Benefits of Glass Reinforced Nylon Handles

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.

One thought on “Benefits of Glass Reinforced Nylon Handles”

  1. I have an old model Spyderco FRN folder that I have had for many years which I used in the 90’s and later on hunting trips in the Gila Wilderness in my neighboring state of New Mexico. It was hunter orange which is great in the woods but not on city streets. I have always wanted to use it for a everyday carry knife but it stood out being orange. I had read on the knife blogs where people have dyed their FRN knives. So I gave it a try. IT WORKS and doesn’t wear off. Here is the way I did it. I took a large Del Monte green bean can which had be thoroughly washed and has enough height to stand up the average folding knife in. I cut a piece of stiff wire and placed it though the open folder’s thumb hole to prevent the FRN material from resting on the bottom of the metal can under high heat. I then placed the cold can on my gas kitchen stove and added one 8 ounce bottle of common Rit Royal Blue liquid dye to the can. I then added one cup of white vinegar to the dye in the can. I then added 4 ounces of purified water to the mix. I heated the mix not allowing the temperature of the liquid to rise above 160 degrees as indicated by my heat probe. Then place the opened and locked blade FRN folder into liquid dye mix monitoring the temperature closely for one hour. At which time I turned the heat off and allowed the mixture with the knife handle still submerged in the mixture to gradually cool to room temperature. Then I removed the knife and rinsed it under cold clean water. It turned out the color of my Wrangler blue jeans which was exactly the result I was aiming for. Note: When I first removed the knife from the dye mixture it was a purple/grape color. But not to worry. As the deep dye in the FRN handle dries (cures) the blue gets very dark with the purple/grape color disappearing. Now the formerly orange FRN handle is deep blue. The same color as new blue jeans are. You have to look very close to see it clipped on the front pocket of jeans. Note: During the heat dying process add enough purified water to submerge the entire knife handle. Stir gently during heating.
    Here in West Texas.
    Publish is desired, please.

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