Hot Work Tool Steel VS Cold Work Tool Steel

By Bob Gorman posted 12-03-2019 08:23


For any successful job, you need to have the appropriate tools to achieve your goals. The same principle applies when it comes to grinding, drilling, cutting, and forming metals. To quickly accomplish these actions, you need tool steels. 

In general, tool steels are high-quality, alloy, and carbon steels commonly used to make, for example, bits, reamers, and cutters for machining metals, wood, and plastics. 

Overall, tools steels are required when it comes to shaping other metals into handy components. These tool components must have specific requirements, such as:

  • High hardness
  • Good wear resistance
  • Adequate toughness
  • High hardenability

Moreover, tool steel appears as hot work tool steels and cold work tool steels, and each comes with unique characteristics and advantages. Read on to learn their traits and what makes them different in terms of effectiveness. 

Hot Work Tool Steel

Hot work tool steels are used for delicate work at high temperatures. Naturally, this tool is cooled to room temperature after the job. Therefore, these tools are put to repeated thermal cycles. 

In general, they are used to create nonferrous metals, and iron, as well as in the manufacture of pressure die casting, forging, and extrusion. Also, they are used in the process of glass and pipe manufacturing. 

Since hot work tool steel goes through repeated thermal cycles, this thermal fatigue deliberately leads to the formation of surface cracks, which are also known as fire cracks. 

For example: if the steel doesn't have a certain level of toughness to endure the thermal strains, the surface will crack. Therefore, the high temperature is more critical to these steels than the room temperature value. 

The usage of high-quality hot work tool steels is mandatory to provide an optimal degree of high productivity and operational efficiency. These tools are always defined by their chemical composition and the technology applied during production. 

Overall, hot work steels have shallow carbon content (0.25 to 0.6%) and high-alloy type. Moreover, they come with specific physical characteristics such as resistance to heat checking, shock, and heat-treating deformation.

Cold Work Tool Steel

Cold work tool steels contain a low alloy of chromium, manganese, molybdenum, and tungsten. These steels are known as inexpensive steel, and in most cases, they are used for all types of blanking and forming gauges, collets, dies, etc. 

Cold work tools steels are used for applications that are done at room temperature, and they come with different characteristics. They have an extremely low tendency to deformation, cracks, and overall they have high resistance to abrasive water. 

The best cold work tool steel with these characteristics and much more, such as great flexibility and high hardenability, are standard for Tool steel 1.2379 / AISI D2. Furthermore, cold work tool steel is used for rollers, cutting horns, marble, tools for cutting paper and plastics, etc. 

Hot Work Tool Steel Vs. Cold Work Tool Steel

Since both cold and hot work tool steels come with unique elements and various physical properties, choosing the right one will depend on your final outcome, meaning what you want to achieve and create. That being said, selection should be made right. Therefore, think about the following factors:

  1. Will the tool steel be used for plastic molding?
  2. Will you use the tool steel in specific circumstances?
  3. Will the tools steel be used in high or low temperatures?
  4. Is high cost a concern?
  5. Do you need tool steel to work at high speeds?
  6. Will the tool steel be put to significant impacts?

Make sure that you always opt for tool steels that come from a company engaged in import, export, retail, and wholesale distribution of quality steel. This way, you will know that you will get high quality. 

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