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Of the Revolutions of Razor Blades

I find the best way to select any shaving product is to see what the knowledgeable members of Badger and Blade say, look to see if there is a consensus among brethren who seem to like the things you like, and try it for yourself. If it a consumable, in case it disappoints, you ought to take that first foray in small quantities. If it hardware that fails to do what you had hoped for, this is a great place to pay it forward or sell it. I do not care what someone inside a factory says. I do care what knowledgeable users say.
 
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I read this thread when it was initially posted and admit the OP’s follow up posts were quite confrontational and see why the Mods removed them. What I’m curious about is his post the Mods removed that had the Russian article he got his information from that was allegedly from an employee at the St Petersburg plant. I didn’t read it or click on it initially as it was late and had planned on coming back to see if I could use translate to see what the article said but it’s gone now.

Mods, any chance we can have the post with just the article the OP was referencing? That may prove this to be complete BS or give us some clarification, maybe lost in translation or misinterpretation of what was said in the article
I can put the text of the article here, but the original link he placed has two problems.
1. It's in Russian
2. It's a link to another shaving blog.
I will translate and post the text here, but be aware that what that means is that an already dubious claim cannot be vetted as it is not in its original format.
Give me a little time and I'll post it.
 
This is the translated from Russian version of what was posted.

Reversible shaving blades​

I read a lot of reviews on different shaving blades. Very often I met with the opinion that these blades are good, but these are the misfortunes and you cannot buy them. I will reveal a little the secret of the types of blades and how they differ. There will be no specifics, there is the concept of "commercial secret". I will not show a photo of the equipment either.

So, all blades are divided into three types. Unchrome plated, chrome plated and platinum plated chrome. Accordingly, their price is different, incrementally. All, absolutely all blades are made on the same equipment, from the same steel, with the same technological parameters. The quality requirements for all blades are the same, no exceptions. That is, the "Sputnik" and "Gillette" blades are exactly the same, except for the coating.
1.jpg

It all starts with a raw tape, which is formed by a press into blanks for future blades. But it is "soft" (raw) and you won't even be able to sharpen it
2.jpg

The perforated tape is heat treated. Gets "stiff" and ready to be sharpened.
Then a marking is applied to the tape, the name of the brand of the blades. At this moment, different inscriptions can be applied to one batch of tape, which will determine their further processing.
The entire belt goes to the sharpening machine. Different brands of blades are sharpened on the same equipment with the same parameters. After sharpening, the machine cuts the tape into separate blades.
3.jpg

At this stage, there is a constant quality control. Various microscopes, calibers, etc. are used.
4.png
Then the blades are washed from dirt. And here comes the turning point in the fate of our little friends. Some of them are sprayed with a chrome coating, which ensures the longevity of the cutting edge. And more budget products will bypass this procedure.
All of the blades then go on to apply a polymer coating to the edge for a soft shave.
There is quality control at all stages of production. Product tolerances are minimal and are the same for all brands of blades. I can say with pride that the quality is higher than that of our competitors, which is proved by shaving tests :)
Then the blades are packed and sent to stores.
There is a difference between the blades, but on the first and even the third or fourth shaves it is not realistic to feel it. I think a more psychological factor is at work here.

A bit crumpled and without specifics, but unfortunately I can't do it any other way. If you have any questions, I will try to answer. Don't even ask the numbers, I won't tell you.
 
Gillette produces only 3 types of razor blades in St. Petersburg under different names:
1. Non-chrome blades: Sputnik, Astra Stainless, 7 O'Clock Stainless, Gillette Nacet.
2. Chrome blades: Astra Platinum, Polsilver, Super Iridium, Gillette Silver Blue, 7 O'Clock Sharp Edge, Perma-Sharp, Gillette Platinum.
3. Chrome-platinum blades : Gillette Rubie Platinum, Gillette Minora, Gillette Platinum with an arrow.
Different brands are recognized in different countries, for example the manufacturer's name Wizamet and brands Polsilver and Super Iridium come from Poland, and Astra from the former Czechoslovakia.
So it's time to understand that Astra Stainless is Nacet with a different name, and Astra Platinum and Polsilver are Gillette Platinum with a different name, and, contrary to the name, they are not platinum or iridium coated, as originally. P&G is just lying to customers by preying on their habits. The razor blades have some kind of coating if it is so literally written on the package, and a single word suggesting a coating is only a misleading, deceptive name.
If you feel any differences between the same blades with different names, it is because they are all made of the same steel from 3 different manufacturers. It does not change the fact that all St. Petersburg razor blades are the same product in three variants of the coating.
Since internet influencers specialize in duplicating untested, untrue or sponsored information, It would be worth to know, so that viewers do not buy products unavailable in their countries at excessive prices. There is no point in making comparisons between Super Iridium and Polsilver. One after the other, Youtubers specialize in duplicating false information.

