The Crack Detective

Improving safety for fencers is one of the FIE’s main roles as a governing body.

Huge steps have been made over the last 30 years to increase safety, starting with the implementation of both FIE level protective clothing and the lower level 350 newton testing standard. This is an ongoing process and has led to many improvements in safety, including:

  • The use of maraging blades
  • Implementation of 800N sabre gloves
  • Improvements to the fitting system of masks

It is little known that to further increase safety at some elite events, blades are also tested for cracks prior to the events. This mainly happens at the Olympics and World Championships where the speed and power of the fencers has the perceived greatest risk of injury from a broken blade.

The current tests uses a coil which the blade is passed through and this performs an ‘eddy test’

This basically looks for fluctuations in the magnetic field which can indicate the presence of a micro crack in the blade. Blade failures all occur at the position of a micro crack and so it is possible to predict failures before they occur. Practical testing like this can allow the event organisers to reduce the chances of a blade breaking during use.

Testing in a coil is a good start, but we wanted to look into this in more depth to find out if there was anything better. We invited testing experts who normally work in fields such aviation and the gas pipe industry to visit us and show us the kinds of systems that were being used in other industries to predict failures before they can occur.

They explained that passing a blade through a coil was a reasonable way to predict micro cracks, but was limited in its accuracy. To test something accurately by passing it through a coil, the part needs to be of a uniform cross section and the coil needs to match that cross section. In fencing where the blades are tapering this is impossible. So although this type of analysis can give some indication, it is not very accurate.

They demonstrated a pen type eddy test where you pass a probe along the blade to do a similar test, but as the probe is touching the blade it is far more accurate. The problem with this approach is that you have to do both sides of the blade and it is very time consuming.

We continued to research looking for something that was faster and maybe something that could test the whole blade at once, and we came across magnetic particle inspection.

This is an entirely non-destructive test where you magnetise the piece of steel and then apply a magnetic UV reactive dye. The dye is pulled into any cracks and then can be clearly seen under a UV light.

You can see an interesting video of it here

We sent off some blades to test and the test rig supplier were able to clearly able to demonstrate that the entire blade could be tested very quickly and micro cracks were immediately visible:

The cost for a suitcase sized test rig is around $8000 so we believe that this kind of testing could be used to significantly improve safety at high level fencing events.

The best two pin bodywire in the world – a story of digital manufacturing

Our newly released updated two pin plug, found on our FIE-approved foil and sabre bodywires, already has a considerable number of fans… but do you know the the story of cutting-edge technology involved in its making?
Today, Alex Paul, our director and mastermind behind product development, tells you all about how our latest innovation saw the light of day the fencing halls of the world. Read on after the jump.

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How to rewire your epee – Part 2: gluing the blade

We’re back with the second part of our armoury series for epeeists. In the focus today: how to glue your blade. As last week, all tips and tricks shared here are based on the experience of our Instagram girl Johanna, who prefers to have all her epees equipped with our ultra light titanium tip (if even Bas Verwijlen does, who can blame her? 😉 ) and therefore regularly rewires her blades.

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How to rewire your epee – Part 1: How to prepare your blade

It’s probably the task most fencers secretly (or even not so secretly) fear: rewiring a blade. But no matter whether it’s because the wiring of your favourite blade is damaged, you want to use a different kind of tip than the one your blade came with or you simply bought an unwired blade – there are moments in a fencer’s life when you just have to face that task and get it done. We’ve put together some useful tips for rewiring your epee. Brought to you by our Instagram girl Johanna, who regularly rewires her weapons by herself. Today’s post will focus on how to best prepare your blade for the actual rewiring.

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Care and maintenance of your foil (and epee) points

Our GT3 tips, whether for foil or epee,  are the most carefully engineered on the planet. We have gone to extraordinary lengths to try to make sure that they are reliable, robust and above all else buttery smooth.
Ahead a few tips by our director Alex Paul (with the input from top-ranked foil fencer Richard Kruse!) to help you get the best from them.


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Denver 1989. The first World Championships with electric sabre.

Prior to the 1989 Senior World Championships being held in Chicago, all firms pitching to supply the apparatus for this event were invited to a National circuit competition in Chicago to trial their F.I.E. approved sabre apparatus.

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One of the world’s top coaches goes wireless!

Ziemowit Wojciechowski is a GB Olympic Coach, Head coach of ZFW fencing club and the coach of world number 3 Richard Kruse. Recently he has taken his club into the future by switching to wireless fencing, here is what he has to say:

Four months ago I purchased 4 wireless machines from Leon Paul for my fencing club, ZFW, and I haven’t looked back.

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Wireless sets “I need info about durability, battery life, maintenance, warranty”

In response to a customer who has asked several questions that come up regularly I thought it would be useful to post some information about Leon Paul’s wireless set.

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