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Two Differnet Kinds Of Feather Blades???

Hi All,

I have noticed that I have two different kinds of Feather blades. They came from two different sources and I am wondering what the difference is. Is one just a newer version with updated graphics? Two different types? Is one a knock-off? One feels a bit thicker than the other. Unfortunately I did not use them back to back and only have one kind left so I can't speak to a difference between them. One did seem a little harsher than I remembered but sense memory is a tricky thing. Does anyone know anything about this? Please see the pic below.

Thanks Joe


 
Is one of the blades from CottonBlossoms ? I think one other member felt there was a difference in the shaves. One more aggressive than the other.
 
After digging around some more it seems that the difference is indeed the platinum coating. There may be some other manufacturing differences as well. The "Hi-stainless" appears to be an older blade while the "NeW Hi-Stainless" is the newer platinum coated variety. It is unclear what effect the platinum coating will have on the feel of the blade. It seems that it was developed in the late sixties by Gillette to "reduce corrosion and damage" to the blade edge. That would seem to be in an effort to prolong blade life. This could mean that one will get the same feel but more shaves from a platinum coated blade. It could also mean that one might get a smoother feel from a coated blade. I found a study here that seems to have some good info but I can't pay $30 for the full paper.

Anybody else have any info?

Thanks,
Joe
 
It is unclear what effect the platinum coating will have on the feel of the blade. It seems that it was developed in the late sixties by Gillette to "reduce corrosion and damage" to the blade edge. That would seem to be in an effort to prolong blade life. This could mean that one will get the same feel but more shaves from a platinum coated blade. It could also mean that one might get a smoother feel from a coated blade. I found a study here that seems to have some good info but I can't pay $30 for the full paper.

Anybody else have any info?
You can get a lot of information free from U.S. patents. There's some history of blade coating in these two but there are many, many more.

http://www.patentstorm.us/patents/6684513-description.html

http://www.patentstorm.us/patents/5433801-description.html

Basically coating was intended to hold down rust thus getting more shaves from a blade. When I first started shaving in 1954, I used Gillette blue blades, then silicone coated ones, then stainless steel then platinum chromium coated. When Gillette quit selling blades made in America, I switched to Schick triple coated which is what I still use today. I got 2-3 shaves with blue blades and 5-7 with coated ones.
 
I just picked up a bunch of the non-platinum coated blades - old stock that Pauldog is selling off in his 250 packs. Had my first shave with one this morning. Seemed to have had the same results as the platinum coated variety but it felt to me to be less smooth. After a few more shaves I'll check back and see if this was a one-off experience. Anyone else weigh in on this?
 
After digging around some more it seems that the difference is indeed the platinum coating. There may be some other manufacturing differences as well. The "Hi-stainless" appears to be an older blade while the "NeW Hi-Stainless" is the newer platinum coated variety. It is unclear what effect the platinum coating will have on the feel of the blade. It seems that it was developed in the late sixties by Gillette to "reduce corrosion and damage" to the blade edge. That would seem to be in an effort to prolong blade life. This could mean that one will get the same feel but more shaves from a platinum coated blade. It could also mean that one might get a smoother feel from a coated blade. I found a study here that seems to have some good info but I can't pay $30 for the full paper.

Anybody else have any info?

Thanks,
Joe
Here is the full paper, without figures.

Abstract
Razor blade technology involves not only the forming of the cutting edge (final facet) but the protection of that edge from damage and
corrosion. This requirement has led to the deposition of various types of metallic, ceramic and organic coatings to the final facet to prolong
the useful life of the blade. In this study, Auger electron spectroscopy and secondary electron microscopy are employed to characterize the
final facet of razor blades from various manufacturers. Each analysis emphasized the final facet morphology and coating composition. The
blades are analyzed before and after ‘pithing’ to remove the fluorocarbon lubricant and other oils found on most blades. The typical coating
was found to be chromium, but platinum alloys and iron oxides are also observed. The chromium coatings are fully oxidized in some cases,
and in others exhibit only a surface oxide. Sputter depth profiling is implemented to determine relative coating thickness and interfacial
chemistry.