Thanks for putting it so clearly. Only someone who never even opened a marketing book of any kind could think Gillette puts on the market 40+ different blades with real different specifications.
 
Thank you @luvmysuper for translating and posting that. That was helpful for me. I didn’t take that the same as the OP that every blade in each of the three categories are the exact same blade, therefore they only have 3 different blades in dozens of different packages and names. Do I think they have a completely different blade for each different package, not likely.
 
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Companies often contract out factories to make their product. These factories will produce many brands of whatever widget they make and the specifications are determined by the contracting company and whatever rules and regulations governing the product dictate. At the base of the process they are all the same but details matter, and cost money. This is why the law of diminishing returns is always a factor in any widget. They start the same, and at the upper levels they are all great and nearly indistinguishable, it is the middle where a small difference can be very noticeable both in price and performance.

Look to the contract beer brewery industry for a perfect example. The same brewery uses the same process and equipment to make several beers for different brands. The difference is in the recipe and maybe a minor tweak to the process or equipment and the variation can be huge.
 
Companies often contract out factories to make their product. These factories will produce many brands of whatever widget they make and the specifications are determined by the contracting company and whatever rules and regulations governing the product dictate. At the base of the process they are all the same but details matter, and cost money. This is why the law of diminishing returns is always a factor in any widget. They start the same, and at the upper levels they are all great and nearly indistinguishable, it is the middle where a small difference can be very noticeable both in price and performance.

Look to the contract beer brewery industry for a perfect example. The same brewery uses the same process and equipment to make several beers for different brands. The difference is in the recipe and maybe a minor tweak to the process or equipment and the variation can be huge.

The problem is that here Gillette is producing for themselves. There is no Astra company. There is no Nacet company. There is no Sputnik company.

Ok, it's different when some third party manufactures things for other, separate reselling companies. Third party manufacturing for example is big in the food industry here in Italy. Dozens of actual manufacturers make things for dozens of resellers, and it's all interwoven as hell. But in the blades market it's different. Gillette would be crazy to have 40+ different specifications for a product category as tame as DE blades.
 
This is the translated from Russian version of what was posted.

Reversible shaving blades​

I read a lot of reviews on different shaving blades. Very often I met with the opinion that these blades are good, but these are the misfortunes and you cannot buy them. I will reveal a little the secret of the types of blades and how they differ. There will be no specifics, there is the concept of "commercial secret". I will not show a photo of the equipment either.

So, all blades are divided into three types. Unchrome plated, chrome plated and platinum plated chrome. Accordingly, their price is different, incrementally. All, absolutely all blades are made on the same equipment, from the same steel, with the same technological parameters. The quality requirements for all blades are the same, no exceptions. That is, the "Sputnik" and "Gillette" blades are exactly the same, except for the coating.
View attachment 1341654

It all starts with a raw tape, which is formed by a press into blanks for future blades. But it is "soft" (raw) and you won't even be able to sharpen it
View attachment 1341655

The perforated tape is heat treated. Gets "stiff" and ready to be sharpened.
Then a marking is applied to the tape, the name of the brand of the blades. At this moment, different inscriptions can be applied to one batch of tape, which will determine their further processing.
The entire belt goes to the sharpening machine. Different brands of blades are sharpened on the same equipment with the same parameters. After sharpening, the machine cuts the tape into separate blades.
View attachment 1341656

