The most common mistake made when selecting tooling material is letting low price drive the selection process over productivity and tool life considerations. When price alone is the driving influence, it usually ends badly with everything grinding to a halt. Parts aren’t being made, quite often there is a cascade of downstream consequences as well.

There are no shortcuts in producing good tooling. Lack of attention in any of the following areas can result in poor tool quality, poor part quality, low yield or worse – tool failure:

  • Tooling design
  • Material selection
  • Tooling manufacturing process
  • Heat treating and finishing

Today, we are going to talk about material selection. There are three main attributes that must be balanced in selecting the right tool steel for a given job; toughness, wear resistance and hardness. Some questions to consider when selecting include:

  • Is the tool steel capable of developing the properties (i.e. toughness, hardness, edge retention) needed to cut, punch or form?
  • Is the tool steel suitable for the working environment it will be working in?
  • Does the tool steel need to be shock resistant or wear resistant or both?
  • How much life do I need from the tool?

There is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to tool steel, but there are plenty of grades to choose from, depending on the job at hand:

  • High-speed tool steel – High-speed tool steels are designed primarily for cutting tool applications. The term “high-speed” was used when these steels were first invented. The term refers to the fact that the steels could be used as cutting tools at high turning speeds on a lathe. Click here to read more…
  • Hot work tool steel – The hot hardness (hot strength) of H13 resists thermal fatigue cracking which occurs as a result of the cyclic heating and cooling cycles in hot work tooling applications.
  • Cold work tool steel – Cold work tool steels are designed for tooling applications where the service temperature is under about 600°F (316°C). In selecting cold work tool steels, the metallurgical factors that ultimately affect tool performance and longevity must be considered. Click here to read more about cold work tool steels.
  • Mold tool steel – 420 MQ Plastic Mold Steel is a highly-refined, mold quality stainless steel that is engineered to exhibit excellent polishability, good corrosion resistance, and good wear resistance. Click here to read more…

The following chart illustrates grades of high speed tool steel offered by Hudson Tool Steel based on toughness, resistance to wear and ease of machining in the annealed condition. You can view all the grades we specialize in by clicking here.

Hudson Tool Steel
High Speed Tool Steel Comparison

high speed tool steel

Call 800-996-0411 if you have any questions about your tool steel needs, application suggestions, technical information, heat treating data or other material related questions. One of our experienced sales staff will be happy to help you.

For the past fifteen years Hudson Tool Steel has been supplying customers around the country with the very best tool steel, backed with exceptional service and technical support. Hudson Tool Steel stocks all standard grades and sizes of tool steel as well as high speed steel and specialty grades.

Thanks for reading-

Jonathan Dean
General Manager
Anaheim, CA