Different Tool Steel Properties and Grades

January 15, 2019

The following conclusion was reached by applying a little common sense. Think of it, of a fabrication floor that works on hardened steel. Tool steel can’t hold its form for long, not unless it’s more durable than the workpiece it’s being used upon. Again, that piece of reasoning didn’t require much brain energy, just a little common sense. Now, having established the facts, where do we go from here?

Determining Tool Steel Characteristics

Denser than workpiece steel, tool steels are incredibly wear resistant. The business ends of such tools are exposed to unimaginably harsh abrasive forces, yet they hold their cutting edges. Also, since impact and abrasive forces generate heat, tool steel must be immune to heat. Just look at one of these engines of destruction in action if there’s any doubt over this effect. Pushed to the limit, perhaps driven by a heavy hydraulical system, a steel drill bit or die can glow red with heat. Fortunately, oil-fueled cooling nozzles exist to counteract this effect.

Classifying the Types of Alloy-Strengthened Tool Metal

Punch and die tools use impact energy and extrusion forces to subtract finely shaped metal blanks. Elsewhere, abrasive turning forces are wearing down a drill bit. On a high-speed tool, the heat generated by a tool is inviting wear. Again, cooling fluids slow this phenomenon, but they can’t stop fatigue. Combating the wear and tear, molybdenum strengthened steel and tungsten carbide tools deliver enhanced durability. Heat treatment science takes tool toughness even further, perhaps by oil hardening or air cooling the granularly modified steel until it’s denser and fatigue resistant. Carbon diffusion technology adds the final nth degree of hardness to the already formidably toughened material.

The Different Tool Steel Grades

Standardized codes inject ambiguous steel properties with order and structure. Expect to see number-letter codes assigned to each tool steel family member. The Rockwell Hardness Scale has become something of a benchmark here, with each number receiving an “HR” prefix. HRD2 tool steel is a commonly sourced member of this super-hardened group. Look for its presence in Rockwell Hardness Testing tables and in datasheets, where the hardened steel is broken down into a set of key properties. D2 tool steel, just as one example, is an abrasion resistant steel carbide with a chromium-rich base and a carbon diffused material grain.

Capable of holding their form and cutting edge, even when the tools are pushed hard 24/7, the differently classified steels are labelled with alphanumerical codes. See the various alloy datasheets for more information on their tooling capacities. Armed with this sheet of data, we can look at a metals’ composition, physical attributes, and even at its heat treatment history.

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