After many months and a couple of false starts, the new Paradigm DE has arrived. Rechristened “Diamondback” for the distinctive diamond pattern on the handle, the razor is machined in the US from 303 stainless steel. The gap is .8mm, and it weighs 114 grams. It’s great to be here with WCS, and I am looking forward to our collaboration on this release.
The question of how a razor shaves is always subjective, but we shot for (and I believe achieved) the objective which always informs Paradigm designs: maximize efficiency while maximizing smoothness. These goals don’t always harmonize that well, as a more efficient razor is necessarily more aggressive. This doesn’t have to be in a harsh or biting way, but as the factors which create efficiency are modified in a positive direction, primarily gap and shave angle, it’s difficult to retain the same mild, smooth quality. The solution lies in modifying other aspects of the geometry, in particular the blade guard.
As many of you will know, this razor was prototyped in stainless, but the actual release was to be in aluminum. I was intrigued by the thinness of the blade guard in the Raw Shaving model 18. It gave a good initial skin stretch and a very nice shave. And so the aluminum iteration had a thin guard, and it worked quite well. However, in the change back to stainless, I was disturbed by the face feel, just seemed a bit too — ahem — aggressive. We went back to the drawing board, and the bottom plate and guard were made thicker. The idea was to decrease pressure by creating a larger surface area on the guard in contact with the face. The appearance of the bottom plate was also streamlined. The RS18 is a great razor, but I think that the thicker guard is beneficial, and the added skin stretch is not missed.
Speaking of aluminum. It’s light, but in the appropriate design, it’s a terrific material for a razor. Our Artist Club was prototyped in aluminum, and it shaved great. What is light in the hand is also light on the face, and it’s easy to shave with minimal pressure. The reason we backed off the aluminum was that we couldn’t find a good protective coating, at least not without additional R & D. The most straightforward solution is anodizing, but it doesn’t work well on alloy 7075, which is high in copper. We had trouble with flaking, which made it a non-starter. A literature search revealed that 7075 simply does not anodize well. Same problem with the 2XXX series of aluminum alloys. Solutions other than anodizing were also tried, but came up wanting.
We’d like to get back to aluminum however, so stay tuned. Alloy 6061 anodizes fine, but it’s bit soft for my taste. 7075 is harder, and the threads have greater longevity. Hard anodizing shares the same flaking problem on 7075. So we’ll probably come up with a new approach.
For now, 303 stainless it is. The corrosion resistance is excellent, but we recommend removing the blade, rinsing and drying the razor, and replacing the blade loosely after every shave. The same would be true for 316, 17-4, or any other grade of stainless.
This razor will be produced initially exclusively for WCS. A second run will be available immediately thereafter for direct sale from Paradigm.
We expect it to arrive at our warehouse on the week of September 16th.
(Any changes will be noted on here)
I’m Andy Andersen of Paradigm. Just wanted to weigh in and explain why we chose 303.
A single glance at the razor will reveal the high degree of detailing in the handle. The handle is not simply turned on a lathe and knurled. Rather, there are secondary milling operations. That costs time and money.
Would the increased expense of 316 purchase any increase in performance? 316 contains molybdenum, which yields somewhat better corrosion resistance. In potable water, the difference is not meaningful. For a harshly corrosive environment, 316 is the superior choice. The question was raised as to whether the real issue regarding corrosion might be the alkaline pH of soap. The answer is no. Stainless steel generally resists basic (alkaline) attack better than acidic attack. And soap is just not that basic at a pH of 8-11 or thereabouts. High quality soaps such as those used for shaving tend to be at the lower end of that range, closer to neutral.
A question has also been raised concerning the tolerances achieved in 303 versus 316. 316 presents no insurmountable obstacle to achieving tight tolerancing and fine features, but 303 makes life easier, especially for fine features such as the diamond pattern. 303 is also less inclined than 316 to warp in thin sections. 303 is the more common choice for small, fine featured parts.
None of this needs to be taken on faith. A brief literature search on Google will confirm the information. Not every source will agree, nor even necessarily address all these issues, but those skilled in the art would tend to concur. That is the experience of my machinist, who has cut a great deal of metal. He recommended 303, and it is an excellent choice.
One final point. Stainless steel, whatever the alloy, can rust. The danger in a safety razor is primarily from the blade. The anodic potential in the blade is higher than that in the razor. In the presence of an electrolyte solution, such as tap water, electricity will tend to flow into the blade; it will rust faster than the razor. I’m sure that many of you have observed that. However, the razor can develop considerable staining as a result. A stainless razors should be rinsed and dried between uses and the blade replaced loosely, to minimize contact with the razor.