Process

 

The Human mind adapts, adjusts and performs just like the SAK does.

I will talk some on the modern Swiss Army Knife and design. With the evolution of the Swiss Army Knife we can follow and see very clear how the world has transformed into the modern world we live in today. The design, functions, colors and how it is made are all there.

With modern technology and machines the Swiss Army Knife has changed from a handmade knife into the automated process and high tech production. The knife is also a product of computer science and design. But it is important to remember that it is people that are behind all this technology and the basic invention and versatile knife.

Both companies honor the invention and beginning and this is reflected in the product and design today.

The Swiss Army Knife is very much a product of a modern production made to make knives in huge numbers. The versatile knife really hit on after WW2. And then the need to make many new knives per day requires a different production that is cost effective but also can produce the quality.

It is obvious that to make huge numbers require new factories and machines that can make this possible. For me I believe that a Swiss Army Knife is a product by evolution, demand and versatile use. But also a product influenced by what the machines can make. This may sound obvious and I agree. It is just to have in mind that the factories in Switzerland do not only make the most advanced knives in the world they also use and got one of the most advanced productions and factories in the world.

There is a constant development to make the production cost effective but at same time have the best quality. The introduction of stainless steel in the 1920s is also one of the most important introductions and changes. From 1930 and up this is beginning to influence how the best material is for a SAK. It is very important for a versatile multifunction knife to have stainless steel.

For me I understand that it is important with the change from forged tools to the stamped out process.

There is a part that is extra interesting for me. This is at what point in time does the process and huge numbers of knives made become its own enemy?  I will explain. From the evolution we get wonderful and interesting products and we give thanks to technology and brilliance of the Swiss for the products. There is however a very important factor and this is that at a certain point the production and automated production with its limits will show so much on the product that it will lose its presence. We must be careful so we do get a knife that is more a product of production than the versatile knife for people. The quality, materials and product is to today a result of a perfected quality and production. We that research every evolution on the knives can see this.

I would like to mention that the introduction of new categories also show greatness. The Wenger New Rangers is maybe one of the best SAK made. The pliers could be better Kul

The category that is most affected by the danger of over processed production is the 91mm Officers knife. It is still a very good knife but it is the knife that from 1897 has caused such iconic development and fame.

reintroduction

To study the evolution, history and milestones are important factors to understand the Swiss Army Knife. It is important to know about the world at the time and changes done to the knife. With good knowledge on milestones and tool evolution then we can find a date for when it was made and identify it. We can easy find fakes and personal modifications. We can study the different materials and how well they are.

“Some of the functions are so deeply part of the human mind and history that it is scary. The possibility to cut, sew, file or saw is fundamental factors in the human genes”

One very interesting part of the history of SAKs is the development of larger knives from the late 1980s until today. With the large 130mm new Rangers we really get a reintroduction of the SAK in a larger and better form. Larger knives have been made by both companies more early but different all together.

The basic Officers type knives is an icon and it is very useful for extremely many tasks in the modern world but it cannot compare to the Victorinox 111mm or Wenger 130mm knives when it comes to the basic functions needed in the outdoors. With the larger knives the gadget impression disappears.

In many ways we can thank modern production and technology for such a nice knife.

updates

The Swiss Army Knife adapts for the new time and the versatile knife with modern pad print and engravings on the knife makes it more versatile. Advertising on the handles is not a new invention but the modern methods are cost effective but it makes a solid impression for us in the sense that it is personal and even beautiful looking. The strength or durability of pad printing is not the best but the danger of over-processing is also here. Some of the Victorinox designs in 2013 are brilliant.

There are some changes done on the construction of the knives in history that for me are both evolution and cost effective production methods.

Some changes in the design and construction in the history of the Officers type knives are related to the production efficiency. The change in the thickness of the knife blade is a factor I am interested in. On the officer’s knives or on this type of category the thickness of the blades varies. This is normal.

When the change on the knife blade tang on the main 91mm line was reduced in 2004 I got interested in why. Cost of metal or production reasons? Still is a good versatile pen blade but it did not fit in fully for me why it was changed.

The plastic handles are today reduced in material and it can fracture and warp more easily. I also do not like it when the edge is not sharp or sharpened correct. Here both factories need to improve.

I like anodized aluminum but it is not the best material always and it needs to have anodizing.

