Choosing the Right Cutoff Knife for Your Application

Industrial knives must hold up to repeated use over long periods while producing consistent cuts. Factors that influence the performance of manufacturing cutoff knives include the arrangement of teeth and the blade material. Manufacturing knives must match the intended purpose to maximize efficiency and reduce premature wear. With multiple materials and configurations for the teeth available, cutoff knives have wide variations in their longevity and applications across different industries. Find out how to select the best options for various cutoff knife uses.

What Are Cutoff Knives?

Cutoff knives are straight blades with teeth along one edge to optimize either a chopping or swinging motion for cutting. Due to their uses for chopping, these knives also go by the term guillotine blades. When searching for industrial knives, guillotine and cutoff are interchangeable terms.

Whether known as guillotine blades or cutoff knives, these tools perform in several sectors to cut through various materials. The products the blade cuts best depend on the layout of the teeth and the material used to create the knife.

The arrangement of the teeth along the edge and their shapes dictates the cutting properties of the cutoff blades. Some tooth arrangements create clean, even cuts through tough materials. Other configurations reduce strain on the blade, machine and material.

Blade materials also impact the longevity of the knives. Various forms of steel have different properties to prevent corrosion, ensure durability, allow for precision cuts, withstand extreme temperatures or stand up to friction. Ceramic offers a non-corrosive alternative to steel for some applications. The best type of material for the cutoff knife blade depends on how you will use it, the products that it cuts and the environmental conditions it must withstand. Not all blade options will handle slicing in high temperatures or cutting through moist products.

Matching the tooth configuration to blade material will produce a well-balanced blade that creates the specific type of cuts you need through the products you use it on with repeated use.

Cutoff Knife Applications

Several industries use cutoff knives for operations. The straight blade format – as opposed to a circular blade – works well for cutting through several types of products from food to fiberglass. Sectors where cutoff blades appear include:

Within the above sectors and others, guillotine blades serve the need for cutting different types of materials from thin foil to thick fiberglass. Because the type of knife you use can affect how well it slices through a given material, choosing the right cutoff blade for your application determines its capabilities in your facility. Selecting specific tooth configurations and materials improve the balance between cutting efficiency and blade longevity.

  • Fiberglass: Fiberglass appears in several sectors, from automotive to home construction. This material has unique properties that make it hard but also friable when cut. Precision cutting often requires customized blades to create clean cuts through the material. To preserve the longevity and cutting power of our custom-created fiberglass cutoff blades, we coat each blade. The coating ensures the teeth stay sharp longer. For cutting fiberglass, common knife materials include high carbon steel, 52100 steel, solid carbide and stainless steel.
  • Film or foil cutting: Film and foil are thin materials. These products need sharp blades to cut through thin sheets without tearing. A well-designed cutoff knife can create the precise cuts required. By preventing tears, these blades reduce wasted foil or film. Less waste saves material and prevents workers from spending time reworking poorly cut material.
  • Foam cutting: Like fiberglass, foam can crumble when cut. Choosing sharp cutoff knives with the right tooth configuration to create the cleanest cut possible reduces waste when working with foam. Both dense and light foam products benefit from using cutoff knives for slicing.
  • Food and meat slicing: Food and meat products require food-grade materials for safety. The specific type of food your operation cuts will determine the material and blade configuration. Guillotine blades work well for fruit and vegetable processing and slicing meats and fish. A free test cutting after ordering ensures that your customized cutoff knife will work for your food processing application without premature dulling or food waste.
  • Plastic cutting: Bulk plastic or solid plastic parts need a sharp, strong guillotine blade to cut through them repeatedly. Cutoff knives should have teeth configurations to match the specific cutting needs of the plastic. Denser plastics have different cutting requirements than thin plastic films.
  • Rubber converting: Cutting bulk rubber for converting or preparing it for the conversion process requires using strong blades. Cutoff knives can handle slicing through tough rubber. Durable materials and teeth that hold their edge over repeated uses ensure that your knives perform as needed for rubber converting.

Cutoff Blade Materials

The choice of materials used for cutoff knives is one of the most critical decisions to make. The best material for an application depends on the levels of heat, cold and moisture in the cutting area and what the blade needs to cut.

52100 steel: The 52100 steel is a type of high-carbon steel designed to maximize longevity with repeated uses. The high ratio of carbon in the steel increases the hardness of the blade. Therefore, the edge retains its sharpness over time. Though resistant to corrosion and wear, 52100 steel is best not used in high-moisture applications or environments.

