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Sandvik and Philips cooperate in shaver development

Sandvik Coromant UK : 12 January, 2004  (Company News)
Innovation and new product development are the lifeblood of consumer product manufacturers and where competition is fierce, market share is the critical measure of success.
Consumer products giant Philips has enjoyed major success with its Philishave shavers. Philips is the world market leader in electric shaving. The Philishave Cool Skin Additive Shaver, the first shaver using shaving cream for enhanced shaving comfort, and Quadra Action and Sensotec shavers, designed to be cleaned and rinsed in water are both products which have helped to create a new generation of electric shaving.

Behind the launch of such products lies years of process and materials development. This has led to a close co-operation between Philips and materials specialists from Sandvik Materials Technology in the development and manufacture of a unique stainless strip steel, called Sandvik Nanoflex™, for use in key shaver components - the stationary cutter head, the rotating cutting knife and the hair lifter.

The initial development of the Cool Skin Electric Shaver, designed to be used with a shaving cream and then cleaned in running water placed extra demands on corrosion resistance and called for a steel which also would have strength as well as formability.

Co-operation between Sandvik and Philips R & D departments led to the sampling and trialling of several materials and different processing techniques over a period but failed to find an existing suitable strip material. A nanotechnology based stainless wire material, developed for the manufacture of needles, particularly medical needles, displayed encouraging characteristics and was produced specially by Sandvik as a strip material. Process development of strip steel by Sandvik has achieved a balance between formability and hardenability i.e. its capacity to be heat-treated to final strength. Sandvik claims that the resulting Sandvik Nanoflex™ strip product is unique in achieving high strength, good formability and high corrosion resistance. It is ideal for parts with complicated forms and shapes.

Over a period of about 3 years, a combination of Sandvik's metallurgical and material development capability and Philips sophisticated manufacturing and processing techniques resulted in finished components which met all of the performance criteria. The initial 'soft' material for forming into a finished blade shape, involving advanced electrochemical machining methods, requires a subsequent and complex heat treatment to increase the inherent material strength. Development by the two companies has resulted in a joint patent for heat treatment, which is carried out in the Philips production process.

After the launch of the Cool Skin model with shaving cream, Philips launched Quadra Action and later on Sensotec. These models can be rinsed in running water. Further development of the cutter head manufacturing technology offered improved shaving performance.
Co-operation between Philips and Sandvik is ongoing for the next generation of models, which involve ever more complicated shaving technologies. Continued development is refining and developing processes to produce more sophisticated and improved material properties.

Says Peter Gossas, President Sandvik Materials Technology 'Our co-operation with Philips in developing Sandvik Nanoflex™ is one of the best demonstrations we have of our key strengths. Our policy is to be a key player in niche markets and, working in close co-operation with our customers, to use our research, development and manufacturing skills to provide materials solutions. This is a classic example of where close co-operation has benefited both companies.'

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