The handles and jaws are made of steel, which is an alloy of iron and carbon. Many different types of steel are used to make concretor’s nippers and pliers, including carbon, tool and chrome vanadium. The handles of some concretor’s nippers and pliers have a plastic covering to give them more grip.
What is an alloy?
An alloy is a metal that has been made by combining two or more metals to produce a final product which has better properties than the pure elements from which it is made. Bronze is an example of an alloy.Steel can also be alloyed with other elements (often referred to as alloy steel). This is made using more than 50% steel in combination with other elements, although the steel content of alloy steel is normally between 90 and 99%.
Carbon steel is available in three forms: low carbon steel contains less than 0.2% carbon, medium carbon steel contains between 0.2% and 0.5% carbon, and high carbon steel has more than 0.5% carbon.
Of these, only high carbon steel is suitable for use in making concretor’s nippers and pliers. This is because, unlike low and medium carbon steel, high carbon steel can be heat treated to further harden the material. This is important as a material is only capable of cutting another material that is softer than itself.
Tool steels are alloyed steels that possess high strength, hardness, wear resistance and toughness under impact, making them ideal for use in many tool applications. There are many different alloying elements that are used in the production of tool steels. Some of the more common ones are tungsten, molybdenum, vanadium, nickel, manganese, chromium and carbon.
By varying the ratio and quantities of these alloying elements it is possible to alter the final properties of the tool steel, making it suitable for use in different tool applications.
Chrome vanadium is a type of spring steel that was pioneered by Henry Ford for use in the Model T in 1908. It is an alloy of steel that contains approximately 0.8% chromium and 0.1-0.2% vanadium, which improves the strength and toughness of the material when it is heat treated.
Chrome vanadium is a very hard metal that has excellent resistance to wear and fatigue. It is now most often seen in tools sold in the European market.
PVC is the common abbreviation for polyvinyl chloride, which is a plastic polymer. PVC handles for concretor’s nippers, pliers and other tools are produced using a manufacturing method called dip moulding. PVC handles can be made in a wide range of colours, and are flame retardant and UV (Ultra Violet) resistant.
TPR (thermoplastic rubber) or TPE (thermoplastic elastomer) is a type of thermoplastic which combines the advantages of rubber with those of plastic. Some concretor’s nippers and pliers will have handles that are made of two types of plastic: one will be a thermoplastic such as nylon and the second a TPR or TPE.
These are sometimes referred to as being bi-material or dual or multi-component handles. The nylon is harder and used to give the basic shape of the handle while the the TPR/TPE provides more grip and a softer, cushioned feel.
What is the best material for concretor’s nippers and pliers to be made of?
As there can be a large overlap in the various properties of different types of steel and manufacturers closely guard the exact make-up of the steel they use, this is an impossible question to answer. Instead you should check that the concretor’s nippers and pliers you wish to buy have been hardened and, if you intend to cut nails or hard tie wire, check the hardness is greater than that of the wire or nails you will be cutting.