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astro
03-24-2006, 04:48 PM
Just curious. Is there any high tech material that would do better than steel in a real (ie your life depends on it) one on one sword fight?

CBCD
03-24-2006, 05:00 PM
Uh duh - Mithril Silver.

[Sorry, I couldn't help it.]

sweeteviljesus
03-24-2006, 05:04 PM
Just curious. Is there any high tech material that would do better than steel in a real (ie your life depends on it) one on one sword fight?

Do you mean is there a material that is stronger and holds an edge better than steel? I don't know if there is a material that a sword could be made from that will help you win a sword fight. I don't know how frequently swords broke in fights, so I don't know if there is a better material. That said, there are certainly swordmaking techniques that result in a superior sword such as differential quenching. The simplest implementation of that technique that I ever heard was to carve a squash or something like it into a shape which followed the curve of the blade. The knife was then heated evenly and the edge was stuck into the squash. The edge would cool rapidly and become very hard whereas the back of the blade would cool more slowly and be softer and springier and consequently more resistant to breakage.

My wife's uncle tells me that he can bring a titanium knife through the metal detector at the courthouse where he is a judge, so if you and your adversary have to pass through security, make sure you can take a titanium sword. :)

FWIW,
Rob

Jpeg Jones
03-24-2006, 05:09 PM
I've heard many judges are used to bringing titanium weaponry into their courtrooms. Is this true?

garygnu
03-24-2006, 05:28 PM
Fully ceramic knives will also pass through metal detectors, but would quickly break if used to parry.
Titanium could be added to steel, but that way, and by itself, it's very stiff. This could be bad, possibly causing injury to the wielder's hand. I couldn't find information on exactly how well it holds an edge.

Translucent Daydream
03-24-2006, 05:34 PM
I heard somewhere that Samorai swords where made with folded metal... I think that it had overlapping cross grained steel... That would make it pretty stiff...


Someone here probably knows much more about that than I do.

Stranger On A Train
03-24-2006, 07:02 PM
Titanium could be added to steel, but that way, and by itself, it's very stiff. This could be bad, possibly causing injury to the wielder's hand. I couldn't find information on exactly how well it holds an edge.Far from being stiffer, unalloyed titanium is actually more elastic than steel, with a Young's Modulus of ETi=116 GPa versus Esteel=200 GPa. I can't envision how the difference in stiffness either way would "caus[e] injury to the wielder's hand", but there you go. There do exist a few titanium alloy knives, promoted primarily for their corrosion resistance, but they're really novelty items which have an edge-holding ability comperable only to the softest of knife steels, even after much heat treatment. Titainum is sometimes used in tools that are used in a sparkless environment (like blasting cap crimpers), but is primarily used for its corrosion resistance in reactive environments and ability to retain material strength at elevated temperatures. There are no production firearms made of titanium owing to the cost of it, and while a titanium weapon might pass though a detector that relies on ferrous content to display magnetic properties it won't pass through airport scanners and the like.

Back to the OPs question, I don't think any material is superior at doing what steel does best. A runner up might be bronze, an alloy of copper and tin (and was in fact what weapons were made of before the smelting and alloying of iron (to produce weapon-strength steel) became common. (The production of steel was actually independently reproduced by three separate cultures.) There are materials that are harder (like ceramics) but that don't display adequate toughness, and there are tough materials but the lack the ability to retain an edge. There may be some exotic nickel/copper/chromium/tungsten alloys or something like depleted uranium that, given the approrpriate heat treatment, might be both stronger and tougher than steel, but between the exotic content resulting in unavailability and the weight, I doubt they'd be practical as a melee weapon material.

Stranger

Antinor01
03-24-2006, 07:11 PM
Uh duh - Mithril Silver.

[Sorry, I couldn't help it.]

Should've known I'd be beaten to it by this crowd. That was my joke!!!!

silenus
03-24-2006, 07:17 PM
I heard somewhere that Samorai swords where made with folded metal... I think that it had overlapping cross grained steel... That would make it pretty stiff...


Someone here probably knows much more about that than I do.

For reference. (http://swordforum.com/forge/roadtodamascus.html)

Una Persson
03-25-2006, 12:00 AM
Generally speaking, at this time and technology level steel alloys are the best choice for sword blades for a wide array of reasons. Don't sell steel short; a look through a couple of good engineering books can find some incredible alloys with very nice properties, and forming methods (such as folding) can really improve the properties quite a bit.

There are no production firearms made of titanium owing to the cost of it, and while a titanium weapon might pass though a detector that relies on ferrous content to display magnetic properties it won't pass through airport scanners and the like.
I do not think you are correct, but that depends on how you define "made of". Most of this gun is titanium, but not all of it. Then again, you'd be hard-pressed to find many guns made of a single material of any type...

http://hunting.about.com/od/guns/l/aasttaurustrcka.htm

Stranger On A Train
03-25-2006, 12:05 AM
I do not think you are correct, but that depends on how you define "made of". Most of this gun is titanium, but not all of it. Then again, you'd be hard-pressed to find many guns made of a single material of any type...I stand manifestly corrected.

Stranger

Una Persson
03-25-2006, 07:39 AM
I stand manifestly corrected.

Stranger
It wouldn't have been on my mind at all, except now that Kansas passed concealed carry this week, I'm looking for light firepower...

First Amongst Daves
03-25-2006, 08:18 AM
There may be some exotic nickel/copper/chromium/tungsten alloys or something like depleted uranium that, given the approrpriate heat treatment, might be both stronger and tougher than steel

Slightly off-topic, but is that why depleted uranium is used in tank shells?

mks57
03-25-2006, 08:29 AM
Slightly off-topic, but is that why depleted uranium is used in tank shells?

It's hard, dense and pyrophoric.

Mahaloth
03-25-2006, 10:10 AM
Well, Adamantium seems to be popular as well, but more for armor than swords.

scr4
03-25-2006, 10:10 AM
There are materials that are harder (like ceramics) but that don't display adequate toughness, and there are tough materials but the lack the ability to retain an edge.
Can we do better with a composite structure, e.g. CFRP blade bonded to a ceramic edge?

ultrafilter
03-25-2006, 11:53 AM
As long as we're getting in to exotic materials, what if the entire blade were a single carbon compound?