Keywords: Auger electron spectroscopy; Coatings; Depth profiling: Scanning electron microscopy

1. Introduction
The first safety razors were conceived by King Camp Gillette
in 1901. With the help of an MIT-educated engineer
named William Nickerson, he perfected and patented the
safety razor in 1903 [ 11. This ‘kit’ as it was called, came
with the razor holder and twenty pre-sharpened double-edged
blades made of high carbon steel. These blades could be
sharpened easily enough but quickly lost the edge due to
corrosion [ 21. A subsequent material used was high carbon
stainless steel ( 13% Cr, 1% carbon, nominal composition)
which proved to have a longer shaving life. Eventually, a
variation of this alloy with lower carbon became the industry
standard for razor blade material.
In recent years, metallurgical coatings have been found
useful for reducing the effects of wear and corrosion on the
razor blade final facet. This is particularly important because
the final facet is required to maintain a specific geometry and
surface chemistry in order to perform as designed. To provide
reasonable shaving comfort, the blade edge should have a
radius of curvature small enough to be sharp but large enough
to allow the blade to slide over the surface of the skin and
only cut the hair it encounters. Further, this region of the
blade should be as impervious as possible to oxidation (rusting),
corrosion (chemical effects of shaving creams, soaps,
etc.) and damage.

With all of the above requirements, it is obvious that even
a bare steel edge, the design prevalent until the mid-1950s,
would have a fairly short lifetime in a shaving environment.
The first approach to surface passivation was simply to anneal
the blade, which oxidized the surface, forming a thin ( < 100
A) ceramic coating. Other passivation schemes included
annealing in various atmospheres, such as hydrocarbon gases
to carbonize the surface, and applying a thin film of material
less susceptible to corrosion. All of this has evolved into the
comparatively elegant coatings now used on razor blade
edges.

Shaving comfort was still a problem. As clean-shaven faces
became more fashionable and consumer demand increased,
the blade industry responded by attempting to apply lubricants
to the blade edge. The earliest petroleum-based lubricants
were too easily removed and remained on the blade for
only a few strokes. Silicones were eventually tried and exhibited
better adhesion properties, particularly when a bake was
applied to the coated blade. Blade life was lengthened and
shaving comfort improved.

With the advent of polymeric coatings, intrinsic lubrication
in blade coating technology took a new turn. Polytetrafluoroethylene
(PTFE) was a natural choice, given the insolubility
and lubricity of the material. However, adhesion properties
(to steel) were poor, and the only scheme that worked was
the application of a very thick layer, which peeled away with
the first shave, leaving a thin, lubricating film. It was soon
discovered that an intermediate coating of chromium provided
a better base for adhesion and many manufacturers
incorporated chromium coatings on their blades. Subsequent
research and empirical study revealed the corrosion-resistant
nature of chromium and chromium alloys [ 31. More recent
coating schemes include nitriding, adding a second phase
material as intrinsic lubrication, and multilayers. Auger analysis
of nitrided coatings has been shown to be an effective
method of characterizing these surfaces [4]. An attempt was
made to include at least one of each of the more typical
coatings for a representative study.

2. Experimental
All razor blades were purchased at retail shops to ensure
the ‘consumer-ready’ condition of the blade. Each blade was
removed from the respective holder with clean tools, using
care to minimize damage to the cutting edge. Three blades
from each manufacturer were labeled with indelible ink, and
a ‘front’ and ‘back’ were designated. Two of each blade was
then pithed six times, using fresh plant pith and a different
area on the pith, to reduce cross-contamination of the organic
material. Each blade was mounted on a stainless steel stage
with a machined trough, with the edge positioned over the
trough to minimize back-sputtering from the stage. One area
on the ‘front’ of each blade was analyzed to obtain the average
composition and film thickness. If a significant difference
was observed, a third measurement was made. The backside
of two different blades was measured for coating uniformity
and this data is also discussed. Manufacturer identity is not
disclosed and blades are designated as the letters A-I.
Analysis was performed on a Perkin-Elmer Model 660
Scanning Auger Microprobe using a LaB, electron source.
Primary beam energy was 10 keV at 1 .O p,A sample current,
resulting in a beam diameter of approximately 1 pm. Ionsputtered
depth profiling was accomplished using 3 keV Ar+
ions produced by electron impact, extracted, and rastered over
a 2 mm2 area with a total current of 2.8 PA, which resulted
in a sputter rate of 180 A min ’ relative to SiOz. (Ion gun
maintenance performed during the study increased the sputter
rate to 250 A min - ’ . Tables are corrected for the chromium
sputter rate obtained from a standard measured with X-ray
fluorescence.) System pressure was maintained at
< 1 X 10d9 Torr using a 220 1 s- ’ ion pump. All data acquisition
and massage was performed through an Apollo workstation
and Unix-based software.
Each analytical area was surveyed prior to sputtering to
ascertain surface composition before removing material.
Fig. 1 indicates the region of the analysis relative to the blade
edge. The major species observed on the surface of each blade
was then included in the sputter profile routine as well as iron,
used as a substrate marker. Profiles were terminated when the
bulk composition of the base material reached steady-state
condition. In the event that the pithing did not remove enough
lubricant to determine the coating composition, the profile
was suspended when the carbon reached 50% of the original
value and a survey performed to determine the true coating
composition. In one case a solvent was used to remove an
extraordinarily thick lubricant.

