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

Zafirro's blades of sapphire p...
Zafirro's blades are manufactured from lab-grown, industrial white sapphire
Zafirro's blades are manufactured from lab-grown, industrial white sapphire
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Each of Zafirro's sapphire blades are manufactured in order to create a tip that is only 80 atoms thick
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Each of Zafirro's sapphire blades are manufactured in order to create a tip that is only 80 atoms thick
Zafirro's blades are manufactured from lab-grown, industrial white sapphire
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Zafirro's blades are manufactured from lab-grown, industrial white sapphire
The company's goal over the upcoming years is to extend the lifespan of the sapphire blades while also lowering cartridge prices
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The company's goal over the upcoming years is to extend the lifespan of the sapphire blades while also lowering cartridge prices

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.

The company's goal over the upcoming years is to extend the lifespan of the sapphire blades while also lowering cartridge prices
The company's goal over the upcoming years is to extend the lifespan of the sapphire blades while also lowering cartridge prices

"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.

Sources: Zafirro, Kickstarter

11 comments
Bill Bennett
Harry's fits my budget thank you.
xs400
Whatever happened to diamond tipped razor blades?
W8post
What am I supposed to understand by "...reduce the amount of disposable waste..."? The package it comes in? The used blades? Then the handle; STEEL?! Steel gets hot, well at least when you use hot water when shaving as I do. The design is cool, the handle is not [it's hot, when in use]. I've got several 'free' razors -those used to come with Christmas time, as a free gift buying your after shave- they're totally useless. Cover a part of the handle with silicon [inlay], anti slip and you don't burn your fingers.
minivini
Any metrics on what "longer life" actually means? If I can shave for a year, that's a worthwhile expenditure. If I'm spending nearly $50 per month or more, not so much.
P17
Or just spend £25 on a double edged safety razor and £1.49 for 10 weeks (10) worth of blades. Since I switched from Gilette my shave is better, my costs are lower, and my face has the closest shave ever. In the UK, 10 Gilette cartridges cost between £15 to £20. They don't shave very close either, not after having a DE Safety razor shave. Why waste money on this razor when there's a great low cost alternative? Get yourself a Muehle R89, German precision and elegance for a fraction of the cost.
bergamot69
As someone who can only use a cartridge for a single shave before disposal (and if I've gone too long between shaves I need two), I'd be interested to see if these live up to their promise.
TomHolzel
Part of what makes the Wilkinson/Gilette blades so effective is that they are coated with Teflon to make them smooth as well as sharp. Will this new blade be as comfortable?
ljaques
Yet another unnecessary use of expensive new technology. They're attempting to force feed these to the public. I'm 62 and buy a new $50 electric razor every decade or so. I don't think I'll live long enough to spend $180 more dollars on shaving items during my remaining decades. PASS! I'll bet those blades will shatter nicely if dropped on the floor, even inside the razor. Has anyone here -never- dropped a razor? I didn't think so. The coolth factor is OK, but the price kills it.
Lurkin'
@W8post - Obviously, you've never cooked with nor been around anyone cooking with stainless steel cookware. The containment portion of saucepans, frying pans, etc reach and maintain temperatures hot enough to boil water, sear meat and similar tasks, all the while their handles remain... well... handleable. While certain issues may make this razor an undesirable choice, dealing with the temperature of the water coming out of your tap is certainly not likely to be one of them.
Bruce H. Anderson
I recall some time back reading about a Japanese company that had developed ceramic blades. It seemed they were too sharp, causing some "irritation" to the tester's faces. The ceramics are also brittle, like the sapphire, and would probably need some special handling. This razor is expensive. I can get a dozen (or more) of the generic disposables for $3-$4 at my local drug store. Each lasts me a week, actually longer now that stubble is acceptable (better for my skin as well). So right now a year costs me $15 or less. For those of manly beardage like Bergamot69 there might be some semblance of a value proposition here, but it is probably a stretch.