How do they make steel and ceramic knives? You can look at making a knife like a recipe in terms of ingredients, temperature and cooking time.
Let’s start with a steel knife. There are literally thousands of combinations of ingredients in various proportions that one can choose from. My favorite American steel manufacturer is the Crucible Steel Company out of Syracuse, New York. Their CPM (Crucible Particle Metallurgy) process is specifically designed for knife steel. Steel is the combination of iron and carbon. Crucible adds these alloys to the iron for their CPM S35VN knife steel in these proportions…
- Carbon 1.4% (hardens the steel)
- Chromium 14% (stain resistance)
- Vanadium 3.0% (strength for holding an edge)
- Molybdenum 2% (wear resistance for edge retention)
- Niobium 0.5% (wear resistance for edge retention)
This is all forged at 2100 degrees, annealed at 1650 degrees and double tempered at 600 degrees with a freezing treatment between tempers.
Ceramic knives are a different story and Kyocera makes the best . Unlike steel, ceramic knives have one basic recipe. With 330 tons of pressure zirconium oxide powder, is compressed into the shape of a knife. A black blade is made out of a black zirconium oxide and offers extra durability. This type of blade goes through an extra firing process called a “hot-isostatic press” for 2 days at over 4000 degrees creating a tighter weave between the ceramic molecules, thus creating a tougher blade. The white ceramic blade is made out of white zirconium oxide and is kilned at 1200 degrees but does not go through this expensive sintering process.