Stainless steel history

I have already posted and talked some on this on the internet. Thank you for the patience.  Next is some very important factors about Victorinox and history.

In 1920, Carl Elsener, the eldest son of the company's founder, urged a steel mill to develop stainless steel that could be hardened. Following numerous attempts he produced the first stainless steel knives in Ibach. As the initial results did not correspond to his ideas, he made great efforts in the years that followed to further improve the quality of stainless steel knives. The quality of a knife doesn’t just depend on the correct alloy; it also depends on the precise hardening and annealing temperature. In 1931 the current ABB received the order to set up the first fully electric steel hardening plant in Ibach.

In the evolution and history we have the information that stainless steel was available from 1923. It was not until the early 1930s that the stainless steel had the high quality or a quality good enough for Victorinox. Also important is the “Brown Boveri sets up the world's first all-electric hardening plant for Victorinox”

Also remember that Carl Elsener, the eldest son of the company's founder did pioneering feats for this stainless steel.



The steel mill was BÖHLER EDELSTAHL GMBH & Co KG I believe from Austria. Another interesting factor is the use of drop forged Swedish stainless steel and this is mentioned from 1950 until 1970s and I am looking for the first time this was mentioned to confirm. Let me know if you got insight or corrections. The blades were forged before the modern development of the stamped out process of the rolls of steel. I have a feeling that WW2 played a role in the history with steel and the countries that could supply after the war. Also have in mind the steel crisis in 1970!

In the history we know Victorinox use steel from Germany and France.


Stainless steel update

The invention of stainless steel is a field that would require too much research; some say it was Harry Brearley in England that invented it. Another place it is mentioned: 1912 Invention of the corrosion resistant stainless steel by Max Mauermann. There are others too and for different areas on steel.

What is important is that stainless steel or corrosion resistant steel is important for the products. This is for appearance and hygiene for example. It is also important because it is much easier for maintenance issues.

Stainless steel is not maintenance free because it is only corrosion resistant to some extent. On a SAK with functions it is of great importance that the steel is the best as possible against corrosion. If not it could require very much maintenance and oil. This is depending on environment and for what use that sad.

Everyone that is into knives knows about the first stainless steel pocket knives or knives for that matter and the issues with them. The steel was not good and the performance of the steel was poor. These problems you can find around the world at the time or history windows.



When researching Swiss Army Knives you come across talk and history factors. It was mentioned that stainless steel knives was expensive and people preferred the Carbon steel ones during a period of time.

With SAKs stainless steel is one of the key factors to why Victorinox is what it is today. It is not strange that this is a milestone that is well taken care of by the Company.



In the history of Swiss Army Knives you will find that the dividing layers used in the construction can be nickel-silver, brass or aluminum.  It is important for the stainless steel what material the dividing layers are made of. It is important that it is possible to clean a SAK. The knives and products are not maintenance free and the lifespan on a knife depends on maintenance and use. Proper use and maintenance will secure a knife that can last a lifetime.

The functionality that is known on a SAK depends on the construction, precision, materials and assembly. Corrosion or changes on the surface together with dirt and substances can prevent the functionality and comfort. It is also important that the steel can hold a decent edge and that it may be sharpened easy.






Information based on various sources that included personal research, knife people, internet and other:

(I have been into some of this before)

The invention of stainless steel was probably by accident. I am personally very glad of this invention because a Swiss Army Knife must be made of stainless steel.

I do believe the Pioneering feats by Victorinox to be important and it is about making a quality material that could be used for quality knives. There were many European countries and knife manufacturers that heard about the stainless steel and experimented with this. This means you will find pocket-knives made by different knife manufacturers in the world after WW1. The first stainless steel knives and products were not up to a standard that could be called useable stainless steel. One may find old knives made that confirms this by just doing some small tests. Some was actually not useable at all.  The Victorinox stainless steel and pioneering feats are about just this in my opinion. It was about making corrosion resistant steel with properties that could be hardened and treated for a quality knife. This was difficult and it took some years to get it right. I do not know what knife company in the world that had the first stainless steel knife. I have no doubts there are pocket knives with a stainless blade before Victorinox. The most important is the early 1920s when the technology and the production methods developed correct that is the key.

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22.09 | 18:02

Hi! Very nice to hear. Best Regards Trond

22.09 | 17:01

You're welcome. I participated in the said NOCUS meeting in 1987, and received one of these knifes. Stil have it :)

13.09 | 20:43

Hi, thank you vert much! Wenger used the name Packlock for the locking mechanism also called Packlock system. Best Regards

13.09 | 16:04

Hello - Love your site - Please can you clarify if this system called the paclock or padlock system? Thank you

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