A customer is building a tool/part and wants to know what grade of steel do I need to use? Here are some good starting questions to ask. This list doesn’t cover everything, but it will help to get the conversation started and help narrow down your options more quickly:

  1. What performance do I want from the part/tool: form, punch, strike, pierce, wear, etc.
    • a. Based on the function and performance of the part we can talk about options that will meet your performance requirements. Having this conversation is key, the more we know, the better we can assist with giving some options. Ultimately the choice is yours.
  2. Do I need wear, toughness, heat resistance or a combination of some or all of them?
    • a. In most applications, a combination of these factors are needed. Increasing wear resistance may decrease toughness and vice versa, you’ll need to determine which one is more important or if both are important.
    • b. Wear, in the most general sense, improves as the hardness increases. Toughness improves as the hardness decreases, you can’t always have both. That being said, there are some options that offer all three, wear, toughness and heat resistance. They tend to cost more due to the rich amounts of elements in them that contribute to the properties.
    • c. Knowing what the tool will do and in what environment it operates will help narrow down the selection.
  3. What kind of environment will this tool operate in?
    • a. Temperature, abrasive, high-impact, moisture and corrosion are all factors that will help the discussion to select a material. They will also help us to discuss different ways the tool can be heat treated to set it up optimally for its final use.
  4. Have any other tool steel grades been used and to what success?
    • a. Knowing what’s been attempted and how it worked or failed will help to quickly determine another option. How the failure occurred, what type of failure mode occurred and what condition the steel was in at the time are all good bits of information to know.

Our technical data section is full of useful information that will help narrow down your options. Each technical data page gives a brief explanation of the steel’s properties and some typical applications. It can be accessed here https://www.hudsontoolsteel.com/technical-data.

At Hudson, our goal is to “Make Tool Steel Easy”. We hope the discussion in future posts will help you gain a better understanding of materials and processing through asking the right questions. Have a question for us? Call us at 800-996-0411 or send an inquiry through our “Have a Question?” form. We look forward to helping you with any of your tool steel questions.