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If you are new to the field of metal materials, you may have questions like: What is tool steel? In this article, we’ll detail the basic properties of tool steel and provide you with a guide to choosing the right tool steel grade.

What is tool steel?
What is tool steel?

What Is Tool Steel: Properties & Guide To Choose A Right Grade

1. Basic characteristics of tool steel

Tool steel, as the name suggests, is a type of specialty steel used to make tools. It has high hardness, wear resistance, thermal hardness, and sufficient toughness, and can work under high-speed cutting and heavy load conditions without being prone to failure. Key properties of tool steel include:

  • High hardness: After heat treatment, the hardness of tool steel can reach above HRC60, ensuring its wear resistance during the cutting process.
  • Good toughness: While maintaining high hardness, tool steel also needs to have a certain degree of toughness to prevent breakage when subjected to impact or vibration.
  • Excellent heat resistance: In high-temperature environments, tool steel can still maintain high hardness and strength, and is suitable for high-speed cutting and high-temperature operations.
  • Good machinability: Tool steel has good cutting performance and heat treatment performance, making it easy to process workpieces of various shapes and sizes.

2. Classification of Tool Steel

According to different chemical compositions and uses, tool steel can be divided into the following categories:

  • Carbon tool steel: High carbon content, mainly used for manufacturing cutting tools, molds, etc.
    Alloy tool steel: A certain amount of alloying elements are added to carbon tool steel, such as chromium, tungsten, molybdenum, etc., to improve its hardness, wear resistance, and heat resistance.
  • High-speed tool steel: It has the characteristics of high hardness, high wear resistance, and high thermal hardness, and is suitable for high-speed cutting and heavy-load operations.
  • Powder metallurgy tool steel: Made using powder metallurgy technology, it has a uniform and fine structure and excellent performance.

3. How to choose the appropriate tool steel grade?

Choosing the right tool steel grade is of great significance to ensure product quality and improve production efficiency. Here are a few factors to consider when choosing a tool steel grade:

  • Working conditions: According to factors such as the material of the workpiece, cutting speed, cutting amount, etc., select a tool steel grade with appropriate hardness, wear resistance and heat resistance.
  • Processing requirements: Consider the cutting performance and heat treatment performance of the tool steel, and select a tool steel grade that is easy to process into the required shape and size.
  • Economy: On the premise of meeting the usage requirements, try to choose tool steel grades with reasonable price and high cost performance.

4. Common tool steel grades and applications

  • T10A: Carbon tool steel, suitable for manufacturing tools with low cutting speed and small cutting volume.
  • 9SiCr: Alloy tool steel, with high hardness and wear resistance, suitable for manufacturing tools with complex shapes and high precision requirements.
  • W18Cr4V: High-speed tool steel, suitable for high-speed cutting and heavy-load operations, such as manufacturing turning tools, milling cutters, etc.


As an important material for manufacturing various tools, tool steel’s selection and use are of great significance to improving product quality and production efficiency. When selecting a tool steel grade, factors such as working conditions, processing requirements, and economy should be fully considered to ensure that the selected grade can meet the usage requirements. At the same time, during use, attention should also be paid to correct heat treatment and maintenance of tool steel to extend its service life.

Thank you for reading our article and we hope it can help you to have a better understanding of what is tool steel. If you are looking for tool steel suppliers and manufacturers online now, we would advise you to visit Huaxia Steel for more information.

As a leading supplier of tool steel from Shanghai China, Huaxia Steel offers customers high-quality tool steel products at a very competitive price.

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