3. Results and discussion
The blade coatings analyzed in this study can be divided
into three categories; no coating, single coating, including
alloys, and multi-layered (including nitrided) . The lubricant
is not considered a ‘coating’, although analyses of several
blades not pithed showed the lubricant to be fluorocarbonbased.
Fig. 2 is representative of the spectra from these lubricants.
Chromium is universally the coating material. However,
several modifications of the chromium layer were observed,
either intentional or accidental. Blades are categorized below,
using the criteria mentioned in the above paragraph.

3.1. Simple coating (blades A, B, C, D)
These blades appeared to be chromium-coated with a surface
and interfacial oxide of varying thickness. Blade C
exhibited the least amount of surface and interfacial oxidation,
probably the result of a very clean substrate and coater
vacuum system. Conversely, in one of the samples for blade
D, oxygen and carbon appeared to be incorporated in the
entire coating. Further, the position of the relative maximum
peak intensities for chromium, oxygen and iron signals at the
coating-substrate interface suggested a mixed oxide as well.
It should also be mentioned that the reverse side of another
sample of blade D proved to have very little surface and
interfacial oxygen and a distinctly different coating thickness.
Two of the samples for blade A exhibited a well-defined
oxide layer at the surface and interface, indicative of minimal
preparation of the substrate. However, the third sample
showed carbon and oxygen throughout the coating as seen in
blade D.

3.2. Multi-layered or alloyed (blades E, F, G)
Chromium is the predominant material, but blade E has a
surface which appears to have been nitrided, on a pure chromium
layer. This could be accomplished as a co-deposition
during the blade processing, or as a separate step using a
nitrogen or NH, glow discharge. The thickness of the nitrogen-
containing layer was approximately 100 A, using the
half-maximum of the nitrogen signal as an interface and the
sputter rate correction for nitrides.
Blades F and G both claimed to have platinum as an additive,
(corrosion resistance?) but it was only detected on blade
F, limiting the amount in the coating on blade G to be less
than 0.5 at.%, which is the effective detection limit for platinum
in Auger spectroscopy using these conditions.

3.3. No coating (blades H, I)
These blades had such a thin chromium-containing coating
that it was assumed to be only enrichment/oxidation due to
annealing rather than an applied layer. The behavior of the
elements followed in the profile attest to this, where the oxygen
and iron immediately increase and the chromium
decreases, with no apparent coating morphology or true ‘layering’
observed. Blade H was wire-wrapped, with the coil
spacing approximately 50 pm, apparently to ‘align’ the hairs
before shaving.

Fig. 3(a) and 3(b) and Fig. 4(a) and 4(b) illustrate the
profiles that are representative of each coating morphology,
except for the platinum-containing coatings, in which case
the platinum is in the noise and only evident in a montage
display of the energy ‘windows’ used to generate the profile.
The actual thickness of the coatings is based on the sputter
rate for pure chromium, and will therefore exhibit error with
the magnitude of the error inversely proportional to the
amount of pure chromium in the film. Also, surface and
interfacial chemistry was not absolutely determined by suspending
the profile routine and acquiring a survey. It was
assumed that the elements followed in the survey would be
the constituents of the interfaces and only the stoichiometry
would change. Further, detection of minor impurities and
contaminants was not the purpose of this study.
Table 1 lists the blades analyzed, coating type (if present),
and coating thickness, based on the intersection of the major
coating cation and iron. There are also comments describing
any aspects of the coating worth mentioning.

