Monday, December 11, 2023

What is a Safety Cutter, Stiletto or Blade?

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Since the appearance of the novel cutter or stiletto invented in 1956 by the Japanese businessman Yoshio Okada, the then recurring problem of the loss of edge of the blades or knives of the knives used at the time, both in industry and in trades and the home, it seemed resolved. Okada had designed a retractable blade knife, pre-cut into sections or segments of fixed length that are easily removable when replacing a worn section with a new one, a mechanism today known as Snap-off and common in commercially available cutters.

Cutter Snap Off

Due to the great savings in time and money that it supposed, Okada’s invention was more than welcome in the packaging, leather, textile, graphic, electrical, food, construction, handicraft industries and all that activity that involved the opening bags and cardboard boxes, breaking the package wrapper, and cutting drywall, for example.

However, solving one problem soon created another of great concern: accidents caused by this useful cutting tool. Despite the safety offered by the retractable mechanism that housed the blade in the body of the cutter, whether due to improper handling or design flaws, the cutter still contributes to common and frequent injuries to the cutter today. workplaces, such as hand lacerations, cuts and puncture wounds.

The highest incidence of these accidents occurs when the cutter blade deviates from the material to be cut. Another common cause occurs when at the end of the cutting process the blade is projected out of the material to be cut. The exposed blades in the place where the cutter is stored, as well as certain inappropriate handles that make it difficult to grip and cause blisters on the hands after prolonged use, are also a cause of accidents.

Attentive to the regulations of Safety and industrial hygiene, whose rigor has been increasing throughout the world, technology has introduced a series of improvements in the traditional cutter creating the so-called safety cutters, equipped with mechanisms that tend to minimize accidents derived from the use of this tool.

Although they vary according to the manufacturer, the improvements incorporated in the safety cutters they provide, in general, the following characteristics:

  • Design of another type of quick-change blade.
  • Secure anchoring of the leaf in its respective fixing and guide elements.
  • Automatic retraction of the blade when it is no longer in contact with the material to be cut.
  • Safe blade replacement.
  • Ergonomic design of the body and handle of the cutter.
  • Provision of highly versatile tools for every need.

Let’s take a closer look at these features, with examples of tools that use them.

Blade type

The security introduced in traditional cutters has been to the detriment of the mechanism Snap-off, instead supplying individual blades of stainless steel or carbon steel, similar to razor blades, with one or two edges, rectangular or trapezoidal in shape and variable design, depending on the use for which they are intended, which are also housed in the handle and whose replacement is extremely simple, without tools and is done in a matter of 4 or 5 seconds.

The following table details the main types of leaves, although there are more, for safety cutters.

Kind of leafs

Types-of-Leaves The holes and notches that we see in the leaves can have a variety of designs that respond to the perfect anchorage of the blade inside the cutter. This not only limits the risk of the blade loosening and projecting out of the material, but it also offers various possibilities of positioning the blade in the cutter to make the desired cut.

Automatic blade retract mechanism

This ingenious smart device provided in many safety cutters incorporates a spring-activated blade by means of a displacement button on the handle of the tool. Once the blade loses contact with the cutting surface, it automatically retracts into the body of the cutter, as we can see in this video:

We can appreciate that the blade change is done safely, conveniently and quickly. In addition, many cutters have a magazine inside their body that allows you to store several spare blades and use when necessary, as shown in the video below.

Ergonomics, versatility … and even more safety

The Ergonomic design of the safety cutters, characterized by padded, non-slip handles, versatile for both right- and left-handed use and brightly colored to facilitate their location in toolboxes or in the workplace, has contributed not only to the reduction of accidents, but also to a extremely comfortable prolonged use.

The search for even greater security conditions has prompted the design of cutters with hidden blade, which makes them ideal for cutting, among others, plastic wrap and strapping, shrink wrap, plastic foil, leather, nylon, belts, sacks, bags and tape cutters in a variety of applications such as dispatch and receiving departments with high traffic, mail rooms, assembly lines, and inventory departments.

The cutters with hidden blade they generally employ square edge sheets much like a razor blade, and although these blades are permanently exposed, the tool’s own hooked design minimizes its hazard. The following video provides an example of this tool.

As if the offer of safety cutters were scarce, the trade also has those that allow cuts in any direction, that is, forward, backward, straight or curved. It is about the rotary cutters, that they use circular sheets designed to roll on the material to be cut and are suitable for both right-handed and left-handed users.

Rotary cutter

Rotary-cutter These characteristics make the rotary cutters the ideal tool for cutting industrial, craft and technical fabrics, leather, vinyl, fiberglass, fabric rolls and high modulus composites, and can also be used in automated cutting applications. The variety of circular blades available makes it possible to achieve decorative or uneven edges or finishes. The use of rotary cutters eliminates repetitive use of scissors, which, in addition to being slow and expensive, causes fatigue and is extremely unsafe. While the blade of rotary cutters is exposed during cutting and does not retract automatically, their circular shape eliminates the possibility of stab injuries from sharp points.

Safety rules when using cutters

Regardless of the safety features incorporated in the cutters, it is evident that every user must follow a series of rules that will undoubtedly make their cutting experience much more pleasant.

  • Always keep body parts out of the cut line. Before making the first cut, visualize the cutting path of the blade and during the cut keep your eyes on the object, never looking away or allowing a distraction.
  • Place the object to be cut on a stable surface to prevent it from moving. When possible, hold the object with a device other than the hand.
  • Keep the cutter blades sharp and replace them when they are dull or nicked. In addition to contributing to greater safety and better quality of cut, the sharp blades eliminate the excessive effort required by the user when cutting to compensate for a worn blade.
  • Wear personal protective equipment while cutting, such as resistant gloves (prevent injury if a blade slips) and safety goggles (They prevent injuries to the eyes in case of breaking the tip of a blade).
  • Always choose the right tool for the job. A utility knife should not replace the function of a chisel, awl, scraper or screwdriver.

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