  • Ceramic: Ceramic creates a precise edge that rarely needs sharpening and never corrodes. Its properties allow blades made from this material to make very thin cuts when required. Film and foil are frequently cut with ceramic blades. Compared to high carbon and stainless steel, ceramic is a harder material. However, it is also more susceptible to chips and breakage if dropped.
  • CPM 10V: CPM 10V is unique steel that includes vanadium and is made with the proprietary Crucible Particle Metallurgy process. This metal resists corrosion and withstands cold and hot temperature extremes. For long-term, high-impact cutting processes, this metal can stand up to the stress, providing a long-term investment for your operation.
  • D-2 tool steel: D-2 tool steel is air-hardened steel that contains both carbon and chromium. The carbon enhances durability, and the chromium increases the metal’s ability to resist moisture or rust damage. Air-hardening of the metal provides abrasion resistance. As a tough material, D-2 tool steel is popular for many industrial cutoff knives.
  • High carbon steel: Adding carbon to steel raises the metal’s hardness and longevity. High carbon steel guillotine blades last longer than their counterparts made of stainless steel. The durability of the metal also allows these knives to retain an edge after repeated sharpening. One drawback to high carbon steel is the slight chance of the material chipping if dropped. Its durability, longevity and hardness overcome this minor setback in applications that demand such factors from a cutoff knife.
  • M-2 high-speed steel: M-2 high-speed steel contains vanadium and tungsten to enhance its strength. This strong metal can stand up to the friction of metal cutting. It also continues to cut well after exposure to high temperatures, whether from friction or the cutting material. For applications that require high levels of hardness and resistance to friction and heat, the M-2 high-speed steel is a good option.
  • Solid carbide: Solid carbide contains tungsten in the steel formula for extra hardness and durability. Solid carbide can create precise cuts or cut through large amounts of material without binding. You can sharpen solid carbide knives multiple times without losing the edges. Because solid carbide knives are highly durable and can cut a wide range of materials with high precision, this material is highly popular for industrial knife applications.
  • Stainless steel: Stainless steel resists staining and rusting thanks to its inclusion of chromium. Its corrosion resistance makes stainless steel metal of choice for high-moisture environments such as food processing. Though stainless steel is less flexible than other metals, reducing the effectiveness of sharpening, it still offers a cost-effective material for industrial cutoff knives.

Choosing the Right Cutoff Knife

When selecting knives for industrial applications, consider the heavy use the blade undergoes. This factor will play a role in choosing materials and tooth arrangements for the knife.

Blade profiles are another aspect of cutoff knives to consider. Narrower blades with small radii for the individual teeth produce the cleanest cuts. However, as the blade and radii narrow, the teeth become more susceptible to wear, resulting in a shorter life for the knife. Consulting with blade engineers about the best size for the individual teeth results in an ideal balance between longevity and efficiency.

The blade configurations also matter in how long the blade lasts and its cutting precision. Understand the differences among the various blade configurations to choose the best option for your application. The following are common blade arrangements or profiles used for guillotine blades:

  • Hi-low V: Hi-low V blades have V-shaped teeth that alternate between taller and shorter tips while the bases are all even with each other, so the full length of every tooth cuts through the material with each pass. The varying tooth heights reduce stress on the cutting machine by only having a few teeth enter the material at once. Using a hi-low blade results in a cleaner cut and less equipment strain than standard V blades.
  • L style: Another tooth configuration of cutoff knives is the L shape. This shape has right angles, making it distinct from V blades. If you already have equipment that uses this type of tooth configuration, send us the blade, and we can recreate it through our expert reverse engineering processes at our facility in the United States.
  • Peg style: Peg-style blades have wide separations between teeth. These types of blades fulfill specific industrial needs. If you have existing cutoff blades with a peg-style tooth configuration, let us recreate it through our reverse engineering process to ensure that you get an exact replica.
  • Scalloped: Scalloped blades have smoother surfaces than toothed cutoff blades. The smoother undulations of the blade surface make these blades ideal for creating smooth cuts. Scalloped edges on a blade can help prevent the tearing of some materials, such as when used as bagging knives.
  • Slant tooth: Some applications may benefit from having teeth in the cutoff knife that have one angle steeper than the other. Standard V blades have each tooth with the same angles on either side. Slant teeth have one side at a different angle than the other to create a variation on the standard cut that a standard V blade can make.
  • Standard V: Standard V blades have all the teeth at the same height and depth. This uniformity allows for smooth cutting of film, foil, paper and more. For cutting through thicker material that could strain the machinery, vari-depth V blades or hi-low V blades may be better options than standard V shapes. Use a free test cutting with the blade to determine if a standard V blade will sufficiently address your cutting needs.
  • Vari-depth V: Vari-depth V blades have V-shaped teeth with uneven bases, allowing for cutting through tough materials with less strain on the blade and cutting device. Differing tooth depths mean the cutting-edge stress applies to only a few spots of the blade at once, and the equipment only has to push a few teeth through the material each time, reducing force on the equipment and blade. Compared to standard V blades, vari-depth V blades offer cleaner cuts with a lower chance of blades bending or breaking. If you have used a standard V blade in the past and had it prematurely wear out or bend, consider upgrading to a vari-depth V blade.

Find the Right Cutoff Knives for Your Industrial Applications at York Saw & Knife

Finding the right cutoff knives for your application includes identifying the material and tooth configuration you need. At York Saw & Knife, we offer solutions for any industrial guillotine blade needs. We don’t require minimum amounts for orders and provide free quotes. Our engineers can work with you to create a customized cutoff knife for your application. You also get a free test cutting and fast lead times for your order.

Selecting customization options for your industrial knives will determine the longevity and cutting capability of your machinery. Therefore, you should find a manufacturer who will offer high-quality blades and expert advice on choosing the right blade. Trust us at York Saw & Knife for carefully engineered and in-house-made blades for your operations. Contact us today to request a quote for industrial cutoff knives.