Summary
Despite the seemingly wide variety of coating morphology,
chromium is the common denominator. Differences in coating
thickness, degree of oxidation, interfacial chemistry and
additives all serve to change the blade performance. However,
without knowledge of the efficacy of each coating/
blade in a shaving environment, it is impossible to establish
a cause-effect relationship. For obvious reasons, we can
assume that the uncoated blade life (H and I) will be shorter
than that of the coated blade. Variations in coating thickness
will also certainly affect blade life, as would interfacial chemistry
(coating spalling) and surface composition (corrosion
resistance). Further study in a collaborative effort using test
results would be necessary for this information.
What this study does show is that blade coating technology
has gotten quite sophisticated, particularly with the nitrided
blades. Additionally, the lack of an interfacial oxide in some
of the blades (particularly Blade C), implies in-situ pretreatment,
such as plasma etching, before coating. Addition
of platinum as a corrosion inhibitor also suggests innovative
metallurgy. There are still problems, considering the nonuniformity
of coating thickness and composition between
blades and even sides of the same lot.
This study was undertaken to illustrate the application of
surface analysis, specifically Auger electron spectroscopy,
for characterizing these types of coatings. It has been shown
that the technique is well-suited for these types of analyses.
Future coating materials will include more sophisticated
alloys, ceramics, and certainly diamond and diamond-like
coatings, all requiring similar characterization. Auger spectroscopy
could be an important analytical tool in the development
of these coatings.

Acknowledgements
The author is extremely grateful to Brian Balistee for his
many useful discussions and advice.
References
[ 11 N. Aaseng, BetterMousefraps, Lemer Publications, Minneapolis, 1990,
pp. 29-37.
121 J.F. Sackman, Wilkinson Sword Cornpuny, company publication.
[31 K. Natesan and R.N. Johnson, Surface Coatings Technol.. 33 (1987)
341-351.
[4] S. Hofmann, J. Vat. Sci. Technol., A4(6) (1986) 2789-2796.
If anyone wants the pdf with the figures and tables, just pm me. Maybe you know how to post them in format, I don't.
 
Thank you very much for posting that paper! Really very nice of you.

It is an interesting read. It does seem that the platinum is all about prolonging blade life. The really interesting part is where they mention that the coating increases the radius of the blade edge. This would make a coated blade slightly less sharp than an un-coated blade. Since high carbon steel is stronger and can be given a sharper edge, the ultimate blade would seem to be a high carbon blade that you throw away after one use. Of course that would be very expensive and wasteful.

I have contacted Feather and asked what the difference is between the blades. Hopefully they will provide an answer.

I ordered some New Hi-stainless platinum blades to compare to my regular hi-stainless. I intend to do a blind test to see if I can feel a difference. I will have my wife load up two identical razors and will shave alternately with each for 8 days total. I will then repeat the experiment and post my results. Of course I now need an identical twin for my 59 Fatboy or 56 Superspeed. Anyone have one they want to part with?

Joe
 
At the behest of guenron, here are pictures of pages 2-4 ([page 1 has no figures)
1. Introduction
The first safety razors were conceived by King Camp Gillette
in 1901. With the help of an MIT-educated engineer
named William Nickerson, he perfected and patented the
safety razor in 1903 [ 11. This &#8216;kit&#8217; as it was called, came
with the razor holder and twenty pre-sharpened double-edged
blades made of high carbon steel. These blades could be
sharpened easily enough but quickly lost the edge due to
corrosion [ 21. A subsequent material used was high carbon
stainless steel ( 13&#37; Cr, 1% carbon, nominal composition)
which proved to have a longer shaving life. Eventually, a
variation of this alloy with lower carbon became the industry
standard for razor blade material.
In recent years, metallurgical coatings have been found
useful for reducing the effects of wear and corrosion on the
razor blade final facet. This is particularly important because
the final facet is required to maintain a specific geometry and
surface chemistry in order to perform as designed. To provide
reasonable shaving comfort, the blade edge should have a
radius of curvature small enough to be sharp but large enough
to allow the blade to slide over the surface of the skin and
only cut the hair it encounters. Further, this region of the
blade should be as impervious as possible to oxidation (rusting),
corrosion (chemical effects of shaving creams, soaps,
etc.) and damage.