Competitive

It is important that the SAK can be competitive in the world marked. From the early 2000s and until today we have seen many changes done and brilliant leadership. Both Brands has been innovative with knives and products. Wenger has been most innovative on the knife market. Victorinox have done moves to become a Global Brand. In 2013 we received information that Victorinox will fully incorporate the Wenger factory and together make a product range to avoid clones.  This was done so the one company Victorinox can make enough knives and be competitive on the international marked with products. The use of more products and luxury items is part of the brand image with fashion, Watches and Fragrances.

India and China are now part of the Victorinox strategy for the Global Brand.

To be competitive on the marked one need to have a cost effective production.

I am amazed by the Victorinox leadership but I am also wondering. The iconic Swiss Army Knife can only fulfill to some extent. I am really glad that Victorinox is competitive on the knife market and battle the fakes and copy knives in the world.

Competition

Wenger and Victorinox

 

The history of the Wenger Brand  =  financial trouble. If we study Wenger history this is a company with great products and inventions. This brand is in my mind responsible for the modern SAK in a good way.

I have mentioned from time to time that to know the history of only one brand then the complete story is missing. These two companies together introduced to the world many nice products. The competition between them made a product. In some sense for me the competition is important for the moderation and constant quality development.

1970s

The modern Swiss Army knife is a product that started in the early 1970s and it is from this date that the construction, functions and material start to show the strongest signs of the modern world.

The use of advertising or icons in the handle scales is much older than 1970 but there are differences.

We know from history the different decline dates and that from WW2 the knife had become famous.

The US marked is interesting for collectors because it is so large. In the 1970s Victorinox and Wenger began a competition for knives, products and new inventions.  I would like to mention that some believe that the modern Swiss Army Knife is too much influenced by the marked in the US. I actually believe that it was a good thing and the influence is there but not more than it should.

From the 1970s and 80s and up we get new colors, icons and advertisings knives. Both companies made sure that the basic line of knife and product remained true to the origin of it.

The 1970s is the start of different technology and production methods that influenced the knife very much. We enter the computer and electronic age. The use of the outdoors activities gets a new boom and people need new fashions.

The 1970s is a turning point because we know that the huge fame the knife had gotten from WW2 and into the 1970s had come to a saturation point and from 1969 Victorinox began working with the economy knives and new products. The US marked became a very important market for both companies from the 1970s and up.

 From history we know that Victorinox expanded and made a new factory. This is interesting with their history because it is almost a tradition to expand when the tide is down.

Stainless Steel

I my article I wrote:

“There is a constant development to make the production cost effective but at same time have the best quality. The introduction of stainless steel in the 1920s is also one of the most important introductions and changes. From 1930 and up this is beginning to influence how the best material is for a SAK. It is very important for a versatile multifunction knife to have stainless steel”

I will explain:

From history we know the pioneering feats by Victorinox and the Stainless Steel. It was not before 1930 that the steel had the properties or abilities that were good enough for the company.

Stainless Steel was not cost effective in the beginning but it was a huge improving for the quality of the SAK. Today I do not know anyone that would change this. The Pioneering feat is a part of the constant improving to make the product better. I did mention this because today the production and use of steel is a bit different because of the automated process. The steel used on the SAK product is very good and performs for what it is made for. I feel we must be careful not to reduce the tang of the blade any further because we do not want the blade to lose the versatile quality of use. The blade is very important for the impression I get. The use of the shaped liner to fill the space is ok but not the best. Wenger had already reduced the blade in the 70s and this is early.

The corrosion resistance of the Wenger and Victorinox product is like I did mention very high. The introduction of aluminum liners is interesting. Aluminum liners with anodizing work well on the knives and I have never had any problem. It is however not the best material because on some used knives by others and some knives mentioned on the internet show signs of a disruption of the surface with the result of a buildup. This is of some concern in the world. I do wish that the liners could be rounded some.

I do not complain at all but all the factors of a fast production and less detail work is a concern.

Presence

In my article I wrote

“There is a part that is extra interesting for me. This is at what point in time does the process and huge numbers of knives made become its own enemy?  I will explain. From the evolution we get wonderful and interesting products and we give thanks to technology and brilliance of the Swiss for the products. There is however a very important factor and this is that at a certain point the production and automated production with its limits will show so much on the product that it will lose its presence. We must be careful so we do get a knife that is more a product of production than the versatile knife for people. The quality, materials and product is to today a result of a perfected quality and production. We that research every evolution on the knives can see this”

The SAK got its own presence and by this I mean that the design and product immediately identifies itself with the red handles, emblem and functions. The quality feel in the hand and versatile multipurpose knife is appealing and a nice object to own. It produces its own presence and I believe every collector and user enjoy this feeling.