At this stage, there is a constant quality control. Various microscopes, calibers, etc. are used.
View attachment 1341657
Then the blades are washed from dirt. And here comes the turning point in the fate of our little friends. Some of them are sprayed with a chrome coating, which ensures the longevity of the cutting edge. And more budget products will bypass this procedure.
All of the blades then go on to apply a polymer coating to the edge for a soft shave.
There is quality control at all stages of production. Product tolerances are minimal and are the same for all brands of blades. I can say with pride that the quality is higher than that of our competitors, which is proved by shaving tests :)
Then the blades are packed and sent to stores.
There is a difference between the blades, but on the first and even the third or fourth shaves it is not realistic to feel it. I think a more psychological factor is at work here.

A bit crumpled and without specifics, but unfortunately I can't do it any other way. If you have any questions, I will try to answer. Don't even ask the numbers, I won't tell you.
Thanks for translating this but, and I mean absolutely no disrespect to you, I think I learned more from the How It's Made episode on DE blades. The part at the end where the article states that different blades have different coatings, with the less expensive ones perhaps being coated, stands to reason. I took the OP to mean that the factories were literally just putting the same blade in different wrappers which is not really the case. Are there cases where the same blade is marketed differently and thus packaged differently, yes, of course. There can't be that much variation in blade production to have hundreds of different types.
 
Personally speaking, I don't much care if all blades are made in the same factory or not. I don't care if all blades have the same essential specifications in the early manufacturing process.
I know that some of the blades mentioned give me a good shave, and some do not. I know, full well, that there are differences.
Is the difference because of the polymer coating? Is the difference because of the chroming? Is the difference because of the heat treat? Is the difference because of some other unknown and unreported process the author was not aware of?
I'm like the guy who was asked if he was ignorant or just apathetic - he replied
I don't know, and I don't care.
I know that there are differences, and I'll stick with the ones that work well for me.
 
Personally speaking, I don't much care if all blades are made in the same factory or not. I don't care if all blades have the same essential specifications in the early manufacturing process.
I know that some of the blades mentioned give me a good shave, and some do not. I know, full well, that there are differences.
Is the difference because of the polymer coating? Is the difference because of the chroming? Is the difference because of the heat treat? Is the difference because of some other unknown and unreported process the author was not aware of?
I'm like the guy who was asked if he was ignorant or just apathetic - he replied
I don't know, and I don't care.
I know that there are differences, and I'll stick with the ones that work well for me.
Ok but magical thinking is not what brought civilization to where it's now.
 
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Thanks for translating this but, and I mean absolutely no disrespect to you, I think I learned more from the How It's Made episode on DE blades. The part at the end where the article states that different blades have different coatings, with the less expensive ones perhaps being coated, stands to reason. I took the OP to mean that the factories were literally just putting the same blade in different wrappers which is not really the case. Are there cases where the same blade is marketed differently and thus packaged differently, yes, of course. There can't be that much variation in blade production to have hundreds of different types.
None taken. I didn't write that, I don't endorse that, and I personally think it's a bunch of hooey.
I only put it here because I was specifically asked to.
Some unknown, unnamed "factory" worker, (we don't know if he's a janitor or a vice president) makes an oddball claim that he cannot reveal any details on and he's supposed to be taken at face value?
I'm not saying that everything he said is completely wrong, but I have no compelling reason to believe that anything he said was right.
 
Ok but magical thinking is not what brought civilization to where it's now.
This is not solving world hunger or changing global climates. It's razor blades that cost pennies made in a Russian factory.
It's not magical thinking. As I am unable to go and watch the process to verify if the fairy tale this fellow posted is true or not, I'm happy with just being happy with the product that I buy.
I seldom sit for hours and dote on the toothpick I use at the end of dinner.
 
I seldom sit for hours and dote on the toothpick I use at the end of dinner.
Actually, we all are on the same line! I think that was OP's point, that it's useless to bash our heads trying to understand which is Gillette's best blade from their big plant in Russia, as there as probably only 3 of them, only wrapped in different colors and with fancy unique names that are linked to the past of each destination country, for "marketing reasons".

Then again, probably the blades Gillette / third party partners make in other plants (China/India/etc), they ARE different of course.
 