With all of the above requirements, it is obvious that even
a bare steel edge, the design prevalent until the mid-1950s,
would have a fairly short lifetime in a shaving environment.
The first approach to surface passivation was simply to anneal
the blade, which oxidized the surface, forming a thin ( < 100
A) ceramic coating. Other passivation schemes included
annealing in various atmospheres, such as hydrocarbon gases
to carbonize the surface, and applying a thin film of material
less susceptible to corrosion. All of this has evolved into the
comparatively elegant coatings now used on razor blade
edges.

Shaving comfort was still a problem. As clean-shaven faces
became more fashionable and consumer demand increased,
the blade industry responded by attempting to apply lubricants
to the blade edge. The earliest petroleum-based lubricants
were too easily removed and remained on the blade for
only a few strokes. Silicones were eventually tried and exhibited
better adhesion properties, particularly when a bake was
applied to the coated blade. Blade life was lengthened and
shaving comfort improved.

With the advent of polymeric coatings, intrinsic lubrication
in blade coating technology took a new turn. Polytetrafluoroethylene
(PTFE) was a natural choice, given the insolubility
and lubricity of the material. However, adhesion properties
(to steel) were poor, and the only scheme that worked was
the application of a very thick layer, which peeled away with
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Last edited by a moderator:
I posted a WTB here for a '59 Fat Boy to use in the experiment. If I can't find one here I'll head over to ebay. Probably wind up paying $60 just for an experiment...:rolleyes: At least I can sell it once I'm done. :smile:

Joe
 
Well the Feather blade experiment was supposed to start tomorrow but I have hit a snag. I ordered a 10 pack of the New Hi-Stainless Platinum coated blades from classicshaving.com to compare against my older Hi-Stainless non-platinum blades. Unfortunately, when I took one of the Platinum coated blades out of the pack from classicshaving to take some pictures under the microscope, I found the old style blade! I checked the rest of the pack and sure enough all 10 are the old style blade, NOT the new platinum coated blade. The package clearly states "New Hi-Stainless Platinum Coated Blade" but the printing on the blade is the old style. See the pics above in my first post if that does not make sense. The new platinum blades clearly say "Platinum Coated" right on the blade, these do not. In looking at the pics on the classicshaving.com site you can see the old style blade next to the new platinum coated packaging. The package was sealed in plastic wrap so I doubt the classicshaving guys are trying to pull a fast one but they may have been taken by their supplier. It is also possible that Feather Safety Razor Co. was briefly using the old printing on the new blades. I will email classicshaving.com and see what they can turn up. Unfortunately the experiment must be put on hold until this gets cleared up. :frown:
 

letterk

Moderator Emeritus
That's really weird. Isn't Classicshaving.com the only official Feather distributor in the U.S.?
Yup. They're the only importer.

With the blade you got from Classic, where they in a clear plastic box or a white plastic box?
 
They are in a white plastic box.

If they are importing them direct from the manufacturer then they must be the new blades with old printing. Perhaps Feather did not update the blade graphics until very recently. I'll see if I can verify this with Feather.

John, I know the blades that came in the sampler I got from you were the "NeW Hi-Stainless". Any chance I could buy a very small number of just the new feathers for this experiment?

Joe
 
Yep, those are the older ones. It looks like that website has not been updated since 2000 though.

Joe
 
The main page has a copyright year of 2000:
http://www.feather-shop.com/

That doesn't necessarily give us the correct age of all the pages within.

As for clear vs. white plastic:
The Feather 10-pack that I have has a clear plastic outer case and a white plastic inner tray. On the bottom of the case is a "10" and the blades are marked "NeW Hi-Stainless Platinum Coated Blades".

I can't find a 5-pack to check, by my recollection is that it had a white plastic case. I don't remember the blade markings. If I had known about the difference earlier, I would have made sure to keep a 5-pack for reference.
 
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