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Decorative Steel Composition with a Crystalline Surface

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

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Technology Marketing SummaryA method for producing a new decorative steel with a crystalline surface was developed by an ORNL researcher. This invention potentially represents the first new decorative steel to be introduced since the development of Damascus steel around 1100 AD. In this invention, the type of decorative steel formed can be controlled by using crystals with different crystallographic orientations and by influencing the crystal growth process. The invention is suitable for a variety of applications where an enhanced appearance is desirable, including cutlery, hunting and military knives, knobs, auto components, jewelry, and decorative objects.DescriptionThe invention describes how to grow a steel alloy, single crystal, or large-grained crystal body. The steel alloy includes at least two of the following elements: iron, nickel, or chromium. By cooling alloy components to a temperature of less than 250 K, the steel alloy body will have a surface with a macroscopic, martensitic phase feature. Because a residual amount of the martensitic phase is preserved when the alloy is returned to room temperature, a distinct macroscopic decorative pattern is then formed on the surface of the alloy.

The crystal or large-grain crystal can be polished to a bright or satin finish after shaping and any machining. The crystal is then cooled to temperatures at or below 250 K with liquid nitrogen. Multiple cooling and warming cycles can be used to enhance the decorative surface features.
Benefits• New approach to decorative steel development
• Customization is possible by influencing the crystal growth process and managing heating/cooling cycles
Applications and Industries• Cutlery and other knives
• Decorative items
• Custom components for autos, firearms, and tooling applications
• Jewelry
Patents and Patent Applications
ID Number
Title and Abstract
Primary Lab
Application 20130042948
Decorative Steel Composition Having a Textured Cyrstalline Surface
A decorative steel article having a textured crystalline surface includes a steel alloy, single crystal or large, macroscopic grained crystal body. The steel alloy includes iron and at least one element selected from the group of nickel and chromium. The steel article has a surface characterized by a decorative, macroscopic, martensitic phase surface feature. The decorative steel article is suitable for sundry applications where an enhanced visual appearance is desirable.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory 08/19/2011
Technology Status
Development StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated

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To: Alexander G. DeTrana<>