The Importance of Tool Steels and How They are Made

January 6, 2022

Different types of metals can be maximised by manufacturers and fabricators in producing parts and products. Some may opt for the ever-reliable aluminium, while others go for stainless steel. But one specific metal that they would often utilise in creating varying tools is the tool steel.

An Overview of Tool Steels

Tool steels are comprised of various alloying elements to ensure that they boast the needed qualities to produce parts and products, particularly hand or machine tools. Some of the most common products that are produced with tool steels are dies and drill bits.

What makes tool steels significant to manufacturers is that they have high material hardness, making them strong against deformation and flattening. They also have superior toughness, which allows them to resist chipping and breakage. They could even resist wear, abrasion, and erosion. Ultimately, tool steels can retain their shape even at high temperatures.

Common Tool Steel Grades

All grades of tool steels boast these primary benefits. However, as more alloying elements are added, some tool steel grades are known to acquire improvements over their properties. Some of the most common tool steel grades that are being used by various industries are as follows:

  • Water-hardening– Water-hardening tool steels are comprised of high carbon steels, which are known for having high hardness and affordable costs. They cannot, however, work with high heat.
  • Air Hardening– Air hardening tool steels, on the other hand, have high chromium content, making them wear-resistant, tough, and machinable.
  • Oil-Hardening – Oil hardening tool steels are known to be a general-purpose material as they are versatile. They boast high resistance to abrasion and high toughness characteristics.
  • Shock-resisting– Shock-resisting tool steels, alternatively, possess high toughness values. These values allow them to be resistant to extreme temperatures as well as shock. However, they do not boast high resistance to abrasion due to low carbon content.
  • Hot-working– Hot working tool steels, ultimately, have high hardness and toughness values. They can also handle high-temperature applications for a long time.

Creating Quality Tool Steels

Tool steels are generally produced in environments that have controlled conditions, making sure that they attain high-quality properties. They would also be added with around 0.5% to 1.5% carbon, alongside varying proportions of chromium, molybdenum, and tungsten. To ensure that tool steels can be generated optimally, professionals can generate them out of various processes.

  • Electric Arc Furnace Melting– One way to generate tool steels is by electric air furnace melting. This process is done by melting leftover metals and refining the melted metal in a separate vessel to create quality tool steels.
  • Electroslag Refining– Electroslag refinishing is another way of creating quality tool steels. This process is conducted by melting metal progressively, generating ingots that possess quality surface finish, improved ductility, and enhanced fatigue resistance.
  • Hot and Cold Drawing– Maximising drawing to create tool steels can help the materials gain great tolerances at compact sizes. During the hot drawing process, the materials are allowed multiple passes. Cold working, alternatively, limits them to a single light pass.

To know more about tool steels, you can call us at Gunna Engineering.

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