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What are the Grades and Applications of Tool Steel?

Tool steels are a kind of carbon and alloy steel with key properties such as stiffness, wear resistance durability, and resistance to softening at high temperatures. Tool steels contain carbide-forming elements such as Vanadium, Molybdenum, Chromium, and Tungsten. It also contains cobalt and nickel which helps to boost their high temperature performance. It is usually heat-treated to increase its hardness and is used for stamping, forming, shearing, and cutting metals and also making plastic.

Grades and Application of Tool Steel

Tool steels are classified into categories each of them has unique characteristics in terms of surface hardness, working temperature, strength or durability, shock resistance, and cost.
The categories of Tool Steel are:

  1. Water Hardening.
  2. Air Hardening.
  3. Oil-Hardening.
  4. D-Grades.
  5. High Speed.
  6. Shock Resistant.

Water Hardening

Water Hardening or W – Grades, is approximately High- Carbon Steel. As it a not much expensive, it is not much used in situations which higher temperature. This steel has a high hardness but is fragile as compared to other tool steels. Water quenching is needed for all W-Grade tool steels due to excessive bending and breaking.
Cold leading, cutting tools and scissors, engraving, lathes, and utensils are all popular applications for W-Grade tool steel.

Air Hardening

A-grade steels have a high chromium material, which out comes in a better reaction to higher temperatures. A-grade tool steels have a high degree of machinability. They also have high wear tolerance and endurance.
Dyeing and Bending, Coin, Emboss, Cold Forming, Laminating, Cold Swaging, Cold Trimming, Chipper Knives, Cold-Shear Knives, Wood-working Knives, are popular applications for A-Grade tool steel.

Oil-Hardening or O- Grade

This tool has a tough and abrasion resistant, making it suitable for a wide variety of applications. It is regarded as a general use which is making it extremely durable.
Popular applications for O-Grade tool steel.

  • Arbors and Bushing.
  • Chasers/ Thread Cutting.
  • Collets and Die Blanking.
  • Cold Forming and Cold Trimming.
  • Drill Bushing,
  • Gages and Knurling Tools


D-Grades is a high carbon, high chromium tool steel, which is formulated to combine abrasion resistance air hardening characteristics both together. Generally tool steel include forging dies, die casting, die blocks and drawing dies.
D- Grade tool steel is applications are

  • Burnishing Tools
  • File Cutting
  • Paper Cutters
  • Die Bending
  • Blanking
  • Coining
  • Cold Heading Die Inserts
  • Wire Drawing

High Speed

High speed tool steel are generally used for cutting tools.
Machine cutting methods generates lot of heat. High-speed steels, on the other hand, do not lose hardness at high temperatures, making this an ideal use for them.
High Speed tools are applicable in the following

  • Power-saw blades
  • Drill bits
  • Milling cutters
  • Gear cutters
  • Router bits

Shock Resisting or S-Grade

S- Grade of tool steel has a purpose to hold out the shock at High or Low Temperatures. It has a lower Carbon material which helps to achieve required hardness. S- Grade has highly tough impact but abrasion resistance is very low.
Following are the application of S – Grade

  • Battering Tools
  • Clutch Parts
  • Cold Swaging
  • Hot Swaging
  • Hot Trimming
  • Chipper Knives
  • Cold Shear and Hot Shear.

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What are the Grades and Applications of Tool Steel?

by Piping Mart time to read: 2 min