade, Civivi, or Buck use it first to print unique blade shapes and designs.  But what about temper and hardness?  How will they heat treat it and such?  I remember those same questions asked about powdered metal.  Early adopters had problems with porosity, just ask Kimber.  They found answers.

The big change will occur then you no longer buy a knife, but purchase a program to print your own.  I suspect there will be acceptable options built into the software which will come with a license for one or more printings at which point it erases itself.  Code hackers will find a way to tweek the code to make unique knives or print unlicensed copies.  We see that problem with knockoffs.

There will be laws forbidding this and a new class of criminals. 

Remember the Star Trek episode ‘Tomorrow is Yesterday’?  A plot complication  occurs when the ship beams up an Air Forse security officer from the 1960s.  They keep him in the transporter room as to minimize the historic contamination from the future.  Scotty tries to relax him by offering the fellow Scotsman a dish of haggis from the replicator.  What is a replicator but a fast 3D printer?

You’ve seen the future.

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