Tool steel has to be much tougher than a regular alloy. The materials are hard, abrasion and impact resistant, and they’re designed to defy wear. All things considered, then, machine dies and punches are obviously substantially harder than those workpiece alloys. That’s because they must be able to deform that softer metal in some meaningful manner. Still engrossed by material resilience issues, just how tough is this steel material? In truth, it’s indomitably rigid.
Indomitable Tool Steel Properties
It’s not difficult to turn steel into a super rigid material. Special heat treatment furnaces carry out this task all the time. Carbon, perhaps as much as one-percent of this alloying element, binds with the malleable ferrous substance. Exotic additives, like vanadium and chromium, further fortify the tool steel. At the top of this alloy family, tungsten carbide punches and drill bits absolutely defy mechanical stress. Subjected to impact, abrasion, or any other conceivable material-undermining force, tools made from this alloy won’t chip, nor will they suffer a blunted business end.
Demonstrates Three-Axis Resistance
If an energetic punching operation could be viewed in slow motion, we’d see how distressed that business end becomes when the hammer falls. The high tensile steel transfers that kinetic energy forward. The blunted rear end of the punch is tortured by the abrasive action. Meanwhile, the tapering front smashes down until it indents the surface of a workpiece. That action is repeated again and again, yet the tool doesn’t dull or deform. It’s the innate shear strength of the steel material that stops the punch from fracturing. As for how the alloy withstands the power of those impacts, that’s a property we associate with wear resistance. Basically, this tool steel is imbued with impact toughness. Likewise, a drill bit rotates while cutting inwards, but the competing stress forces don’t deform the cutting drill in any way.
Surely, if the tool steel was completely rigid, all of this kinetic power is going to travel even faster through the tool. In reality, metallurgical disciplines don’t work like that. No, if the tool edge is too rigid, it becomes brittle. The service life of a drill bit, die, or punch would be severely compromised if the steel base was left in this overly rigid condition. To avoid this undesirable material property, the source metal is alloyed with carbon and those exotic metals we mentioned earlier. Furthermore, the tools are quenched and tempered in contrasting manners. Water or oil, air or heat, the heat treatment cycle augments the already strengthened tool edge.