A team of South Dakota Mines students captured second place in a global knife and sword-making competition. Every component of the sword was designed and handmade by undergraduate students. The entry was also accompanied by a technical paper, poster and video produced by the team.
The student-forged cavalry saber included a type a modern steel that closely matched historic weapons of this type. The steel required careful testing and documentation prior to forging. The team spent about 110 cycles of heating and hand hammering to forge the blade. They then undertook a unique metal-treatment method that involved placing the red-hot sword in molten lead for an hour, which gave the blade a unique steel structure called bainite. This difficult tempering method included liquefying about 200 pounds of lead, which involved taking apart and melting several hundred tire-balancing weights in a safe and ventilated environment in the university foundry.
Mines was one of 20 international university teams vying for top spots at the 2022 Mineral, Metals & Materials Society (TMS) bladesmithing competition.