Key Factors to Consider When Selecting A Tool Steel Grade

July 28, 2022

There is a lot of carbon in tool steels, as well as a variety of alloying elements. Physical qualities may be enhanced by these components, making them ideal for a variety of applications. Tool steel may be used in a variety of ways. Cold-working tool steels, which include oil-hardening tool steels, water-hardening tool steels, and air-hardening tool steels, are available in a variety of grades. Some other types of tool steel include hot-working, high-speed, or shock-resistant grades. The ability to identify the correct tool steel for a variety of applications is essential. The following are some things to keep in mind while deciding on tool steel:


Complex and brittle are two words that describe most tool steels. Cracks can form when components are struck by an object. As a result, shock-resistant tool steels have a higher level of toughness than conventional tool steels, making them more resistant to impact. Because of this, the hardness and fatigue resistance of various types of tool steels are reduced. It is thus only appropriate to employ shock-resisting tool steels when the steel must survive immediate and critical blows. S1, S2, and S5 are examples of shock-resistant tool steel grades.

High-Speed Capability

In some cases, the heat generated by some tools is so intense that it might cause damage. There are two ways in which this might affect the tool steel. The tool’s hardness and resistance to wear will be reduced as a result of the increasing temperature. Secondly, the amount of time it takes for the tool to wear out due to the high number of cycles it is subjected to. Steels with high-speed properties are the best choice for this application. Additionally, they are designed to be more resistant to wear to minimise tool deterioration when exposed to repeated cycles over a short period. T1, M7, and M42 are among the grades used in high-speed tool steels.

Resistance to Heat

Tool steel’s mechanical properties can be altered by exposure to high temperatures. In the case of tool steels, this is especially true because many of them have been heat-treated, and warming them can render the heat-treatment ineffective. When working with high temperatures, hot-work tool steels are a typical choice. At high temperatures, they lose less of their hardness and wear resistance. Tungsten and molybdenum are particularly abundant in this tool steel. Grades H12, H13, and H19 are examples of hot-work tool steels. For extrusion and casting dies, as well as hot shear knives, they are the most common.

Pricing & Costing

The production process may make good use of tool steels alloyed with a variety of useful constituents. The mechanical qualities of water-hardening tool steels are outstanding, and they may be purchased at a reasonable price. Carbon content is a major contributor to the better mechanical properties of these grades. To harden this tool steel, it is subjected to a water quench. W1, W2, and W3 grades of water-hardening tool steel are available. This tool steel is ideal for applications with a limited budget.


For both sophisticated and rudimentary applications, special tool steels are offered. This particular grade of tool steel is normally reserved for a select few. Many manufacturers and suppliers provide this bespoke tool steel on the market, but it is expensive. This sort of tool steel may be customised to meet the specific needs of a project.

Adaptable to Low Temperatures

To be used in low-temperature processes, tool steels for cold work are created. It is made up of oil-hardening and air-hardening tool steels. Alloying elements, such as molybdenum, manganese, and chromium, are present in greater quantities in these alloys. Compared to water-hardening tool steels, this type of steel is often more expensive. The mechanical features, on the other hand, are the most useful. D2, O2, and A7 are just a few of the grades available in this type of tool steel.

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