American Cutting Edge of Centerville, Ohio is a leading industrial razor blade and knife supplier for various manufacturing needs. They specialize in industrial machine knife manufacturing and supply both custom and stock blades.
"In my world, a blade coating offers life extension, and that offers a whole new level of customer service for my customers," says Erin Belangia-Sanchez, product manager for Food Processing, Packaging, and Flooring Divisions at American Cutting Edge. "SurfTech is an arrow in my quiver of solutions."
Belangia-Sanchez prefers to coat the industrial knives and blades she sells with SurfTech coatings.
"SurfTech even went and developed a food-safe coating for us. If we are going to get a coating in the door at a food processor, it has to be FDA approved. The guys at SurfTech jumped through many hoops to get an FDA approved coating."
Sharp Blades, Quality Coating
SurfTech's coatings can be applied in such a way that the original blade's sharpness is not compromised.
Not only can SurfTech apply coatings at temperatures below all known annealing temperatures (below 200°F), but they can also do so without biasing the part to be coated.
Most traditional physical vapor disposition (PVD) systems will bias the part to be coated. Bias is when the part is electrified to attract the molecules of the coating. The bias creates a rounded, teardrop effect on the cutting edge, affecting product quality. Most PVD coating houses have to fan the sharp edge, overcoat it, and then regrind it back to sharpness. This re-sharpening increases the chances that blade's original geometry will be affected.
SurfTech's process avoids all that because their coatings are applied without bias or high heat. The blade doesn't ball at the sharpened edge, so there's no post processing or edge prep needed. You get back what you gave them.
Increasing Cuts from 200K to Almost a Million
An American Cutting Edge customer had a problem that many production lines have probably experienced. Marketing decided to change the coloring of the labels being cut on this particular production line. Unbeknownst to the marketing department, the addition of WHITE ink would cut the life of their packaging knives by less than half. White ink applied to a PET film contains large amounts of titanium to achieve the brilliance of the color. Titanium is a very abrasive material. Immediately, when knife life decreases, your cost per cut increases!
The $50 a knife used to cut the white-inked PET film suddenly had to be replaced five times as often.
This customer was receiving only 200,000 cuts on the knife, which was made with a D2 metal. D2 is a common material that works well in a multitude of applications. At the advice of American Cutting Edge, the client agreed to a material upgrade of M2 metal. M2’s chemical composition offers better wear capabilities in some applications than D2.
The upgrade to the material of the knife offered the customer 500,000 cuts. The increase in material strength gave them about two times the life.
In addition, Erin offered the customer a coating compliment to the upgraded material: SurfTech 4253. SurfTech 4253 is a multilayer coating which fuses together the ultra-hard coating boron carbide with lubricious moly disulfide.
The upgraded material in combination with the new coating increased the cuts to just under one million cuts. With the expertise of both American Cutting Edge and Surftech, this customer saw a life extension of about 5x their old knives. With that type of customer service and expertise, the sky is the limit!
More Than Just Coatings
Belangia-Sanchez recalls a recent challenge that was solved by SurfTech. "I was working on a project for a food manufacturer/bottler. I needed this customer’s knives to be cut down, glued, welded, or bonded together, and then I needed them coated. I have Asian manufacturers in my supply chain. I was going to have to explain to someone in Asia this entire process, which can be daunting with the translation and trial and error that would have needed to take place"
With the attention to detail and face-to-face communications, SurfTech understood exactly what Erin and her client were trying to accomplish. Today, American Cutting Edge simply sends SurfTech the blanks and SurfTech cuts the knives down to proper size, offsets the teeth to the desired pattern, and then bonds and coats them.
"They care about the details and what is important to our customer," said Belangia-Sanchez. "That kind of customer service is why I keep using them. Why I keep introducing them to other product managers with other knives and other coatings."