Harry’s unveils their next generation of blades and handles. We headed to their German factory to bring you a closer look at the people and process behind their best shave ever.
It’s 7am. After a short breakfast at the Hotel Romantik in Coburg, our team piles into our rented Skoda for the short drive to Eisfeld. A sleepy, rural town smack in the middle of Germany, and home to Harry’s factory.
We’re on our way to meet Florian Schebitz, Head of Production, to check out their new, state-of-the-art production hall for a step-by-step education on how Harry’s manufactures each of their razor blades.
Following a quick safety debrief, we don steel-toed boots, hairnets, and head to the factory floor. One-part tour, one-part impromptu inspection—Florian makes small talk with operators as we move between massive, whirring machines. He spots a few technicians working on an injection molding machine, where the razor’s cartridge housing is made.
The cartridge is a combination of two materials: a rigid, clear plastic for the outer housing and a durable, white rubber for the hinges—the latter of which allows the razor to flex and contour across the face.
Florian reaches his hand into an oversized container and pulls out a handful of tiny pellets. An intricate series of tubes lining the factory ceiling feeds them into hoppers atop massive machines where color is added, then injected into a pressurized chamber to be extruded into cartridge-shaped molds. After a quick cool-down, they’re dropped onto a conveyer belt, into a large container and await final assembly.
Satisfied with the progress of the maintenance technicians, Florian leads us to a nearby area of the facility where raw steel is being unwound from giant spools and fed into various machines.
He picks up a piece of scrap, effortlessly bending it between two fingers, “You can see how soft and pliable the untreated steel is. We need to give it some grip or it would be very difficult to handle. So we punch a series of holes—600 holes a minute with this stamper—which lets our machines grasp and manipulate the blades throughout production.”
Once stamped and re-spooled, the steel is ready to be tempered. “This is what makes the blade harder, more durable. But we need precise control of heating and cooling rates in order to achieve the right balance of physical properties—timing is crucial,” says Florian.
We marvel at the matrix of gauges and meters monitoring each section of a long machine, running the length of the entire room. The metal travels through the first of two pacing machines before being heated to over 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, chilled back down to under -100, then a final warm up to about 500.
Florian explains the material needs this final warm up to mitigate against the stress it just went through, like taking a warm bath after an intense workout, “We need to relax it a bit, just a little bit. Otherwise the finished product becomes too brittle.”
In an adjacent area, spools of freshly tempered steel are being inspected and loaded into grinding machines. A rotating wheel feeds the dull-grey steel through a series of grinders to form a “Gothic Arch”, “It’s strong at the base, and sharp at the tip—which makes for a blade that is durable—while the bow-shape reduces friction to provide a comfortable shave.”
As the blades exit, Florian notes that the spool is now jet black, “The color hasn’t actually changed, it’s an illusion—due to the particular angle at which light bounces off the freshly ground steel.” From there, a cutting machine deburrs the steel—removing any excess material or rough edges—as the spool is cut into razor-sized pieces and loaded onto a magazine.
At this stage the blades are both exceedingly sharp, and very easy to damage. The magazines are treated with a two-step coating to get them ready for prime-time: a chromium nitrate plasma hardens the steel, and a spattering of PTFE—similar to Teflon—makes for a smoother shave.
The process finishes with a series of visual inspections to ensure there aren’t imperfections in the shape of the blade, while cutting force tests guarantee ideal sharpness. The meticulously crafted razors and cartridges are now ready for final assembly.
We follow Florian through the bright, sprawling space, past a storage area stacked high with finished blades, to a series of royal blue machines. “They’re bending each blade lengthwise into a V-shape. It lets us slot them into the housing at the proper shaving angle, with enough space so your razor is easy to clean.”
Five blades are individually loaded into the housing, followed by a lubricating strip. Florian directs us to a spool of aluminum wire that’s being fed into the machine, “The sacrificial anode. It’s the same principal as a battery; the anode helps guide electrons from one place to another. The aluminum will react with the charged electrons in water, causing corrosion to the anode and in-turn prevents rusting of the steel.”
A precision trimmer is then fixed to the top of the blade; a new feature for grooming sideburns and other hard-to-reach places like under the nose. After the housing is ultrasonically welded together, a conveyer of finished cartridges passes under a laser where unique QR codes are etched detailing each razor’s individual date, material list and serial number.
Finally, a series of robot arms packs the finished blades into their dispensers and loads them into crates ready to be shipped directly to your bathroom.
Robot arms, so handy.