Developed and produced by the Hitachi Corporation of Japan, ZDP-189 is a particle metallurgy steel, which means that its component alloys are mixed together in powdered form before the steel is sintered to melt it. This process ensures the uniform dispersion of the alloys throughout the steel and produces an exceptionally fine microstructure.
The key alloys in the ZDP-189 mixture are carbon (3%) and chromium (20%). Its carbon content is significantly higher than most conventional cutlery steels, which average between 0.6% and 1.5%. This enables the steel to achieve an extremely high hardness, offering superior wear resistance and edge-holding properties. ZDP-189’s high carbon content is balanced by its exceptional chromium content, which increases its corrosion resistance to a level comparable to that of 440C.
The other alloys included in ZDP-189 include silicon (0.4%), manganese (0.5%), molybdenum (1.4%), and tungsten (0.6%), which increase strength, hardenability, and toughness. These alloys, along with trace elements of cobalt, vanadium, and niobium, synergistically enhance the steel’s qualities as a blade material and make ZDP-189 one of the most advanced cutlery steels ever developed.
ZDP-189 offers amazing cutting performance and edge retention and typically outperforms other steels by a significant margin. However, because of its high hardness and wear resistance, it does require more effort to sharpen. Frequent touch-up maintenance of your edge is therefore preferable to allowing the knife to become very dull before sharpening. ZDP’s hardness also reduces its toughness somewhat, so ZDP-189 blades should never be used for prying or chopping. Although it is highly corrosion resistant, it should be kept clean and dry to prevent corrosion.