We must be careful so the knife does not lose this presence. Everyone knows that this knife is mass produced and that it is made in Switzerland. People know it is a quality object and I agree.

If the product becomes reduced further and even more mass produced or in an over-processed way then it will be looked upon as a cheaper product. We do want the knife to have a price that is affordable for everyone but we want no compromise in quality.

1969

In my article I wrote:

“ from 1969 Victorinox began working with the economy knives and new products". Not to confuse and I will explain:

I did mention the 1969 and economy made knives because from history we know that after a court ruling or a similar process Victorinox in Switzerland could make knives for the souvenir marked in Switzerland. So this should have been mentioned after “The US marked became a very important market for both companies from the 1970s and up” Anyhow the Souvenir marked is interesting because the Elinox is mentioned. The point is that I have collected economy knives and I may be very wrong but for me I get the feeling that this category has influenced the main line.

Collectors

Victorinox have used and do use steel from different parts of Europe. The use of Damasteel is interesting. This has been used on special knives the last years in limited numbers. It is very nice looking blades with the recreation of Damascus steel.  As a steel for use it is just maybe an improvement of the normal blade steel used. Take a look at my steel page for the specs on the main steels.

Victorinox  should get praise for the many products directed at collectors and special interested people the last years. Alox knives especially.

Conclusion

Over-processing for an automated production is not the same as over-processing handwork.

Handwork may be the best for the quality of the product while the best with an automated high technology factory is to make huge number of cost effective products and to be competitive on the marked. I have explained how important it is with all these factors in my articles. The downside of making the best automated production is the detail work. This will not influence or usually never be negative for the basic functionality of the product. Quality and functionality with iconic design are factors.

There is of course still handwork done to the Swiss Army Knives today. One of the key factors for why Victorinox is so successful is the ability to perfect a factory to incorporate history, design and functionality of the products to be able to produce in such numbers that they can be competitive internationally.

The dangers of over-processed production are the less detail work done to the product. It is difficult to make the product much better for a mass produced automated production. Here is the danger that I have been doing study on. There is a small danger that the iconic design, functionality and quality would be too much limited by the ability of an automated process.

We can be thankful for Swiss precision for making such a factory possible but we must also never forget the small details.

 

 

 

 Engineer and mechanic conclusion

The invention of the Victorinox spring and the quality of this spring is one of the key factors for the production. The quality of this spring is very well.

When I have a 91mm Swiss Army Knife or other categories for that matter in hand then I am almost hypnotized by it. I can just sit and look at it for a long time. It represents to me a very good product and mechanism.This knife is made by a factory with a production that is an engineer and mechanic marvel. The product when in the hand with all the function represents to me an historic invention and quality.

The polish on the surface on the functions, precision of the mechanism and functionality is very well.

The downside of the SAK is the aluminum liners and the handle scales and some small detail work.

 

 

Handwork

Modern materials

The best for a product would be a combination of an automated process and more handwork. I am never talking about hand forging or producing the whole SAK just by hand because this would not work today. It would become very expensive.

The use of stamping out the blade blanks from a roll of steel and that this steel goes through all the steps in the production is the best. We know today very well how this process is done. To hand forge such small blades would be expensive and on such a small blade could make the quality of it less.

Aluminum

From 1951 until today Victorinox have used aluminum liners and dividers.

I have done some study on the conclusion of this material and the tests of time. On knives that have only been stored in a collection got no negative or changes on the surface on the metal. They are as new. If you are interested in anodizing and aluminum then take a look at my Victorinox steel page with underpage anodizing.

One of the big advantages with the complete Swiss Army Knife is the corrosion resistance of it. The steel and materials used works well. Especially the steel is very good.

I have used knives for many years without any problem on the aluminum liners and dividers. My only conclusion is that it needs regular maintenance with cleaning. The most important is to remove saltwater and aggressive substances. Acids from food and so on need to be cleaned.

There are different theories on the internet on what people call galvanic corrosion and this may be a completely wrong word all together but what people mean is the change or build up on the aluminum liners and dividers. This is a problem in some cases and the reason for why this happen is uncertain. To look for the reason why may be too difficult. My only conclusion is that it is not the best material. It is lightweight, strong and got many good qualities but it is not perfect for a SAK.

