Understanding Ceramic Blades

The ceramic clipper blade is a bit of a fad. It gets talked up as God’s gift to groomers everywhere with its harder edges, less heat, and the promise of a high-tech return to a new and improved stone age.

This isn’t to say that ceramic blades don’t work. The problem is that they are less practical than the regular steel version that they are seeking to replace.

A high quality ceramic clipper blade can work like a dream at first, but the blades have some issues that make them unsuited to the high volume, day-to-day work of a professional groomer.

Durability

While ceramic blades won’t be corroded by cleaning agents, they can wear down from regular use as quickly or even faster than the steel ones do. You run into problems as the blades dull and the clipper starts to tear the fur instead of cutting smoothly, hurting the dog and creating an ugly finish.

Many sharpeners don't have the tools or the know-how to sharpen ceramic blades. This means that you get stuck buying a new one as soon as the factory edge wears off, which can happen within weeks of regular use.

Fragmentation

Aside from normal regular wear, ceramic blades have a particular weakness that can be a big problem in dog grooming: they are brittle. Ceramic blades are made from vitrified zirconium oxides, making them a type of glass. While it’s a hard material that is very flexible as far as ceramic goes, it chips when it comes under stress.

If your clipper blade snags so much as a grain of sand, it can chip the edges and create serrations that tear at the dog’s fur. Furthermore, dog hair is much harder than human hair, containing about 20 times as much silica. On a bad day, going through a tough snag is enough to damage the blade on its own.

Heat

Ceramic is a poor conductor, which means that it doesn’t effectively transfer heat the way that metal does. This has led to the misconception that ceramic doesn’t get as hot as steel. It gets just as hot.

This marketing driven perception of ceramic blades often leads groomers to neglect basic things like properly oiling their equipment, which leads to a hotter blade and greater wear on the edge.

Maintenance

Preventing the wear and the heat on these blades requires pro-active measures, just as any steel blade does. Always dab oil on the crucial friction points before each use to prevent the ceramic blade from wearing down steel components.

You have to make sure your dog is always freshly washed and tangle free before you use a ceramic blade, or you risk damaging it.

None of this is prohibitive, but given that the steel blades work just as well, and are far more forgiving, there is simply no reason to ever use a ceramic blade.

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