Bryan Ekers
03-25-2006, 12:03 PM
As long as we're getting in to exotic materials, what if the entire blade were a single carbon compound?

Just make sure you don't get suckered into buying a lesser-quality knockoff.


...'cause, y'know, that'd be a carbon copy.

garygnu
03-25-2006, 01:31 PM
Just make sure you don't get suckered into buying a lesser-quality knockoff.


...'cause, y'know, that'd be a carbon copy.
Why did I laugh so hard at this?

As for why a stiff blade would hurt...wielding a sword hurts. You get used to it after a while, but a completely inflexible blade would tranfer a lot of vibration right into your hand when it hits something, like another sword.

Unenchanted diamond would not make a good blade because diamonds can cleave in half if struck at the right place. Many jewelry warranties do not cover this. I suspect many other carbon compounds have similar limitations.

Stranger On A Train
03-25-2006, 02:09 PM
Can we do better with a composite structure, e.g. CFRP blade bonded to a ceramic edge?Possibly, though I think you'd be more likely to go with a metal matrix composite than carbon fiber or somesuch. Part of the problem with carbon fiber is that it is so stiff (compared to the binder matrix) that it tends to undergo fracture with any tensile or impact loading. For some types of structures this isn't a major problem, but I suspect that for a sword being used to parry or deflect blows that it might not be sufficiently robust. And your ceramic edge may be prone to chipping, so you'd want to make it replaceable.

As long as we're getting in to exotic materials, what if the entire blade were a single carbon compound?Diamond is very hard, but surprisingly not too strong; it'll cleave readily if struck the proper way (hence, gemstones) and so isn't really an ideal material for large impact structures. Steel has the very nice property of developing a grain which can be modified or directed both by heat treatment/annealing and the inclusion of different alloying elements to delivery a good balance of hardness and toughness (which are not the same thing) as well as excellent tensile strength and elasticity. And unlike more exotic materials, it's pretty easy to work with.

I'm a mechanical engineer, not a material scientist by training, and there may be some existing or near-term material that could be superior to steel--maybe some kind of high strength polymer-ceramic hybrid or some non-ferrous high atomic number element alloy--but it's not going to be as common or easy to work as steel.

Well, except for that Puppeteer hull material...I understand that stuff is pretty stout. ;)

Stranger

Ins&Outs&What-have-yous
03-25-2006, 02:25 PM
Materials science is a field fo study that fascinated me enough to choose it as my undergraduate major.

Is there any high tech material that would do better than steel in a real....sword fight?If the cost of raw materials and cost to manufacture the sword are not an issue, then yes.

You would want to maximize the specific strength (sometimes called 'specific gravity') and specific modulus of your sword blade. [ specific strength = strength divided by density ] In other words, the sword ideally would have high strength, high toughness, and low weight. A hi-tech composite material would be best suited in maximizing both tensile and compressive specific strengths/moduli. Hi-tech ceramics also have high specific strength, but they are too brittle. However, there are a wide array of composites available along with many different processing methods. No one has likely ever manufactured a sword using advanced composites; so, it would take an engineer a minimum of several weeks of research and testing to decide upon the best 1) reinforcement material, 2) matrix material, 3) orientation of reinforcing fibers, and 4) processing methods.

Off the top of my head, I would recommend a double reinforment of continuous aligned carbon fibers and discontinuous carbon nanotubes in an epoxy resin matrix with fibers oriented along the sword's long axis. Pultrusion might be a feasible processing method, though I'm not certain.

Also, the blade edge could be made of diamond. Industrial saw blades are commonly diamond tipped so why not your sword? This is life or death here and money is no object, right?

That would be one kick-ass sword....but it would cost a fortune.

High tech composites* are most commonly found in aircraft and (to a lesser extent) automobiles. Steel alloys are much preferred in many applications due to it's cheaper cost. Though, the construction industry has caught on to composites in recent years.

ArchitectChore, a soon to be graduate with a B.S. degree in materials engineering.



*-as opposed to low tech composites like steel reinforced concrete or even straw reinforced mud.

Stranger On A Train
03-25-2006, 02:37 PM
On "exotic" carbon compounds: I didn't consider buckminsterfullerine chains, which are noted for having an absurdly high tensile strength. However, I don't know what their fracture properties are, or whether they could be cast into a strong, shear-resistant solid piece I don't really know.

If you wanted to be really silly, I suppose you could hypothesize some kind of long-chain muon (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muon)-bound elements which are likely to be extremely strongly bound relative to their electron-based chemistry counterparts, but since muons decay after a 2.2 microsecond lifespan, you're left with having to cart around some kind of particle accelerator that will continuously create and siphon out muons to replunish those which are lost.

If you could somehow create a stable muon...you'd win the Nobel Prize (or a few) for making tabletop fusion practical, and could therefore pay a massive staff of physicists, electrochemists, and metallurgists to figure out the minor niggling details of creating your superalloy while you relax with your bevy of former Playboy Playmates in your champaign-filled hot tub and have your head massaged while drinking Napoleon brandy from a platinum chalice. Science is so demanding.

Stranger

Ins&Outs&What-have-yous
03-25-2006, 02:39 PM
Part of the problem with carbon fiber is that it is so stiff (compared to the binder matrix) that it tends to undergo fracture with any tensile or impact loading.That depends on the matrix material. Metal matrix materials (which you suggested) are worth considering as well as stiff thermoset polymer matrix mat'ls. You bring up a good point about impact resistance. A well chosen composite could hold up but, like I said in previous post, additional research and testing is necessary in final material selection.

Stranger On A Train
03-25-2006, 02:56 PM
Off the top of my head, I would recommend a double reinforment of continuous aligned carbon fibers and discontinuous carbon nanotubes in an epoxy resin matrix with fibers oriented along the sword's long axis. Pultrusion might be a feasible processing method, though I'm not certain.

