Many sharp utensils, including knives, scalpels, and razors, are made of stainless steel, which is often covered with an additional coating that is designed to keep them as sharp as possible. While some of them can be sharpened again and again, razors are replaced on a regular basis.
A team of researchers at MIT wanted to learn why razors become dull after a few uses. By taking a close look at the shaving process, they observed that the razor could be damaged as it cuts the human hair, despite the fact that it is up to 50 times than the blade itself.
Cracking the blade
The results are quite surprising as a single strand of hair can chip the edge of a blade in certain situations. Once a vulnerability appears in the form of the initial crack, more damage will appear in time, and the edge will become dull at a fast pace.
Blades will have a tendency to become dull at a faster pace if the microstructure of the steel isn’t completely uniform. The approach angle and presence of other defects in the structure of the blade can also favor the appearance of cracks.
Solving the mystery
During the initial stages of the study, one of the researchers shaved his beard with the help of disposable razors. Once the task was completed, the razors were scanned with an electron microscope, showing how the blade was affected by use in time.
While there was little to no wear on the sharp edge, chips appeared along select regions of the razor’s edge. A small device was created with the aim of conducting controlled shaving experiments. The device was placed inside an electron microscope and offered high-resolution images.
A provisional patent has been filled as the team also created a process that can be used to enhance the structure of the blade.