Tool steel grades are evaluated to identify the series of treated conditions and hardening finishes to fit in their designated applications and uses.

Tool Steel GradesTool steels are also machined and forged in a series of conditions depending on the chemical and mechanical properties that each tool steel grade has. Tool steel grades may differ in strength, toughness, hardness, and resisting properties. Thus, these common distinctions among tool steel grades result in varying and multiple uses and applications that can be initiated with tool steels.

Tool steels are actually a variation of alloy and carbon steels that are perfect to be made into tools. The suitability of tool steels to multiple applications is due to their resistance to deformation and abrasion, their distinctive hardness, and their ability for holding cutting edges at high levels of temperatures. Thus, tool steels are most commonly used in shaping and cutting other materials.

Tool steel grades are also classified in different groups that differ in the way they are treated and machined to produce the desirable steel product. Below are the defining properties of tool steel grades:

  • Water-hardening group
  • Cold-work group
  • Shock-resisting group
  • High speed group
  • Draw & form dies
  • Hot-working group
  • Special purpose group

Though tool steel grades may vary from one another in their featured properties, tool steels are mainly used for extruding, cutting, pressing, and coining of materials in general.

A2 medium air hardening tool steel; capable of deep hardening slitters, die shapes, and similar applications
A10 keeps distortion at minimum level upon hardening thread rolling dies and intricate die shapes
D2 high chromium, high carbon type tool steels; highly wear resistant; deep hardening alloy thread rolling dies and blanking and forming dies
D3 has high wear resistant; deep hardening alloy; has high comprehensive strength forming rolls, draw dies, blanking and forming dies, powder metal tooling
D5 capable of deep hardening; has low resistance to heat softening blanking and forming dies, thread rolling
H11 chromium, hot work type tool steels; has good toughness; low in carbon content aircraft landing gear
H13 contains strengthening agents; softening resistant at high temperatures die casting, die work, extrusion dies
H21 has tungsten content; toughness reduced used for tolling and hot working dies
H26 softening resistant; has higher tungsten content forming dies and hot extrusion
M2 higher version of M1 tool steel; has better wear resistance cutting tools
P20 mold steel; has high hardness and toughness injection molds and die casting dies
W1 simple high carbon steel; easily hardened by quenching and heating cold heading, metal cutting tools, embossing taps and reamers, cutlery