Nylon is a popular material for knife handles because of its strength, impact resistance, chemical inertness and stability at high temperatures. All these characteristics are enhanced by adding glass fibers to the nylon to create a new material, glass reinforced nylon (GRN).
GRN is a member of a new group of high-tech materials called composites. By combining basic substances with reinforcing fibers or particles, composites improve on nature by increasing all the good points of traditional materials. The glass fibers used to produce GRN are long, textile-type strands with a lubricant to keep them from abrading each other and added binders and coupling agents to help them bind with the nylon. This reinforcement at least doubles most of the physical properties of the nylon, increasing tensile strength from 10,000 psi to more than 30,000 psi and deflection temperature from 170 degrees F to about 500 degrees F. Similar increases can be seen in dimensional stability, fatigue endurance and resistance to the hydrocarbons found in gasoline, machine oils and other industrial products.
These improvements make glass reinforced nylon a perfect choice for knife handles. The property known as creep, movement of the blade in its fitting in the handle, is greatly decreased by glass reinforcement. Deformation under repeated impacts, another common problem with conventional nylon, is also improved.
Since these are some of the perennial difficulties of knives, using GRN for knife handles is a logical choice. The knives last longer, resist wear better and remain usable over a broader range of conditions than those with conventional nylon handles. Knife owners who are familiar with the shattering, impact warping and other problems of conventional nylon will be relieved at the improved performance of GRN.
These knives can be used over a wider range of environmental factors than other knives. The ability to retain shape under high temperatures will be useful in some functions, as will the resistance to solvents, fuels and other caustic chemicals. The lifespan of the knife is increased, making it a better investment. In survival applications where any equipment failure can have life-threatening implications, glass reinforcement can make a crucial difference.