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Thread: Geek #2, this time about powder steel

  1. #1

    Geek #2, this time about powder steel


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    we all have a fairly good idea of how powder steel is made (simply sinter-weld a powdered mixture of metals and carbides of your choice) and what advantage(s) they give (it allows for mixes and combinations not possible in a melting furnace.) now my question: CAN YOU MAKE YOUR OWN POWDER STEEL FROM A FORGE?

    damascus is basically rough sinter-welding, though it involves sheets of different steels, not powders. but introducing some powdered this and powdered that into your forging/folding process seems easy enough. probably trickier is determining the right amount of powdered substances to add and layering the whole thing very finely to space the particles satisfactorily. thoughts?

  2. #2
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    It's not as simple as you're making it sound.

    Making particle-metallurgy steel from scratch at home would be mind-numbingly expensive, time consuming and wasteful. It's not just a matter of getting the correct ratios of elements. Assuming that one could achieve the even distribution of elements and carbides, which is doubtful, and the whole point of the process, it would still be massively inefficient on a small scale. There's a reason the mills run it by the tons, and why it costs as much as it does - mainly waste and energy.

    Some bladesmiths do make damascus by filling a mild steel container with bits of known steel and filling in all the gaps with powdered 1084 or 1095 (for instance). They then forge-weld the whole thing together, grind off the outside (the container) and proceed as usual with the resulting billet. But that's not a true "powder steel".
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  3. #3
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    The problem with powder steel is also that is has to happen in an oxygen-less enviroment. Because powder will burn up when oxygen is present at high temperatures.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by hank_rearden View Post
    CAN YOU MAKE YOUR OWN POWDER STEEL FROM A FORGE?

    damascus is basically rough sinter-welding, though it involves sheets of different steels, not powders. but introducing some powdered this and powdered that into your forging/folding process seems easy enough. probably trickier is determining the right amount of powdered substances to add and layering the whole thing very finely to space the particles satisfactorily. thoughts?
    I guess it's too tricky to do outside of large industrial processes.
    However, there is a readymade damascus powdersteel availible in round bars, for the handforged knife.
    You have probably heard of Damasteel.
    Mostly it is sold as billets for grinding, but the round bar is for the forged blade.
    The powdermetals are RWL34 and PMC27 and both those steels are stainless.

    Regards

    Mikael

  5. #5
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    hold on there. My understanding is that each particle in the powder has the same composition. It is not like you can throw iron powder with chromium powder, tungsten powder, vanadium powder etc together. The way this process works is that the alloy is melted and homogenized then the liquid steel is forced through a nozzle and a spray of powder develops. this powder is then HIPed (hot isostatic press) which involves heat and lots of pressure.

  6. #6
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    Half of the problem is atomizing the steel to form the powder.

    The rest of the problem is coming up with enough heat and pressure to recombine it into steel.


    Making traditional steel is a piece of cake in comparison.




    Big Mike

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