Also, the blade edge could be made of diamond. Industrial saw blades are commonly diamond tipped so why not your sword? This is life or death here and money is no object, right?Saws are typically diamond-coated for their abrasive properties; I'm not sure you could make a good slicing edge out of that. There are synthetic cermaics that could be used, but again, they tend to be fracture prone. And you'd have to figure out how to bond your ceramic edge securely to the composite; embedding them in the resin matrix (with a different elastic modulus and flexure properties) may not be sufficiently secure to assure integrity.

Also consider that your ceramic-carbon fiber sword is going to be considerably lighter than a steel one; you'd need to install ballast (maybe a tungsten core) to give it heft. In the end, I don't know that it would really be superior to a steel sword.

But it would make a hell of a graduate research project. I'd love to be at the dissertation. "Behold--Excalibur!" ;)

Stranger

Valgard
03-25-2006, 05:37 PM
Saws are typically diamond-coated for their abrasive properties; I'm not sure you could make a good slicing edge out of that. There are synthetic cermaics that could be used, but again, they tend to be fracture prone. And you'd have to figure out how to bond your ceramic edge securely to the composite; embedding them in the resin matrix (with a different elastic modulus and flexure properties) may not be sufficiently secure to assure integrity.

Also consider that your ceramic-carbon fiber sword is going to be considerably lighter than a steel one; you'd need to install ballast (maybe a tungsten core) to give it heft. In the end, I don't know that it would really be superior to a steel sword.

But it would make a hell of a graduate research project. I'd love to be at the dissertation. "Behold--Excalibur!" ;)

Stranger

So build a rapier - thrusting weapon with a hellacious sharp point rather than a swinging weapon.

Stranger On A Train
03-25-2006, 06:17 PM
So build a rapier - thrusting weapon with a hellacious sharp point rather than a swinging weapon.You could build that with any number of materials; a reinforced-tip Teflon or carbon fiber rapier might be ideal for its light weight and flexibility. But we were speaking of sword blades, which generall speaks to a weapon with a slashing edge like a broadsword or katana.

Stranger

waterj2
03-25-2006, 06:38 PM
OK, so Lord of the Rings references have been taken, but how about Rearden Metal (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technology_in_Atlas_Shrugged#Rearden_Metal)? Or perhaps a tooth of Shai-Hulud (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crysknives)?

lskinner
03-25-2006, 11:26 PM
I spent some time in Okinawa in the '70s and became friendly with a master sword maker. One evening after a few drinks, he claimed to me that some of the sword makers in Japan had discovered a new "secret" alloy that included gold and copper and some exotic steps to form and temper the sword. He claimed that it was twice as strong as steel that it held a better edge etc.

Somehow he challenged me to bring a regular steel sword to test and so I met him with a really high quality (and expensive) steel sword. After a little coaxing, I took a swing which he parried with his golden sword. My steel sword got cut in two like in some cheesy martial arts flick.

Bryan Ekers
03-26-2006, 12:01 AM
Why did I laugh so hard at this?

You'd be surprised how rare it is to get an opportunity to make a carbon joke.

Tungsten, though, just writes itself.

crowmanyclouds
03-26-2006, 03:08 AM
...a new "secret" alloy that included gold and copper and some exotic steps to form and temper...Sounds like mokume (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mokume-gane)-gane (http://mokume-gane.com/Pages/Photos/S4.html).

CMC fnord!

matt
03-26-2006, 02:31 PM
I spent some time in Okinawa in the '70s and became friendly with a master sword maker. One evening after a few drinks, he claimed to me that some of the sword makers in Japan had discovered a new "secret" alloy that included gold and copper and some exotic steps to form and temper the sword. He claimed that it was twice as strong as steel that it held a better edge etc.

Somehow he challenged me to bring a regular steel sword to test and so I met him with a really high quality (and expensive) steel sword. After a little coaxing, I took a swing which he parried with his golden sword. My steel sword got cut in two like in some cheesy martial arts flick. "Twice as strong as steel" is achievable, if we're talking about the plain carbon steel used for making a traditional katana. A sword made from maraging steel for example could easily be twice as strong, just as tough, and with a harder edge.

However, I'm a bit skeptical of a decent katana being cut in two. A overly hard, or wrongly heat-treated sword might snap in two, but that's about it.

I'm also a bit skeptical about a gold-based alloy having those mechanical properties. Not sure how swordmakers who have always worked with steel would stumble upon such a thing, whereas jewellers who have always worked with gold remain ignorant of it.

lskinner
03-26-2006, 02:43 PM
Yes I was skeptical too, which is how I ended up having a really nice expensive steel sword sliced in half like a stick of butter and ruined.

Chronos
03-26-2006, 03:44 PM
Also consider that your ceramic-carbon fiber sword is going to be considerably lighter than a steel one; you'd need to install ballast (maybe a tungsten core) to give it heft. In the end, I don't know that it would really be superior to a steel sword.Now, I'm no swordsman, but wouldn'a a lighter-weight sword with the same strength, toughness, etc. be considered an unambiguously good thing? The amount of work you can do with any sword is limited by your own muscles, but a lightweight sword could be moved more quickly to parry, attack, or whatever, and you'd get less tired using it. And carrying it, for that matter: A soldier's gear is heavy, and any way to save weight is welcome.

And if lskinner's secret alloy actually existed, it wouldn't be a secret. Maybe the precise composition or technique might be unknown, but its very existance? Anyone who had such an alloy would be proclaiming it from the rooftops, that his swords (or whatever else might be made from such an alloy) were so much superior to everyone else's. Doubly so if the new alloy involved gold, since gold has mystical significance in many peoples' minds, and it'd justify the presumably absurdly high price the smith would be charging.

matt
03-26-2006, 04:31 PM
Now, I'm no swordsman, but wouldn't a lighter-weight sword with the same strength, toughness, etc. be considered an unambiguously good thing? I think it depends on what it's for. A machete for example won't work as well if you make it too light. Although the ability to make a sword arbitrarily light, and/or locate the centre of gravity whereever you want along the blade, would undoubtedly be useful! With a bit of luck Kinthalis, who is a swordsman, will be along shortly.

