Richlite and Raffir: Two Synthetic Materials on the Rise
Synthetics continue to surge in light of the growing scarcity of some natural materials.
According to Chris Hartman, a 37-year veteran in the family business at Masecraft, the buzz about two synthetic materials, Richlite and Raffir, continues to grow.
“These product lines are totally different from each other, and they work like other materials that our customers already use, so the transition is easy,” he maintained.
Distributed domestically by Santa Fe Stoneworks, Raffir is a resin-preserved material used in jewelry and other products also.
“It works well in fine handles and accessories in which aesthetics are of great importance,” Chris advised. “There are several categories. The first, Raffir Fiber, is a composite material of neutral plant fibers cast in resin.
“The second, Raffir Metapol, has aluminum fillers shining through a deep resin matrix. Raffir Noble is a composite material with fine brass and bronze-mesh layers encapsulated in a translucent epoxy resin. The last two categories, Raffir Fossil and Raffir Wood, are genuine rare fossils and fine-grained wood blocks that have been filled with a unifying and strengthening resin through a high pressure process that stabilizes the materials.”
The finished Raffir fossil and wood materials maintain the original structures of the untreated substance while obtaining the mechanical advantages of the homogeneous resin compound.
The Raffir materials are worked with the same tools that most knifemakers already own, therefore little or no additional investment is required.
Richlite is a durable, versatile and sus-tainable material made from recycled, resin-infused paper and pulp derived from trees that have been harvested responsibly, Chris says.
Complete with Forest Stewardship Council Certification by the Rainforest Alliance and GREENGUARD Certification, it is also antimicrobial, which is a benefit in food preparation.
“Richlite is tough enough to build skateboards and skateboard parks, so it will take a beating and hold up to the elements,” he added. “Richlite is made in the USA and actually costs less than other like materials. It is similar to working with Micarta, G-10 or carbon fiber, and many of our customers are familiar with them. Customers appreciate that they are no longer inhaling carbon-fiber or fiberglass dust, which some of our customers just don’t like dealing with.”
Other Synthetic Knife Handle Materials
New composite laminates and hybrid materials are on the horizon, and their growth is steady.
“Even though they are mass produced,” Chris said, “they can still be individually unique. They are stable and available in sizes that can easily be used in CNC cutting for production, or can still be cut and worked with standard tools and be handmade.”