With modern manufacturing it is easy to have varied specs. Change happens at the push of a button.
Still doesn't explain the WHY, why Gillette should change specs between one lot of production and the other, when marketing teaches that you can change the wrapping paper and voilà, new product. A different fancy paper is enough to stimulate affection/nostalgia feelings ("I always used Astras!"), what's the need to change type of polymer sprayed on, or inclination of bevel? I invoke Ockham's razor here (the philosopher I mean...).

At most, I would concede that things can change due to errors, or due to different supplies of raw mats (for example polymer cans come for sure from external suppliers).

If anyone wants to have something really different, try Treet's, Lord's or Mostochlegmash's, just don't dream guys in St. Petersburg changing specs on the machines 3 times a day...
 
Actually, we all are on the same line! I think that was OP's point, that it's useless to bash our heads trying to understand which is Gillette's best blade from their big plant in Russia, as there as probably only 3 of them, only wrapped in different colors and with fancy unique names that are linked to the past of each destination country, for "marketing reasons".

Then again, probably the blades Gillette / third party partners make in other plants (China/India/etc), they ARE different of course.
I did not read his post quite that way. He confirmed that to a point the processes and specs yield three buckets, but it did not seem to me that he confirmed zero differentiation from there.
 
Still doesn't explain the WHY, why Gillette should change specs between one lot of production and the other, when marketing teaches that you can change the wrapping paper and voilà, new product. A different fancy paper is enough to stimulate affection/nostalgia feelings ("I always used Astras!"), what's the need to change type of polymer sprayed on, or inclination of bevel? I invoke Ockham's razor here (the philosopher I mean...).

At most, I would concede that things can change due to errors, or due to different supplies of raw mats (for example polymer cans come for sure from external suppliers).

If anyone wants to have something really different, try Treet's, Lord's or Mostochlegmash's, just don't dream guys in St. Petersburg changing specs on the machines 3 times a day..
Still doesn't explain the WHY, why Gillette should change specs between one lot of production and the other, when marketing teaches that you can change the wrapping paper and voilà, new product. A different fancy paper is enough to stimulate affection/nostalgia feelings ("I always used Astras!"), what's the need to change type of polymer sprayed on, or inclination of bevel? I invoke Ockham's razor here (the philosopher I mean...).

At most, I would concede that things can change due to errors, or due to different supplies of raw mats (for example polymer cans come for sure from external suppliers).

If anyone wants to have something really different, try Treet's, Lord's or Mostochlegmash's, just don't dream guys in St. Petersburg changing specs on the machines 3 times a day...
Companies do not have product lines with different names and price structures without a difference between products, the difference may be small, but it will be there.
 
For those who geek out on this stuff, here is a picture of what seems to show the coating on one of my Wizamet blades.
IPC_2021-07-07.18.15.24.1450.jpg
Here is a picture of a Hart steel razor finished on a shapton high grit finisher. (0.44 micron). It is reflective at that refinement, so to capture a photo you need to play with lighting.
IPC_2021-08-09.09.27.24.4570.jpg
 
See how easy this is?

Double edge razor blades​

I see a lot of discussion about how razor blades are made, and as a razor blade making factory worker guy, I work where we make razor blades. I would like to dispel some of the myths. I cannot tell you who I am or where I work, I don’t want to get in trouble with the factory I work at.

I can’t show you any more photos than what I have here because I couldn’t find any more I don’t want to divulge “trade secrets”.


So, all blades are sent over the “roller” machine to give them a slightly round contour. This makes the blades seat more firmly in the razor when tightened down.
Image1.png


Regardless of brand name, all blades in the factory go through the “Smores machine” to expose the blades to a fine coating of graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallow.
Image2.png


The blades are then dusted with a fine coating of powdered sugar to make the end shave really “sweet”.
Image3.png


The final step is to give the blades a free ride on the razor blade carousel, it’s the last fun they will have before going off to work for the rest of their lives.
Image4.png


You may or may not believe this, but I am indeed a razor blade factory guy and these are the major steps that all razor blades in the world go through. We make razor blades for every company on earth and a few on other planets. Don’t ask me which planets, I cannot tell you.
 
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