Stranger On A Train
03-26-2006, 05:19 PM
Now, I'm no swordsman, but wouldn'a a lighter-weight sword with the same strength, toughness, etc. be considered an unambiguously good thing? The amount of work you can do with any sword is limited by your own muscles, but a lightweight sword could be moved more quickly to parry, attack, or whatever, and you'd get less tired using it. And carrying it, for that matter: A soldier's gear is heavy, and any way to save weight is welcome.I've done a little bit of melee weapon training (though more with the bo and quarterstaff than sword) but while a stabbing weapon doesn't need a lot of heft, a slashing and crushing weapon does, for both attack and parry. Consider this; when someone strikes a heavy broadsword, it adds its own linear and rotational inertia to the wielder's strength, whereas a stiff, lightweight weapon is going to bear more stress upon the wielder's hand and wrist. This is why hardwood staffs are preferred over bamboo for staff weapons.

However, you have to take different styles in hand, too: a claymore doesn't handle like a katana, and despite what you saw in Highlander, you wouldn't go up against a greatsword with one the way Christopher Lambert did; given that large, heavy swords were made to be used by and against opponents wearing heavy armor, a skilled swordsman wielding a comparitavely lightweight katana against an unarmored opponent would have a substantial advantage of speed and agility. Rather than block and parry directly, the tact should be to dodge and slash/stab.

So I guess the answer is that it depends upon your fighting style and protection of your opponent. A lightweight, low-heft sword isn't going to be much good against a well-protected fighter (unless you can thrust in through some valunerabllity) but would have a quickness against a lightly armored foe.

Stranger

Gozu
03-26-2006, 05:27 PM
I've heard many judges are used to bringing titanium weaponry into their courtrooms. Is this true?

Well duh! Those places are often infested with lawyers afterall. And there are some criminals too I guess.

lskinner
03-26-2006, 05:56 PM
You can bet that I tried to convince that guy to market his sword concept but he refused while muttering something about secrecy and honor. Maybe he figured that his sword could be reverse engineered.

LiveOnAPlane
03-27-2006, 01:00 AM
Hmm...all this makes me wonder how good an edge iridium could take? Sure would be a heavy sword, though.

sweeteviljesus
03-27-2006, 09:57 AM
I've heard many judges are used to bringing titanium weaponry into their courtrooms. Is this true?

Beats me. The guy told me he did it to show his boss that metal detectors weren't going to stop weapons in the courtroom and that they needed armed bailiffs. We were discussing this shortly after that guy in Atlanta (?) took a gun off a deputy and escaped after shooting a bunch of people. He wanted to show his boss that you really couldn't stop weapons from getting into the courtroom.

For what it's worth,
Rob

Kinthalis
03-27-2006, 12:00 PM
First I'll tackle some of the comments made thus far on the desirable qualities of a sword.

Weight: Light is good, but you don't want something that is so lacking in heft as to diminish the force of impact required to do proper cutting/thrusting/leveraging work.

I think historical swords already pretty much hit the sweetspot on this. A two-handed medieval longsword weighs in at anywhere between 2.5 to 4 pounds and is well balanced (something just as important as heft). Making it any lighter is probably not a good idea.

Strength: Swords need to be sharp, and stay sharp. They don't need to be razor sharp however. A diamond, razor like edge will net you very little gains in terms of actual real-life performance in battle. Depending on the material this type of edge is also likely to be brittle and require constant and possibly extensive repair. Not a desirable quality on a sword.

Toughness: A sword has got to flex, steel, when properly treated accomplishes this task superbly. A finly made medieval longsword is springy so as to deal with the stresses of combat, and yet stiff enough for proper cuts and thrusts.

Steel really accomplishes all these things in a very good way, when properly treated.

Some other comments:

Medieval swords were not heavy, and they certainly weren't made heavy because of armor. After seeing the preview, I realised the poster was talking about a Claymore from a particular movie, which is not a medieval sword, but a type of renaissance greatsword. I don't know that a lighter weapon would have the advantage considering that a) it's shorter, b) the claymore weighs more, but is still quick and agile enough to be used effectively (otherwise it would not have been used).

Swords cannot cut through other swords. I don't know what the poster who mentioned this experienced, but it was NOT a sword cutting through another sword. Perhaps a poorly made, or flawed sword snapping in half after a serious failure, I don't know. But steel cannot cut through that thickness of steel at the forces we are talking about here "like a knife through butter".

I think we could possibly improve on the historical sword designs of the past, but unless some dream material arises from the science lab, the actual benefits in a real-life scenerio are likely to be very small.

Not only that but it's not like we have battles with swords anymore. In order to have a realistic improvement in this type of weaponry you'd have to get a modern smith knowledgeable in the intricasies of blade geometry, a decent swordsman (and they're hard to come by in this day and age! ;) ), and some smart scientists all working together, to design something that no longer has any military value and would probably be cheaper to make out of steel anyway.

Cluricaun
03-27-2006, 02:42 PM
Sounds like mokume (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mokume-gane)-gane (http://mokume-gane.com/Pages/Photos/S4.html).

CMC fnord!

That right there is what we call bad assed.

lskinner
03-27-2006, 02:49 PM
Swords cannot cut through other swords. I don't know what the poster who mentioned this experienced, but it was NOT a sword cutting through another sword. Perhaps a poorly made, or flawed sword snapping in half after a serious failure, I don't know. But steel cannot cut through that thickness of steel at the forces we are talking about here "like a knife through butter".


Only one of the two swords was steel.

Kinthalis
03-27-2006, 03:02 PM
Only one of the two swords was steel.

Softer alloys used for "decoration purposes" (according to the wikipedia article) also cannot cut through steel.

lskinner
03-27-2006, 04:25 PM
Softer alloys used for "decoration purposes" (according to the wikipedia article) also cannot cut through steel.

The alloy I witnessed was definitely not for decoration purposes.

Kinthalis
03-27-2006, 07:30 PM
The alloy I witnessed was definitely not for decoration purposes.

Well according to the article, it was.

Let me put it this way, you could have had a sword made of diamond. It still won't cut through a steel sword in what would be considered normal use. ok?

lskinner
03-27-2006, 09:41 PM
Well according to the article, it was.

Article? I've never seen any articles about the sword I saw.

