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inspired by this question How devastating is a weapon that can internally and rapidly cool down a section of a human body?, i wonder what kind of blacksmith method to forging or smithing a sword or other melee weapon with a metal that constantly has ice cold temperature below subzero.

  • assuming the metal still is in steel hardness or has high quality spring steel/high quality carbon steel properties outside of the melting point due to it constantly in below subzero temperature.

  • and outside of cold working method and casting method.

  • theres no specific timeline regarding the technology to forge it, so its fine if the method is a futuristic one as long its hypothetically/theoretically possible, but would be better if theres a way for traditional method though.

i am not knowledgeable about metallurgy or blacksmithing in general, just wondering is there other unique method for forging such thing, hence i exclude cold working which i think the common way to deal with this while keeping the quality/hardness of the metal that i know of (assuming it even work for such metal, so correct me if i am mistaken).

feel free to edit my grammar/sentences and the tag to be appropriate

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  • $\begingroup$ You wanna forge something that you cannot heat up, you'll have to do it in the cold. As for "science-based", there is no such material. $\endgroup$
    – Karl
    Aug 13, 2020 at 8:21
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    $\begingroup$ Forging and machining and very very different processes. Forging works by changing the shape of the piece while preserving its mass; machining works by removing chips from the piece until the desired shape is obtained. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Aug 13, 2020 at 11:53
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    $\begingroup$ You cannot say that "steel" in general becomes brittle at freezing temperatures; for example, austenitic stainless steels remain ductile at cryogenic temperatures. Steel is not one material, it is a large family of materials. For example, the SpaceX Starship is made of stainless steel exactly because it has good mechanical properties over a very wide range of temperatures, from the very cold cryogenic propellants to the very hot re-entry. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Aug 13, 2020 at 12:01
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    $\begingroup$ This depends a lot on the properties of the metal, "steel" covers a wide range, cold working that is fine for mild steel will shatter high carbon steel for instance. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Aug 13, 2020 at 13:12
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    $\begingroup$ Both are high carbon, and will just crack and shatter. generally the stronger the steel the less ductile it is. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Aug 13, 2020 at 13:51

3 Answers 3

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There are many methods of cold working metal. For example, wire and thin sheet metal can easily be bent to shape by human strength. For cold working something as substantial as a sword, human strength won't do the job, and powered machinery is a necessity.

Low-tech powered machinery, such as a water-powered trip-hammer would still be very slow. For practical work, you need Industrial Revolution technology, such as a steam hammer.

Without more information on your fantasy metal, it's not possible to say how it will behave under such treatment. It is possible to say something about the tools and dies used to work the metal. These are normally steel, and need to be lubricated for low-temperature work. How rapidly does your fantasy metal dispose of heat? If it will cool the dies to below about -40 centigrade, specialised steel alloys will have to be used; ordinary ones will become brittle and break under impact.

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  • $\begingroup$ so theres no effect or problem at all if the steel is constantly in sub zero temperature to forge using such method? $\endgroup$
    – Li Jun
    Aug 13, 2020 at 9:46
  • $\begingroup$ There are many techniques which cold-form steel. How should anyone but you know if they would work with your ever-cold fantasy metal? You can also cnc-mill your sword out of solid block, if it can be milled. $\endgroup$
    – Karl
    Aug 13, 2020 at 9:58
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    $\begingroup$ @LiJun: There are lots of possible problems, see edited answer. $\endgroup$ Aug 13, 2020 at 10:30
  • $\begingroup$ yeah, i was thinking the metal is below -40C temperature base on that other question. $\endgroup$
    – Li Jun
    Aug 13, 2020 at 10:39
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A few of things to consider.

They need electricity so may not be any good for you, but may spur some further ideas.

Electroplating let's you add layers of metal to a conductive material.

Electro-eroding is basically tiny sparks which rapidly heat up a small area of metal, vaporizing it. The bulk of the metal remains more or less room temperature.

(Electro)-Etching Either using electricity or acids you can remove metal. A mask or resist can be applied to control what gets etched. (Electro-etching is kinda the reverse of electroplating fyi)

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Like diamonds

Diamonds in nature are created by incredible pressures. Artificial diamonds are different from real ones, but mostly in being superior. They generally aren't made with pressures seen in nature. One of the most used is with chemical vapor that causes the diamond to "grow". I assume the carbon is settling down in the diamond structure by design. The other is using pressure in combination with high temperatures, which doesn't require the huge pressures present in nature.

A quick search didn't give me anything that suggests the same is possible for iron or many other metals. However, the reason might be that it's just so easy to heat the metals that no research was needed to see if this is possible. It is conceivable that techniques with some chemicals can make the metal form, or with a katalysator to mold the metal. For example, a liquid that binds itself to the metal, making it soft and easily workable. Afterwards the liquid can be drawn from it, leaving the bindings and letting the metal harden again.

Is it really possible? Don't know.

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