To create Damasteel, a stainless steel liquid is firstly poured into a vertical tower. As the fluid passes through the spout, a gush of non-reactive gas breaks it into tiny drops. These drops become powder when they reach the bottom of the tower, containing all the alloying elements of the melt. The powder is then collected in a carbon steel bucket beneath the tower. After this, a cold compaction press is used to allow for the succeeding high-pressure, high-temperature process. This will output a solid hunk of steel that already has an ideal construction. In comparison, conventionally made steel would be a rough hunk of metal at this stage of the process, needing further forming or rolling to become a suitable piece of steel.
At one point, it was mistakenly thought that Damascus blades, with their distinctive surface patterns, were created through the process of pattern welding, which is the joining of several different pieces of metal into one. Now, the contrast between wootz steel, which Damascus blades are actually made of, and pattern welding is completely understood. This misunderstanding about the two types of steel was corrected in 1973 when William F. Moran presented his “Damascus knives” at the Knifemakers’ Guild Show.
To create a modern version of Damascus steel, several layers of iron and steel are welded together. Although this is technically incorrect, the term “Damascus” is widely used in the trade to refer to these pattern-welded steel blades. The patterns of the blade depend on how the smith works the billet, which is stretched and folded until the required layers are achieved. In order to be recognized as a Master Smith by the American Bladesmith Society, founded by Moran, the smith must produce a Damascus blade with a minimum of 300 layers.
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