Let me put it this way, you could have had a sword made of diamond. It still won't cut through a steel sword in what would be considered normal use. ok?

So a diamond sword is theoretically the best possible sword?

matt
03-28-2006, 02:07 AM
Article? I've never seen any articles about the sword I saw.The article is about the mokune-gane gold-laminates linked to by crowmanyclouds.


So a diamond sword is theoretically the best possible sword? No, but diamond is the hardest material, and will hold an edge better than anything else. If your secret golden alloy was harder than diamond, it would be worth billions as an abrasive and for use in cutting tools and high speed bearings.

It's irrelevant anyway. If a sword was infinitely strong and infinitely sharp, you still couldn't cut through a proper katana with it. Once your infinitely sharp blade has cut an infinitely-narrow nick into the katana, the rest of your infinitely strong blade is acting as wedge trying to force the nick open. The strength of the material or sharpness of the blade doesn't matter at that point - only the properties of the katana itself.

It's quite possible to make a sword from a high-carbon steel all the way through, quench it to maximum hardness and give it a minimal temper, just enough to take out the quenching stresses. Polished up and sharpened, it'll be beautiful, hard as hell, sharp enough to shave with, seriously damaging to anyone you swing it at, and will snap clean through if you hit it against a hard edge. I suspect that's what you were sold.

A true katana is made from at least five different steels with different carbon contents. The high carbon steel is used for the blade edge, but medium-carbon steels are used for the "cheeks" of the blade and the core is low-carbon steel. This makes the blade tough so it won't snap when used in anger - the softer steels can't hold nearly as good an edge, but they can absorb punishment. You can bend a paperclip into a U and straighten it again a few times. Bend a razor blade a fraction and it goes ping.

lskinner
03-28-2006, 07:05 AM
The article is about the mokune-gane gold-laminates linked to by crowmanyclouds.

So what?

[quote] No, but diamond is the hardest material, and will hold an edge better than anything else.

reference?

If your secret golden alloy was harder than diamond, it would be worth billions as an abrasive and for use in cutting tools and high speed bearings.

I don't know if it was harder, I do know that it cut through a steel sword. Is it impossible to cut through diamond with metal?

The strength of the material or sharpness of the blade doesn't matter at that point - only the properties of the katana itself.

So it's impossible to cut through steel? You'll pardon my if I'm just a little skeptical.

Kinthalis
03-28-2006, 07:14 AM
It's not possible to cut through swords. This did not happen historically, it does not happen now, the laws physics say it will NOT happen ever.

Can a blade snap after a serious failure due to stress/metal fatigue. Hecks yeah. Vould it happen just as it makes contact with another blade/piece of armor/cutting material, sure, I've seen it happen myself.

Would I describe such events as "cutting through the steel sword" uhm, no. Not at all. It wouldn't make sense to.

This is the same type of nonsense I hear from people and usually the Katana. They say it was used to cut through gun barrels in WWII, and that it can cut through engine blocks.

Its nonsense, no Katana, no sword in general can defy the laws of physics, they are tools made of metal, and not magical in any way :)

lskinner
03-28-2006, 08:15 AM
It's not possible to cut through swords. This did not happen historically, it does not happen now, the laws physics say it will NOT happen ever.

I have a pair of bolt cutters in my basement that I bought for $20 at Home Depot. Would you care to let me have a go at your best steel sword with them? What if I had industrial grade cutters? So much for the "laws physics."

matt
03-28-2006, 08:25 AM
So what? So nothing. Kinthalis mentioned an article he'd read about gold alloys, and I inferred from your reply that you were confused about what he was talking about. My mistake.

reference?http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Material_properties_of_diamond


I don't know if it was harder, I do know that it cut through a steel sword. Is it impossible to cut through diamond with metal? It's impossible to cut diamond with a metal edge, yes. You cannot scratch, pierce or scrape diamond with a metal edge, however sharp it is - the edge will collapse first. You can cause diamond to cleave, i.e. crack, with metal. In much the same way that you cannot cut glass with a sharpened bit of rubber, but you can break it with the same if you hit it.


So it's impossible to cut through steel? You'll pardon my if I'm just a little skeptical. Of course it's not impossible. You can snip through soft steel with hardened shearing blades such wirecutters and bolt cutters, you can saw through harder steel with hardened saw blades, you can abrade through very hard steel with a grinding disc. What you can't do is cut, as in slice, through a tough steel sword by hand-swinging another sword into it, however strong or sharp that sword is. You may be able to break a brittle steel sword in that way, but not slice through it.

Don't get me wrong, I don't have any problem with two swords meeting and one of them ending up in two pieces - there's a number of ways that could happen, the simplest being that the separated sword was through-hardened and brittle.

I do have a problem with it happening just because one of the swords was super-sharp and super-strong, one sword slicing through the other as if it were paper. Unless your super-sword is no thicker anywhere than its sharp edge, it's not going to become magically easy to cut through another sword.

matt
03-28-2006, 08:31 AM
So what? So nothing. Kinthalis mentioned an article he'd read about gold alloys, and I inferred from your reply that you were confused about what he was talking about. My mistake.

reference?http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Material_properties_of_diamond


I don't know if it was harder, I do know that it cut through a steel sword. Is it impossible to cut through diamond with metal? It's impossible to cut diamond with a metal edge, yes. You cannot scratch, pierce or scrape diamond with a metal edge, however sharp it is - the edge will collapse first. You can cause diamond to cleave, i.e. crack, with metal. In much the same way that you cannot cut glass with a sharpened bit of rubber, but you can break it with the same if you hit it.


So it's impossible to cut through steel? You'll pardon my if I'm just a little skeptical. Of course it's not impossible. You can snip through soft steel with hardened shearing blades such wirecutters and bolt cutters, you can saw through harder steel with hardened saw blades, you can abrade through very hard steel with a grinding disc. What you can't do is cut, as in slice, through a tough steel sword by hand-swinging another sword into it, however strong or sharp that sword is. You may be able to break a brittle steel sword in that way, but not slice through it.

Don't get me wrong, I don't have any problem with two swords meeting and one of them ending up in two pieces - there's a number of ways that could happen, the simplest being that the separated sword was through-hardened and brittle.

