The material your hair cutting shears is made from determines how long they can last without sharpening and how fine the edges can be. Of course, the way you take care of your shears has an impact on their longevity as well. But the first things that their quality depends on are the materials and the manufacturing process used. Thanks to years of development and innovation in manufacturing, nowadays, a variety of different materials are used to make shears. You’ll find the most common of these below.
The Manufacturing Process for Scissors
A long time ago, cutlery makers discovered that forging – the use of compressive force in the shaping of metal – created a material that stayed sharper for a longer time. Centuries ago, they were crafting swords with hammers. Today, cutlery is drop forged. This means that hot steel enters the mold and then is pounded into the desired shape. Before forging, the steel reaches about 1200°F (649°C). Afterward, it enters a bath of cold liquid to harden. This is sometimes called ice tempering. Ice tempering leaves the steel hardened, providing durability and longevity.
Another way to give a blade its shape is through casting. Casting involves heating metal to a liquid form, which takes place at around 2500°F (1371°C). Then, the liquid metal is poured into a mold. When the metal cools, it expands. This makes the metal more brittle, so cast shears don’t stay sharp as long as forged ones.
Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to know cast shears from forged shears by sight. It may be difficult to get a reliable answer from a salesperson because they often simply often don’t know. The majority of shears from China and Taiwan are cast but many shears are not marked with their country of origin. The only thing the customer can do is deal with reliable manufacturers to guarantee the quality of their scissors.
The Metal Alloys Used for Scissors
Most shears are made from some sort of alloy. These alloys are usually a combination of two or more metallic elements. This helps to improve the scissors’ strength and resistance to corrosion while adding some other, special features at the same time.
Nowadays, it’s no secret that, when it comes to scissors, their longevity, sharpness, and resistance against damage can be improved just based on their alloy makeup. Nickel is in almost all alloys combinations because it adds sheen and improves resistance against corrosion. Unfortunately, nickel is a material many people are allergic to.
Stainless Steel Alloy
One of the most common and popular alloys used when manufacturing scissors is stainless steel. The two main types used in the hairdressing industry are 440C and 420A stainless steel. For these stainless steels, 440C is better because it contains a higher amount of carbon. 440C stainless steel can be tempered to achieve further hardness.
It is common knowledge that the best stainless-steel materials are made in Japan and Germany. Both of these countries have a long history of cutlery making and both have created very refined steel for just this purpose.
Cobalt Base Alloy
Cobalt base alloy is another material that is extremely popular with scissors manufacturers today. Cobalt is famous for its resistance against rust and its chemical resistance. But it can be nicked or chipped easily. This also means the blades become non-adjustable after multiple sharpenings. Despite wearing out sooner than stainless-steel shears, cobalt base alloy shears cost more than stainless steel ones.
Molybdenum alloy is an ideal material compared to stainless steel or cobalt alloy. It can be hardened to a high level without becoming brittle, thanks to molybdenum’s flexibility. This allows shears made of molybdenum alloy to have a fine, razor-sharp edge which will last for a long time.
Cobalt Molybdenum Base Alloy
To achieve non-brittle and non-fragile shears that also have chemical and rust resistance, molybdenum is added to cobalt. As mentioned before, cobalt has chemical and rust resistance while molybdenum has flexibility. Together they make a great pair.
Sintered Steel and Carbide Steel
Some exotic materials are being used in some of today’s most expensive hair cutting shears. For example, sintered (or powdered) steel is extremely hard. Unfortunately, it can be brittle and difficult to sharpen.
Another material is carbide steel, which is perfect for edge retention. Haircutting scissors made out of these special materials are quite expensive. This is because it’s extremely difficult to make quality shears from these materials.
Covering the scissors with titanium coat is how manufacturers add a special color to shears. It should be mentioned that a titanium coat has no positive or negative effect on edge retention because does not cover the edges of scissors. This coating is usually done to make inexpensive shears appear more attractive and, thus, more expensive.
It’s important to mention that titanium-coated shears may be appropriate for those who have nickel allergies.
When shopping for hair cutting scissors, there are many things to take into consideration. The material the shears are made from is just one of those. This factor is important because it will affect the longevity, sharpness, and overall quality of the product you buy.