Low Friction Coatings for High Speed Precision Cutting

Microblade Ltd. has been manufacturing high quality blades in Sheffield for over 200 years. The company specialises in precision saw blades and ancillary equipment for high speed cutting applications in the paper processing industry.

Due to the highly abrasive nature of paper fibres (and ceramic particulate filler materials also sometimes used), log saw blades require frequent re-sharpening. During cutting, friction between the steel blade and the paper fibres/particles generates heat, which can cause blades to distort. In order to reduce the downtime associated with these problems, Microblade contacted the research team in the Leonardo Centre at the University of Sheffield for assistance in developing a new wearresistant coating for log saw blades.

Drawing on its knowledge and experience in wear testing and evaluation, the team was able to simulate the abrasive wear process under laboratory test conditions. The Centre’s extensive test facilities were used to rapidly assess the wear protection and friction behaviour offered by several
readily available coating systems. This testing is far more economical than full scale tests in the field.


Using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and other specialised analytical techniques, we were able to characterise the topography and composition of each of the coating systems. This analysis, together with input from TWI Ltd (using specialised cold-spray coating techniques), allowed the Leonardo team to propose and develop a new coating system for log saw blades. The knowledge gained during this project enabled Microblade to continue development of superior cutting blades and has helped to secure their position in this highly competitive market.