I do have a problem with it happening just because one of the swords was super-sharp and super-strong, one sword slicing through the other as if it were paper. Unless your super-sword is no thicker anywhere than its sharp edge, it's not going to become magically easy to cut through another sword.

Operation Ripper
03-28-2006, 12:19 PM
I have a pair of bolt cutters in my basement that I bought for $20 at Home Depot. Would you care to let me have a go at your best steel sword with them? What if I had industrial grade cutters? So much for the "laws physics."

I don't think you are grasping the difference between cutting through and snapping a sword in half.

Operation Ripper
03-28-2006, 12:22 PM
Oops, yeah, what Matt said.

Chronos
03-28-2006, 03:39 PM
Unless your super-sword is no thicker anywhere than its sharp edge, it's not going to become magically easy to cut through another sword.Well, you don't quite need the entire sword to be edge-thin. In principle, one could make a wedge shape with enough mechanical advantage that a human arm swinging it could in fact cut through an arbitrary target. But the mechanical advantage required would be ludicrous, and would in fact result in a sword ridiculously thin at the widest part of the blade (although still slightly thicker than the edge). At a rough estimate, assuming a very strong man and a low tensile-strength steel for the target, the cutting sword could be a maximum of 1/32 of an inch thick or so at its thickest part. Assuming a normal-strength human and a higher tensile strength steel, that estimate could decrease to, say, 1/200 of an inch. So I think it's reasonably safe to say that whatever you saw, it wasn't one sword actually cutting through the other.

Omegaman
03-28-2006, 03:50 PM
Just curious. Is there any high tech material that would do better than steel in a real (ie your life depends on it) one on one sword fight?

I don't think you could hope to have a better material than a sword made from 58-59 hardness on the rockwell scale. Of course the knowledge of how to use one efficiently would be the deciding factor on your life depends on it.

Omegaman
03-28-2006, 03:51 PM
Just curious. Is there any high tech material that would do better than steel in a real (ie your life depends on it) one on one sword fight?

I don't think you could hope to have a better material than a sword made from 58-59 hardness on the rockwell scale. Of course the knowledge of how to use one efficiently would be the deciding factor on your life depends on it. Steel that is.

Una Persson
03-28-2006, 04:28 PM
I have a pair of bolt cutters in my basement that I bought for $20 at Home Depot. Would you care to let me have a go at your best steel sword with them? What if I had industrial grade cutters? So much for the "laws physics."
Look closely at your bolt cutters. Move the handles open and shut, and watch how the mechanism operates. See how the movement of the mechanism increases the force applied on the (bolt, whatever) you are trying to cut through. This will help explain why bolt cutters can cut through things a sword swung by a human being would not.

Necros
03-28-2006, 05:03 PM
...while a titanium weapon might pass though a detector that relies on ferrous content to display magnetic properties it won't pass through airport scanners and the like.
My watch is made out of titanium, as is my wedding band, and I have no problem with leaving either on while going through airport metal detectors. How do airport detectors differ, in what they detect, from ones you might find at, say, a courthouse?

GargoyleWB
03-28-2006, 06:19 PM
Tungsten, though, just writes itself.

Why did wolfram metal get the works? That's nobody's business but the Turks.

lskinner
03-28-2006, 07:07 PM
Look closely at your bolt cutters. Move the handles open and shut, and watch how the mechanism operates. See how the movement of the mechanism increases the force applied on the (bolt, whatever) you are trying to cut through. This will help explain why bolt cutters can cut through things a sword swung by a human being would not.

That may be so, but I was answering back to this claim:

It's not possible to cut through swords. This did not happen historically, it does not happen now, the laws physics say it will NOT happen ever.

A bolt cutter is the most obvious counterexample.

lskinner
03-28-2006, 07:11 PM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Material_properties_of_diamond


I don't see where in the article it says that diamond will hold an edge better than anything else. Can you point it out for me?

lskinner
03-28-2006, 07:27 PM
Well, you don't quite need the entire sword to be edge-thin. In principle, one could make a wedge shape with enough mechanical advantage that a human arm swinging it could in fact cut through an arbitrary target.

But is it just mechanical advantage? A long-handled axe gives very little mechanical advantage (the opposite in fact) but is often very good at cutting through things.

At a rough estimate, assuming a very strong man and a low tensile-strength steel for the target, the cutting sword could be a maximum of 1/32 of an inch thick or so at its thickest part.

I'd be very interested to see your calculations. As I recall, the guy's sword was quite thin.

Una Persson
03-28-2006, 08:24 PM
That may be so, but I was answering back to this claim:

It's not possible to cut through swords. This did not happen historically, it does not happen now, the laws physics say it will NOT happen ever.
A bolt cutter is the most obvious counterexample.
Well shoot, I don't think they meant it was "impossible" to do so with any tool. I've got a wee Dremel that will cut through a sword in about 5 minutes, and an oxy-acetylene torch that will too. The context of the thread was clearly with respect to swordfights and sword-sword impacts. I mean, one can nitpick a statement that wasn't clearly defined as one might want all day long.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Materi...ties_of_diamond

I don't see where in the article it says that diamond will hold an edge better than anything else. Can you point it out for me?
One must look at what constitutes holding an edge. The most important factor to holding an edge for cutting is hardness, the resistance to elastic (and plastic) deformation under stress. And diamonds are certainly among the absolute hardest materials known. However, I'll break from the crowd here and state that toughness (resistance to crack propagation and fracture) is the other key component in holding an edge. When a sword edge is being pounded on against other items, toughness is going to count for how the edge holds together, and I don't know that diamonds are going to be the best thing for that. In fact, I'd say that depending upon the orientation, they could be fairly poor as an edge.

spingears
09-10-2006, 10:49 PM
Just curious. Is there any high tech material that would do better than steel in a real (ie your life depends on it) one on one sword fight?Forged titanium might be a contender.
I read where farmers in Russia are using forged titanium shovels, rakes, hoes.

Titanium Pry Bars & Shovels (http://materials.com/Titanium_tools.HTML) are sold in US.

If titanium is good enough for a pocket knife it should be good for a sword.

