Perhaps the most important part of an illuminated saber is its blade. And yet, the technology of the blade itself is too often overlooked or taken for granted. Many consumers and sabersmiths alike spend their time worrying about lumen ratings, wavelengths, and other aspects of the high-powered LED that serves as the saber's light source. And while the LED is indeed critically important, the blade that carries its light is perhaps just as important. Put simply, the best LED in the world is worthless if the saber's blade can't properly diffuse its light.
So at Saberz.com, we spent a lot of time refining our blades, looking for the perfect balance of diffusion, translucency, evenness, and that undefinable characteristic that just makes a saber blade look "right." Rather than offer a half dozen options of blades that are all mediocre, we spent our time developing that one perfect blade, and that's what we sell. Just one option, and it's awesome. This page is all about the result: the Z-Blade. We're going to tell you all about how it was developed, how it is constructed, and what it means for your saber.
Blade Material: Clear Polycarbonate
The first step in the blade-construction process was to decide whether the blade would be based on a clear tube, or a translucent white tube. The advantage of a trans-white tube is that it inherently provides excellent diffusion, and can produce very even light all by itself. They also tend to look great when filmed or photographed, and make an easy sell when shown off to customers. However, trans-white blades have two very serious drawbacks. The first is that they tend to wash out the colors of the LED. That means they rob your blade of saturation, something like the difference between a bright neon orange and a faded pastel orange. The other drawback of a trans-white tube is that it can't produce the look of a "core" in the same way that clear tubes with diffusion film can do.
So the Z-Blade is made from a clear tube. However, in order to bring back some of the evenness that the trans-white tubes offer, we use some very light surface diffusion on the tube itself. So instead of a perfectly clear tube, the Z-Blade has a slightly frosted appearance. In our opinion, this is the perfect balance of characteristics between clear and trans-white: the Z-Blade delivers deep, saturated colors, an even spread of light across the blade, and still maintains a slightly "cored" look. And just to be clear, our blades will fit in any blade holder designed for a 1-inch blade.
Wall Thickness: 2.0mm
Another important aspect of the Z-Blade is its wall thickness. Traditionally, sabersmiths have sold two versions of their blades: a "thin-walled" version at 1/16 inches thick, and a "thick-walled" version at 1/8 inches thick. These translate into approximately 1.5 and 3mm walls, respectively. However, each version represents a compromise. The "thin-walled" blades lighter, and have a larger interior cavity, making them better at diffusing light. On the other hand, the "thick-walled" blades are substantially more durable, but they are also twice the weight, and due to their smaller interior cavity, generally do a poorer job of diffusing light.
The goal of the Z-Blade, from the beginning, was to be the best of all worlds, and give the customer the ultimate characteristics in a single blade. Thus, we chose a wall thickness of 2.0mm, somewhere between the traditional "thin-walled" and "thick-walled" blades. The Z-Blade is very durable, yet still creates beautiful, brilliant, evenly-dispersed light. You can duel with these blades all day long, and they'll hold up to the job. At the same time, their light is more beautiful than any standard "thin-walled" blade on the market. Now, it's easy to simply say that something is durable. It's quite another thing to show it. Here's a video demonstration of just what kind of beating our products can withstand:
Fine-Tuned Dual Diffusion
The Z-Blade's primary method of diffusing the saber's light is by using a translucent film wrapped on the inside of the blade. There have been many types of films used by different sabersmiths, each of which has a slightly different opacity and unique light-spreading properties. The film we use at Saberz.com has extremely low opacity; it's almost completely transparent. That means that in order to achieve the right level of diffusion, we need to use a lot of film. But that's a good thing. It's a very good thing, because it means the ultimate characteristics of the blade can be fine-tuned with incredible precision. Each Z-Blade uses a whopping twenty-six layers of film to create the perfect, evenly-lit blade. Just a little more or a little less film would result in lower-quality light. Our film also preserves excellent color saturation, and doesn't wash out the color as trans-white blades can do.
We also use a secondary diffusion method to help spread the light through the blade. This secondary diffusion involves a mild surface conditioning of the blade, as mentioned above. The result is a near-perfect conduit for the LED light to spread evenly and efficiently over the length of the blade. We preserve as much light as possible, so that every last lumen of light-blasting capability goes into creating a blade, rather than getting sucked up by diffusion material.
The combination of our film and blade conditioning, and the careful fine-tuning of each, is the secret to creating the perfect saber "look." But that's not quite the end of the story.
Blade Tip: the Hybrid Parabolic Tip
Finally, we come to the end of the blade, both literally and figuratively. Traditionally, two options have been available for blade tips. The most common is a simple hemisphere, which creates a perfectly round end to the blade. A slightly newer alternative offered by some vendors is what's called a "bullet tip," which terminates in something of a sharp point. Neither of these seems like the ideal shape, so naturally, we decided to manufacture our own. The result is what we call our Hybrid Parabolic Tip.
This tip is our attempt to use the best aspects of all others. They are machined from solid polycarbonate into a completely custom shape that merges the traditional hemisphere with the bullet tip. It's round at the end, and has no sharp points. These tips are machined specifically for Saberz.com, and can't be found anywhere else. In fact, you probably wouldn't want them anywhere else, since they are machined to perfectly match the Z-Blade's tube stock, and won't fit in other blades.
Like most blade tips, the Hybrid Parabolic Tip has reflective mylar tape on the interior face of the tip. The mylar reflects light back down the blade, improving blade brightness and helping to maintain an even look. However, this usually comes at the cost of tip brightness; most blade tips that use mylar are completely dark. But our Hybrid Parabolic Tip DOES light up, without sacrificing ANY of the blade brightness. It's not completely illuminated, but it is easily superior to standard tips that remain totally dark. It's the perfect compromise, and one more way that the Z-Blade sets itself apart from the competition.
It wasn't easy to arrive at all the properties we wanted in the Z-Blade; the process involved a lot of experimentation, prototyping, and searching for the right source materials. And even after all that, the final product takes quite a bit of time and labor to construct. But at Saberz.com, we believe the effort is worth it. The Z-Blade maximizes potential of any illuminated saber, and we are proud to be able to offer it to you. Just to recap, here is an easy summary of the Z-Blade's specs:
- Blade Stock: Clear Polycarbonate
- Dimensions: 25mm x 21mm x 864mm (fits all 1-inch blade holders)
- Primary Diffusion: Saberz.com Blade Film
- Secondary Diffusion: Surface Texturing
- Blade Tip: Saberz.com Hybrid Parabolic
The Z-Blade is available exclusively from the Saberz.com Store.