How to make Valyrian steel
25 April 2019
Ben Smye, head of growth at materials search engine Matmatch, explores the materials that inspired GoT’s Valyrian steel.
Valyrian steel is one of the few known substances that can kill the monstrous White Walkers in Game of Thrones (GoT). The secret to forging Valyrian steel, however, is seemingly lost in the Doom of Valyria and so creating new Valyrian steel weapons has been deemed impossible. Luckily the show’s fictional threat is no real-life concern but here, Ben Smye, head of growth at Matmatch, explores the materials that inspired GoT’s Valyrian steel.
In the television series, Valyrian steel weapons serve as heirlooms in the various noble Houses of Westeros. Since the destruction of Valyria, only skilled smiths can re-forge Valyrian steel weapons by melting down existing ones, but it is a difficult process. With today’s technology, engineers can consider a material’s properties and source it directly from suppliers – without having to go to the ends of the world to find it or dragon caves to mine it.
In comparison to normal steel, Valyrian steel is thought to be stronger and lighter in weight. When shaped into bladed weapons, it’s believed that the steel can retain a sharp edge without the need for honing.
Although Valyrian steel is a figment of George R. R. Martin’s imagination, it is repeatedly described as having a distinctive and visible rippled pattern along the blade. This description, along with its other legendary traits, is like the real-life material Damascus steel.
Damascus steel is distinct in appearance and is also described as having a flowing water pattern running through it, just like Valyrian steel. The pattern is believed to be the result of hampering hot steel material with powdered charcoal into thin layers and folding it repeatedly. We say believed because, strangely, the method for crafting Damascus steel was also lost thousands of years ago and modern interpretations of the material cost twice as much as traditional or high-carbon steel.
Today, there is a huge number of materials available. Manufacturers can meet incredibly high standards of malleability and tensile strength by manipulating microstructures and chemical compositions to an extremely high degree of precision. For steel alone, Matmatch have 20,000 entries of steel on the platform. Each steel form is accompanied with its own precise description of the chemical, thermal and mechanical properties for that material composition.
In recent years, Matmatch have seen a growing number of advanced high-strength steels (AHSS) being manufactured. To be considered an AHSS, the yield strength must exceed 550 MPa. Created using precisely controlled heating and cooling treatments, if Valyrian steel was to exist today it would be more than likely similar to one of these compositions.
While White Walkers pose no threat to our world and the real-life alternative materials available do not have the same magical properties as Valyrian steel does in GoT, platforms like Matmatch make the process of sourcing alternative materials a lot simpler.
If you’re considering using Valyrian steel for a project, you can compare types and identify suppliers using Matmatch’s online materials database. We can’t guarantee your search will be successful, but you just might find the ideal, real alternative to it.
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