Stranger On A Train
09-11-2006, 12:26 AM
Forged titanium might be a contender.If titanium is good enough for a pocket knife it should be good for a sword.While titanium is quite resilient, has a high tensile strength, and is corrosion resistant, it's very soft. Even in alloyed and heat-treated condition it barely matches hardness with the softest of nickel steels, and doesn't come anywhere close to a high vanadium stainless or a high carbon steel that is appropriate for a longblade or sword.

Stranger

drachillix
09-11-2006, 01:37 AM
You can bet that I tried to convince that guy to market his sword concept but he refused while muttering something about secrecy and honor. Maybe he figured that his sword could be reverse engineered.

Around here we usually refer to that as bullshit. Ancient eastern swordmaking techniques unknown to us mere westerners.

As far as your sword getting cut in two, there are people who can do alot of things with technique that you may or may not recognize unless you understand what he is doing and how he is doing it. Your sword might also have not been of quite the quality you thought.

dtilque
09-11-2006, 03:05 AM
I wonder if an amorphous metal alloy, such as those produced by Liquidmetal (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liquidmetal), would produce a superior sword.

Tuckerfan
09-11-2006, 03:27 AM
While titanium is quite resilient, has a high tensile strength, and is corrosion resistant, it's very soft. Even in alloyed and heat-treated condition it barely matches hardness with the softest of nickel steels, and doesn't come anywhere close to a high vanadium stainless or a high carbon steel that is appropriate for a longblade or sword.

Stranger
There's been an earlier thread on this subject (I'm too drunk and tired to search for it) where a titanium sword was discussed and the conclusion was that the lightness of the metal would wind up being a disadvantage in a combat situation.

I think that one could probably come up with a better material than steel for swords (sintered ceramics might be able to do the job), but the cost would be insanely absurd. What good does one sword that can cut through nearly anything do you, when for the same amount of money one can equip an entire army with cheap carbon steel swords?

Oh yeah, zombi thread!

FRDE
09-11-2006, 07:30 AM
I am courteous enough to consider that Iskinner accurately described his experience.

I see no reason why a bronze sword should not appear to be sliced in two by a steel sword.

Note the use of the word 'slice', and that one is combining three factors, weight (impetus is important), sharpness, wedge intrusion and slicing (oops four factors).

I am no expert in sword fighting, but I used to collect old weapons (flogged the lot of to a spiv a few months ago) and I know how to use a sledge hammer, machete or axe - basically it is a missile on a string.

One thing I noted is that curved edged blades combine impact (wedging) with slicing.

If you weight the blade at the far end you get momentum, impact and a slicing effect from centrifugal force (ok negative centripetal for purists).

As a novice, I would weight the end of the sword and taper the width of the blade from thinner at outer extremes to thicker as it gets closer to the hands - basically a saw.

Phillipsan
09-11-2006, 08:57 AM
I spent some time in Okinawa in the '70s and became friendly with a master sword maker. One evening after a few drinks, he claimed to me that some of the sword makers in Japan had discovered a new "secret" alloy that included gold and copper and some exotic steps to form and temper the sword. He claimed that it was twice as strong as steel that it held a better edge etc.

Somehow he challenged me to bring a regular steel sword to test and so I met him with a really high quality (and expensive) steel sword. After a little coaxing, I took a swing which he parried with his golden sword. My steel sword got cut in two like in some cheesy martial arts flick.

Presumably you were both extremely drunk at the time? I'm just kidding, though only halfway. What happened to the piece of your sword which went winging off into space? I hope it didn't cut through your hosts fusuma doors or land on his cat.

I make the drunk comment since your host acted highly irresponsibly if he knew your sword would "get cut into" as you say, and yet was wiling to demonstrate the superiority of his own "golden sword" in actual simulated combat (and not, say fixing your blade in a stationary place).

A shame about your expensive blade, by the way. I hope it was an antique/art object or it was illegal in Okinawa.

Kinthalis
09-11-2006, 12:29 PM
I am courteous enough to consider that Iskinner accurately described his experience.


What on earth does being corteous have to do with it?

I'll reiterate my point: At the forces and angles you are dealing with in an actual sword fight "cutting", "slicing", what have you, through another sword blade is NOT going to happen.

When dealing with an incoming blow there are many options available, of those that bring the sword into contact with the other a few should result in damage to the blade and none would actually result in sliced blade.

The swords will likely meet (in a bind) in one of four ways. Edge to flat, flat to flat, edge to edge (but only at the forte and not at a 90 degree angle but at a much gentler angle of attack and in a way so as to redirect the force rather than receive it full on -a solid block- as you see done in the movies).

Every bind has the potential to cause damage to the sword blade from a surface scratch to a deep nick. But I don't care how strong you are you are not going to cut through your opponent's blade. It won't happen should the weapons meet flat to flat. If they should meet edge to flat the worse that will happen is a broken blade should it suffer a catastrophic failure. A bind that meets edge on edge might cause a nick depending on how it was carried out (properly or improperly), but again, the force required to SLICE through the other blade cannot be generated by a human being, just as important is the fact that the weapon receiving the blow will YIELD dissipating most of the energy anyway.

This is the same reason why we disregard such experiments as swords cutting into pieces of armor that have been bolted down to the ground. The test is unrealistic because the armor piece cannot yield to the blow as it would if it were on a person.

Elendil's Heir
09-11-2006, 01:49 PM
...If you wanted to be really silly, I suppose you could hypothesize some kind of long-chain muon (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muon)-bound elements which are likely to be extremely strongly bound relative to their electron-based chemistry counterparts, but since muons decay after a 2.2 microsecond lifespan, you're left with having to cart around some kind of particle accelerator that will continuously create and siphon out muons to replunish those which are lost....

Stranger

Hmmm. Would that look something like this? http://starwarsmaniatic.webcindario.com/Luke%20Skywalker.jpg

js_africanus
09-11-2006, 03:21 PM
ArchitectChore, can I see if I'm understanding your übersword correctly?

