Tool steel is any of various carbon steels and alloy steels that are particularly well-suited to be made into tools and tooling, including cutting tools, dies, hand tools, knives, and others. Their suitability comes from their distinctive hardness, resistance to abrasion and deformation, and their ability to hold a cutting edge at elevated temperatures. As a result, tool steels are suited for use in the shaping of other materials, as for example in cutting, machining, stamping, or forging.
There are six groups of tool steels: water-hardening, cold-work, shock-resistant, high-speed, hot-work, and special purpose. The choice of group to select depends on cost, working temperature, required surface hardness, strength, shock resistance, and toughness requirements. The more severe the service condition (higher temperature, abrasiveness, corrosiveness, loading), the higher the alloy content and consequent amount of carbides required for the tool steel.
Tool steels are used for cutting, pressing, extruding, and coining of metals and other materials. Their use in tooling is essential; injection molds for example require tool steels for their resistance to abrasion- an important criterion for mold durability which enables hundreds of thousands of moldings operations over its lifetime.
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