One of the first tools used by humans was the blade. This simple implement has been refined and put to multiple purposes over time. Originally, edged tools were used to dig for roots or for chopping and cutting materials. Over time, blades have been designed for every imaginable application from ornamental to surgical. Blades were initially made from stones by chipping off small flakes to shape an edge. When metals were discovered they quickly became the preferred material from which to make all sorts of blades.
Today, most applications for blades are cutting and the preferred material for blade construction is steel. However, there other applications and different materials. These different blades include ceramic, Stellite, titanium and composite blade types.
The material used to make these blades is usually zirconium dioxide resulting in a material that is harder than hardened steel. While this hardness maintains a sharp edge, this property also means a more brittle material. Other features of ceramics are that they do not conduct electricity at room temperature are non-magnetic and corrosion resistant.
This material is an alloy of different non-ferrous metals. The primary metals in Stellite are cobalt and chromium. It may also contain molybdenum or tungsten along with several other elements depending upon the application. Applications for these materials in blade form are generally as cutting tools for machining very hard materials.
The most notable characteristics of titanium blades are corrosion resistance and hardness. It is normally used in alloy form with aluminum for divers’ knives. Its strength and corrosion resistance make it ideal for other marine and aerospace applications.
One special application for these blades is in the commercial printing process for an item known as the doctor blade on printing machinery. This blade’s application is to meter the ink that is applied to the rollers of the printing process. Composites of various formulations have different wear and strength characteristics.
Blades have evolved from being used to dig up roots to applications in aerospace technology over the course of time. The simplistic utility of an edged tool helps to account for that variability in usefulness. Doubtlessly there are more applications for blades out there just waiting to be discovered!