What is powder steel and why does Zero Tolerance use it?

Many, though not all, Zero Tolerance blades are made of powder steel. To understand the benefits of powder steel and why ZT chooses it, you need to understand a little bit about the process.

As you may know, steel is an alloy of iron and carbon; that is, the atoms of one element occupy the spaces between the atoms of the other so that the materials are inextricably joined. Most steel also has other elements alloyed in it that enhance specific characteristics—such as stain resistance or toughness.

To make the powder steel used by Zero Tolerance, our steel suppliers, including Crucible Industries and Uddeholm, first formulate the alloy to their specifications. Then the molten metal is atomized. To do this, it is poured through a nozzle where high-pressure gas turns the liquid into a fine spray of tiny, perfectly round droplets. These solidify into powder particles that are extremely uniform in size and have a very consistent microstructure.

The powder is vacuum-sealed in steel cans and exposed to the precise amount of pressure and temperature to compact the powder into dense steel. Then the steel is milled and processed as usual.

Because this process is very clean, there are virtually no inclusions in the steel that the steelmaker did not intend. It produces very high-quality steel with superior dimensional stability, grind-ability, and toughness. What’s more, the extra-fine carbides in the steel enable us to make a blade that takes a fine edge and provides superior edge retention.

The specific steel alloys provide additional benefits. For example, the chemistry of Crucible’s S30V promotes the formation of vanadium carbides for improved wear resistance and toughness. The ELMAX® formula, which is a high chromium-vanadium-molybdenum alloy, offers both high wear resistance and corrosion resistance—two qualities not generally found in the same steel.

The premium quality of powder steel enables Zero Tolerance to make premium-quality blades and provide you with the hard-use, high-quality products you demand.

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