The sword's body would be epoxy resin with carbon fibers & carbon nanotubes going lengthwise through the sword. The epoxy resin provided the compressive strength, while the carbon fibers & tubes provide the tensile strength, so that we've got something like a beam. The epoxy resin will have to have certain properties, and the carbon fibers can't be such that they'll break in situ (if that's the right term).

The blade is made of industrial diamonds; however, based on some other comments, diamonds may not actually be best.

Is my understanding of what you wrote in the ballpark?

Thanks!

psychonaut
09-11-2006, 07:25 PM
IIRC, Aztec warriors were equipped with obsidian swords. I believe obsidian can be sharper than steel, so in that sense they may have been "superior".

Scissorjack
09-11-2006, 11:29 PM
IIRC, Aztec warriors were equipped with obsidian swords. I believe obsidian can be sharper than steel, so in that sense they may have been "superior".

Wood edged with obsidian chips. Sharp and heavy, but too brittle.

Elendil's Heir
09-12-2006, 01:51 PM
They did pretty poorly against the conquistadores' Toledo steel blades, too.

Scissorjack
09-12-2006, 07:06 PM
They did pretty poorly against the conquistadores' Toledo steel blades, too.

Plus the Spaniards had the advantage of swinging downwards from a ton of galloping horse against men wearing quilted armour, which added a good deal of juice against minimal protection: the conquistadors could probably have wielded cricket bats and still had the tactical advantage. Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs And Steel {or Gary Jennings' Aztec, for a well-researched fictional account} provides an excellent summary of why the Aztecs lost.

HMS Irruncible
09-12-2006, 07:38 PM
There was another thread a while back where we talked about whether a samurai could kick a crusader's ass. In that thread it was fairly well settled that katanas, being made of folded metal, were made for slicing and not striking, and would tend to break if used against the sturdier European weapons when used in the European fighting style (with a lot of parrying and blade-on-blade impact).

So it stands to reason that if you made a katana more solid than the norm, then it could break another katana on parrying. And then if you wanted to take a bit of artistic license you could say it "sliced it like a stick of butter". And then if you wanted to be a bit of a wanker, you could act as if somebody were a liar because they said "sliced" instead of "broke."

crowmanyclouds
09-13-2006, 08:33 AM
Wood edged with obsidian chips. Sharp and heavy, but too brittle.Macuahuitl. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macahuitl)

CMC fnord!

Kinthalis
09-13-2006, 09:52 AM
There was another thread a while back where we talked about whether a samurai could kick a crusader's ass. In that thread it was fairly well settled that katanas, being made of folded metal, were made for slicing and not striking,

First of all, the fact that Katana's are folded has absolutely nothing to do with their specialization as cutting (slicing if you will) weapons. Folding metal was done to hemogenize the impurities in the steel, a necessary step in Japan due to their poor quality iron. Similar methods (pattern welding for example) were employed in Europe during the migration era but were not used later as improvements in manufacturing of steels made the techniques a waste of time. Regardless, the function of the weapon will have a lot more to do with the design and geometry of the blade and hilt than with it's material makeup.


and would tend to break if used against the sturdier European weapons when used in the European fighting style (with a lot of parrying and blade-on-blade impact).


As opposed to what? Standing there and getting hit? When someone swigs a sword at you there are only so many basic things you can do (when you get down to technique the possibilities are many, but there are only a few basic methods) to deal with the problem. You can parry and redirect the force of the blow away from it's intended target. You can evade the blow with good footwork. You can prevent the blow by out-timing your opponent.

I'd wager good money that both European and Asian martial arts would have very near the same emphasis on each of these tactical options.


So it stands to reason that if you made a katana more solid than the norm, then it could break another katana on parrying.


What does "more solid than the norm" mean? If anything harder would mean more brittle and IT would be more likely to break than a sword made of softer steel.


And then if you wanted to take a bit of artistic license you could say it "sliced it like a stick of butter". And then if you wanted to be a bit of a wanker, you could act as if somebody were a liar because they said "sliced" instead of "broke."

Except that when asked to clarifiy the poster stuck to his bit of poetic license portraying as accurate fact.

ryobserver
09-13-2006, 09:12 PM
If anyone's still interested, the Mythbusters special tonight is supposed to tackle, inter alia, the question of whether a sword can cut another sword.

Elendil's Heir
09-14-2006, 09:34 AM
...[see] Gary Jennings' Aztec, for a well-researched fictional account... [for] an excellent summary of why the Aztecs lost.

Hell, yeah! One of my favorite historical novels. Good, good stuff.

Elendil's Heir
09-14-2006, 09:35 AM
If anyone's still interested, the Mythbusters special tonight is supposed to tackle, inter alia, the question of whether a sword can cut another sword.

Excalibur can. I saw it in that John Boorman documentary. :D

Ins&Outs&What-have-yous
09-14-2006, 10:39 AM
ArchitectChore, can I see if I'm understanding your übersword correctly?For future reference, I cannot promise that I will always respond to a question asked about a post I made 6 months earlier.

Upon glancing over my post, it looks as if you discern it correctly. My post was just a quick (too quick in retrospect) somewhat wild assed guess. Much research, calculations, and material testing and prototype testing would need to be performed in order to begin optimizing the sword.

The blade is made of industrial diamonds; however, based on some other comments, diamonds may not actually be best. I am well educated in materials science but not in sword dynamics.

I suspect that most or all epoxy resins may be too brittle, but I'm not certain since I don't know the sword specs such as bending modulus and whatnot. Also, carbon fibers do not especially hold up well to heavy dynamic forces. Perhaps, Kevlar® fibers would work better.

Diamonds are well-suited for heavy abrasive applications, but not heavy dynamics. Assuming the user isn't trying to saw through armor, a diamond-tipped blade probably doesn't provide any noticeable advantage over - say - a tungsten carbide tipped blade. Though, both are likely too brittle for the application.

I can only speculate, but the most superior material for a sword may be a carbon nanotube reinforced (high strength and high modulus) metal matrix. A good fiber/nanotube reinforced plastic provides a better specific strength/mod, but probably isn't best for the sword application due to the dynamics involved.

-AC

Scissorjack
09-14-2006, 05:17 PM
Macuahuitl. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macahuitl)

CMC fnord!

Gesundheit.

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