A prototype is a preliminary model of something. Projects that offer physical products need to show backers documentation of a working prototype. This gallery features photos, videos, and other visual documentation that will give backers a sense of what’s been accomplished so far and what’s left to do. Though the development process can vary for each project, these are the stages we typically see:
Proof of Concept
Explorations that test ideas and functionality.
Demonstrates the functionality of the final product, but looks different.
Looks like the final product, but is not functional.
Appearance and function match the final product, but is made with different manufacturing methods.
Appearance, function, and manufacturing methods match the final product.
Starting with an existing utility blade design the intent was to make it as small and light as possible. Pre-Production prototypes with a ceramic blade actually weigh less than 3 pennies or 6.5 gms. Length was determined by blade size and thickness of this cutting tool measures 3.5 mm. The blade needs to be held so that it would not accidentally become exposed, and ideally should be adjustable in terms of the length of blade opened for cutting.
I have been involved with the design and production of ceramic blades and knives for the past five years before passing the company into younger hands. It is exciting to design unique and expensive knives and when selling price is not important this is a relatively simple task. It has been much more difficult to create a low cost practical knife using a ceramic blade.
The design and production of an inexpensive practical knife that could introduce the benefits of a ceramic blade to the general public has been a two year process. I did try to use bronze, titanium and carbon fiber, all non-corrosive materials, but these materials were not compatible with my design requirements of simple, durable and inexpensive construction. Precise metal forming or even extrusion molding could not maintain the required blade tension. 3D printing models were extensively used in developing parameters for an injection molding process where appropriate plastics could be used. It turned out that a two part molding process with ultrasonic welding could meet tolerances and durability in use. A set of production molds have been been created and used to determine appropriate materials and process temperatures. I have received pre-production samples which have met expectations.
Now it is time to push the button for a production run and introduce a practical ceramic knife for every day carry and use.
Why a ceramic utility blade
The trapezoidal utility blade is one of the most commonly used blades in the world. In North America it is estimated that 40% of all homes have one or more blades and over 60% of businesses use them. Obviously a micro ceramic knife cannot serve in all general purpose tasks due to size and the brittleness of the super hard blade. The long lasting sharpness of a ceramic blade and 100% corrosion resistance does make this a better tool over time for small tasks and exposure to moisture. A ceramic edge will not curl as a steel edge will when cutting tough material such as kevlar or the new ultra high density polyethylene ropes and lines now in use. The overall size and lightness makes it possible to have the micro knife available where a full sized utility knife would not.
With a razor sharp long lasting edge this tool will handle small tasks and opening endless packages and surprisingly large jobs with a bit of time and effort. Light and small enough for women to carry everyday.
Fishermen, sailors, hikers, campers, bikers or anyone that gets wet will appreciate the practicality of a non-corrosive blade. A first aid kit, tackle box or survival kit will have a sharp cutting tool even if exposed to salt water for 20 years.
If you carry a wallet/purse, backpack, keys, or have a pocket in clothing the micro cutting tool can be safely carried and ready for use.
Since I am in Canada most of my backers are in other countries, there is some question about valuation for DUTY on "REWARDS" but in shipping up to three microknives I will be using first class mail WITHOUT any customs declaration. The package/letter is under 5mm (1/4") and thus meets international standards for regular mail shipping. Hopefully this will result in savings for the vast majority of backers.
1. The ceramic blade is the same size as the universally used Stanley blades with the exception that it is slightly thicker. (.8mm compared with .6mm for steel blades) Yes a steel utility blade will fit.
2. Testing has shown that in cutting abrasive materials such as cardboard the ceramic blade will retain it’s edge about 20 times longer.
3. The Zirconium Dioxide ceramic blade will cut Kevlar, and other tough materials such as the new “super ropes” and fishing lines better than steel as the edge does not curl and create burrs like steel blades.
4. The ceramic micro knife body is injection molded in two parts. These are electrosonic welded to create the proper tension to hold blade in place during carry but permits in and out movement through thumb pressure. (We tried but were unsuccessful in creating a holder of bronze or titanium materials as the correct tension and
sliding resistance could not be controlled.)
5. Weight of tool with ceramic blade is 6.5 gms or .23 oz (= 3 pennies)
6. Thickness is 3.5 mm. under ¼”
7. Total length 2.5” with ceramic blade inside.
Ways to Carry the BacKnife
Opening Blade and Holding knife
While it seems obvious to me, someone is not going to understand how to force the blade forward out of the holder. It may be stiff the first few times the tool is used due to the small detent on top, It will become less tight with opening & closing a few times. OR gently push up on the catch a bit to loosen it. The blade is alway held in place by tension from the sides of the channel. Placing your thumb at the upper back of the blade (not sharp) you can apply forwards pressure to move the blade out of the handle. OF course the handle needs to be held with other hand at the back, or forefinger at top front of handle to keep it from moving. The easiest way to hold the handle in place is to use a string or lanyard connected to the hole in back. The lanyard can be held in other hand, or looped around little finger, or gripped between fingers & palm. This does become simple and obvious after some practice.
This micro knife is too small to hold the way you would a full sized knife. Using a pinch grip, thumb and forefingers on opposite sides exerts extra tension on the blade so that it will not pull out when cutting things.
Very little force in the pinch is needed to hold blade in open position.
I am 72 years old with minor arthritis & no problem with grip.
In addition to the tension on sides, once the blade starts cutting that force will make the blade try to tip upwards inside the channel and this again helps to hold the blade inside the holder. Same principle as holding a pen or scalpel blade the pinch grip provides the best fine control of the blade. Even with large chef's knives the preferred grip is to have thumb and forefinger on blade just in front of the handle.
Risks and challenges
The ceramic stanley style blades have been produced for more than five years now so there are no surprises there. The optimum Zirconium Dioxide mix, sintering process and sharpening has been refined.
A initial test run has been made of the holders and have all met our expectations in terms of fit with the blade and durability under general day to day use. Before the production run we will have to again check the molding performance but do not anticipate any surprises.
Of course, shipping can be complicated if demand far exceeds our expectations but since we will be shipping from Canada and/or USA there should not be any major problems.