Tool Steel Terminology

A brief look at some of the common tool steel terminology used.

Abrasive Wear – The loss of material due to hard particles moving against and reducing softer particles.

Adhesive Wear – The displacement of material resulting from two materials sliding against one another while under pressure then being redeposited on the other surface leaving pits and surface projections. Also known as galling.

Alloy – A material that is dissolved into another metal in a solid solution. Also, a material that results when two or more elements combine in a solid solution.

Annealing – Refers to the heating and controlled cooling of steel for the purpose of removing stresses, softening, refining its structure or changing its ductility.

Austenite – The metallic non-magnetic solid solution of steel. This phase is achieved by heating the steel to above its critical transformation temperature to dissolve the alloying elements into the iron matrix.

Billet – A solid semi-finished round or square ingot that has been hot-worked by forging or rolling.

Breakage – Refers to the premature failure of a tool by cracking, complete failure of the tool, unrepairable.

Carbide – A chemical compound combining carbon and another metallic element, normally produced for the purpose of providing wear resistance in steels, such as vanadium carbide or chromium carbide.

Charpy V-notch test – A Pendulum-type swing impact test in which the specimen with a V-notch is supported at both ends as a simple beam and broken by the swinging pendulum. The energy absorbed, as determined by the subsequent rise of the pendulum, is a measure of impact toughness strength or notch strength.

Chipping – The fracture and subsequent breakage of steel due to a lack of toughness.

Cold-work – Plastic deformation of steel at a temperature low enough to insure strain hardening. Also, a group of tool steel grades chemically enhanced to perform at temperatures below 800 degrees F.

Compressive strength - the ability for a tool steel to resist permanent deformation when a load is applied axially. When a load is applied in compression on a tool steel, the tool will compress in the longitudinal direction and expand outward. When the load is removed the tool will return to its original shape and size. If the tool doesn't return to its original dimensions, then the load has exceeded the tool's compressive strength.

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