Zafirro's blades of sapphire pare hair with micrometer-level precision

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Zafirro's blades are manufactured from lab-grown, industrial white sapphire(Credit: Zafirro)

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Unless Movember is a year-round lifestyle choice, you're probably shaving on a regular basis. And with all things being equal, people with more and/or thicker hair tend to cycle through replacement cartridges faster. Well, those folks will be glad to know that the latest shaving tool utilizes science and technology to create blades that are harder, sharper, and last much longer than steel. Zafirro's Z2 razor is designed with a pair of white sapphire blades to cut hair and reduce disposable waste.

When it comes to hardness, sapphire places second only to diamond. Each of Zafirro's sapphire blades are manufactured in order to create a tip that is only 80 atoms thick. The resulting edge is approximately 10 times sharper than a surgeon's scalpel, or 5,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair. As such, the current crop are designed for about 6 to 12 months of shaving, with future blades having the potential to last up to five times longer.

Sapphire is hypoallergenic and, unlike steel, it doesn't oxidize or corrode. And unlike the Skarp laser razor, people (mostly company employees) have been shaving with Zafirro's sapphire blades for years.

If some of you are experiencing a sense of deja-vu, it's probably because you've previously heard of Zafirro. When the company unveiled its original razor back in 2011, the cost of manufacturing sapphire blades was still prohibitively expensive. The team simply went with it, launching the first product with a handle made of iridium (US$100,000) and the second one of gold ($18,000), limiting production to small runs. Today, the Zafirro Z2 razor can be found at a much more affordable price.

"It is indeed lab-grown industrial white sapphire that we use for the blades, the same type as utilized in some LEDs, solar panels, and in the camera lens for the iPhone 6," says Zafirro founder Hayden Hamilton. "In fact, the growth of these high-tech uses are a big part of what's helped bring the price of sapphire down, since there is a lot more volume available these days. That's the main driver for our cost decreases. And since it is lab-grown, there should be plenty for the whole world to use."

The company expects to sell replacement cartridges for less than $49, with the final price to be determined by overall demand/volume. Its goal over the upcoming years is to extend the lifespan of the sapphire blades while also lowering cartridge prices. Until that time, users won't likely be able to save much against annual household shaving costs. However, the Zafirro Z2 razor can certainly help reduce the amount of disposable waste ending up in landfills.

The Zafirro Z2 is currently funding on Kickstarter, having raised 37 percent of its $250,000 goal in three days, with another 46 days left to go. A pledge of $179 gets you one Zafirro Z2 razor with cartridge, saving $120 off the planned $299 retail price.

The handle material has yet to be decided upon, although the company is likely considering surgical stainless steel, possibly with titanium and/or tungsten accents. Once the handle design has been set with respect to higher-volume needs (Zafirro wants to stick as close to the current style as possible but understand that some modifications may be necessary), manufacturing can start. If everything proceeds according to plan, backers can expect shipments of the Zafirro Z2 razor sometime between October and December, 2016.

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