Precision blades are the hallmark of Double Edge shaving with a Safety Razor; as you can customize your brand to your preference. Many users try three or more blade manufacturers before settling on ‘their’ blade. Variables such as the grinding, coatings, and sharpness can vary the type of shave trememdously depending on your skin and beard type. This is why RetroRazor includes three types of blades to sample.
Here is a fascinating article about Personna American Safety Razor’s plant in Knoxville, TN. This plant is primarily producing Plastic Disposables for privalte label drug stores, but the segment about blade manufacture is very cool…This is the same company that makes the Red Personna’s, though ours are made in the Northern Israel plant. We also supply Korean and Turkish blades in our starter kit. RetroRazor is seeking out a domestic source of Razors as well for those who want to buy American!
“Personna American Safety Razor is a private-label supplier of consumer razor blades in the United States. “When you go into a Kroger [a Cincinnati-based grocery retailer] and they have a private-label razor, more than likely that is our razor. Our competition is Bic, Schick and Gillette, as well as other private-label manufacturers. We consider ourselves as competing in the overall wet shaving market, and private label is one aspect of that market,” says Kermit Bantz, director of shaving manufacturing at the Knoxville, TN, facility.”
skip a ton of QC things about plastic razors…
“The Manufacture of a Blade
Operators on the shop floor perform several inspections and quality checks throughout the manufacturing process, and it all begins with 3-mile-long strips of steel. ASR goes through about 25 to 30 coils of these strips each day. First, 2,000-degree furnaces harden the strips of steel at about 50 feet per minute. The strips are then cooled.
A strip from each coil goes offline to a Smart Scope for inspection. If the strip is out of spec, the entire coil will get scrapped. A statistical process control (SPC) system keeps track of all scrap and data from this point on through grinding.
Along the way, the steel strips are perforated. In 2004, the Knoxville plant had five presses. Today, to keep up with the increased production, the facility has eight. During the hardening process, the steel strips are at risk for stretching or breaking. ASR employs an inline vision system to check for these defects.
“Online detection is very important, because with 3 miles of steel, you can get a lot of bad product,” says Daron Roberts, value stream manager/production manager at the Knoxville plant.
To double-check the vision system used, an operator uses an offline stretch gage to check for stretching and straightness with a tolerance of about 4 /16 of an inch.
Next, the blades go to the grinding process to achieve their sharpness. Throughout the process, cameras measure blade height. Tolerance is approximately 1 /1,000 of an inch. Offline, an operator checks for blade appearance and edge quality with a microscope.
An in-house designed machine, called the Sharpometer, is used by an operator to check for balance of the blades—from edge to edge and front to back.
Blades then go through a cleaning and coating process. Sensors measure position of blades along the way and a vision system ensures that the coating was applied correctly and evenly. Blades are packaged in small boxes and wait for shipment to Mexico for assembly.
The test and inspection processes don’t stop after the blades are complete, however. “All products are shave tested annually and are tested against the brand name products,” says Anna Hickman, quality engineer and consumer quality manager for the wet shaving division. Hickman sends product samples to a third-party source for consumer testing regularly, as well as conducts in-house shave testing.
There are two lab technicians on staff responsible for customer quality issues. Offline, a scanning electron microscope at 10,000X to 30,000X power is used to determine how smooth or sharp the blade is and to look into customer issues. The microscope also is used to research the impact of different processes on the edge of the blade.