With sand and dirt in the mechanism then we can get scratches in the surface on the aluminum and in many cases it is not possible avoid this. Anodized or not this can happen anywhere on the surface on the liners and dividers. This can also happen between the plastic scale and the liners.

A Swiss Army Knife requires the fine mechanism and precision to function and to have the best functionality. On brass or nickel silver liners it is different and I cannot remember seeing any of this happening on these materials. The material may get a patina but this is not negative.

To have the best surface possible on all parts is important for the cleaning and use of a SAK.

Some materials are active and by this I mean that there is a change happening on the surface. Patina is good but when the surface increases in size it is not good

Alox

Alox

One of the best knives ever made by Victorinox is the Alox knives. The handle is made of anodized aluminum and colored. The rivets are made of nickel silver and the dividing liners are brass or nickel silver. If some dividing layers are aluminum I do not know.

I cannot remember ever seeing the galvanic corrosion happen on the Alox models. On this category the aluminum handle is one of the reasons for why this is such an extra quality knife.

Coatings

The use of coatings

One very successful Victorinox knife is the SwissTool and this is a very strong tool with top corrosion resistance. The SwissTools are very durable. The use of black oxide coating on them can give an extra protection against corrosion but usually never needed.

I have noticed on many new knives that the use of different coatings on the functions from the factories are relative popular by many collectors. Both Wenger and Victorinox use this. This coating can increase the corrosion resistance on the tools itself or change the appearance of the SAK. I do not know if this can have a positive effect for the relations of the steel towards the aluminum liner?

For me the only conclusion is that the best would be an extra protection for the aluminum when it comes to the issues mentioned in my articles on the Officers type knives. Today there are different levels of anodizing for aluminum but this would be more costly.

 

Friction

 

 

The construction of a SAK need some oil on the friction parts mentioned in the manual. The best is to use food grade oil or a mineral oil type.

 

The best functionality on a SAK is when it is clean and oiled. During hard use then there may become some friction towards the aluminum liners from the springs or functions. There is flexibility in the construction and it is not rare that it may flex slightly during a twisting motion when using the screwdrivers for example. Without oil then the functions and springs may rub on the liners and cause some wear on the surface on the liners. The best is some oil on the friction parts mentioned in the manual. Just some is needed and this will also cover the outer parts of the springs as well and protect.

 

The spring

 

There is flexibility in the construction and the Swiss Army Knife is always in the elastic region.The spring and the quality of it is important.

When opening and closing all the functions for many years can cause some wear on the liners depending on how well and good the precision and assembly of the riveting is. Oil on the friction parts will not only protect the surface between the tang and the spring it will also protect against wear on the liners.

 

 

 Pins

Durability of the SAK

The Officers knives are riveted with brass pins. The use of bushing serves two purposes.

When using the SAK with relative hard hand will or may cause it to flex but this is no problem because the flexibility is there. The hard twisting motion when using the screwdrivers may cause the edges of the hole in the functions to wear against the pins. Sand or dirt in combination with twisting or just opening and closing the functions may cause wear in the form of a groove in the pins. This is usually never a problem.

If the construction is bend and by this I mean used so much force that it goes passed the flexibility then this may cause problems for the functionality.

 

riveting

Surface

The best surface on the aluminum is the glass like anodized surface on them. This will prevent the wear or friction further. The original surface from the factory is fine but it could be better.

The pressure from the springs on the tang and backside of the blade on the functions is important for not only holding the functions in place but also function as the support for the blade when using force against the edge. The spring will function as a guide unit as well. The riveting is important on the SAK so the correct functionality and moving of the functions can be done. To hard and it will be difficult to open and close and to little will cause play in the functions.

 

Disruption

Some of the knives that are most affected by the disruption or buildup on the aluminum surface are the most modern knives within 20 years. This is usually always on neglected or hard used knives but never on an unused knife. What is most surprising is when this happens between the liner and plastic handle.

 

Disruptions

 

On this picture you can see one of the worst examples of disruption on the aluminum liner. This is supposable from a used knife. The buildup has mixed with substances and became impossible to use. Opening or closing was almost impossible. To open and close the blade or functions many times only results in bending or forcing the riveting out.

This is absolutely not a problem most people should worry about and with the maintenance no problem at all.

Usually on damaged knives the disruption and change on the aluminum is only in a spot formation or a small river like disruption outwards.

PS When bending or pressing the rivet bushing outwards the knife will function but without good functionality. It will not break apart. I took it apart on purpose to see.

 

 

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