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  • High-speed steel is a material used in the manufacturing industry to make cutting tools. The material is “heavily alloyed and ferrous”. What does that mean? Essentially, the steel is created from several other metals and contains a large amount of iron. There’s also a clue in the name; surprisingly, high-speed steels can cut materials at high speeds.


    Benefits of high-speed steel


    With high-speed steel being an alloy, it has different elements included, all of which have beneficial properties. For example, Chromium is one element that is included as it’s well known for being a hard element; this lends the steel to its cutting tool application and makes the tools far less likely to break. Another included element is Tungsten which has an extremely high melting point. Within steel production is tempering; metals are heated to a high temperature and then cooled in the air; this process is known to strengthen the alloys. Tungsten’s high melting point is, therefore, a benefit here.


    How is high-speed steel different from tool steel?


    The simple answer to this is the chemical make-ups are different. As well as Chromium and Tungsten, other elements are included in the construction of steel. Amongst these are:


    Molybdenum is an element known to improve a material’s toughness; simply, it makes the material harder to break. Additionally, Vanadium makes the material more robust and immune to erosion. These elements are linked to metal’s strength and hardness and help give their tool-making properties. The combination of these elements is what distinguishes the two steel types from each other. If the total of Molybdenum, Vanadium and Tungsten accounts for 7% of materials and Carbon accounts for 0.6%, the steel is classed as high-speed. Different materials have different applications, and depending on what you are producing, you will require different steel. Sheffield Gauge Plate is a proud high-speed steel and tool steel supplier, so if that’s what you’re interested in, please find more information on our website!


    High-speed steel applications:


    Why is high-speed steel so suited to making cutting tools? The short answer is because it’s hard-wearing. The metal’s strength and hardness mean tools are more resistant to fractures and strong vibrations than other steel alloys. What’s more, the steel’s properties mean you can create sharper blades. Essentially, machines can work with harder materials and produce higher quality outcomes because of high-speed steel. Blades can also be made into various shapes resulting in various tools being created; gear cutters, drills and reamers are just some of the possibilities! Are there any other benefits for people using high-speed steel? Definitely! The metal’s strength means machines don’t require as much force to operate, which means you can save on energy consumption costs!


    If you think you could use high-speed steel for your next project and want to find out more, give us a call on 0114 233 5291.


    Cutting angles


    When it comes to cutting tools, an object’s rake angle can be both positive and negative. A positive cutting edge is present when the leading-edge angle and the required cutting object are 90-180 degrees apart. Typically, tools with a positive rake angle are weaker and prone to breakages due to the pressures they’re subjected to. As it’s so strong, you could use it for positive rake angle tools. Since a large force is required to misshape the metal, the likelihood of breakages is reduced compared to other tool steels.


    Types of high-speed steel


    Sheffield Gauge Plate is an M2 high-speed steel supplier; this variety is depicted as the ‘standard’ high-speed steel. M2 high-speed steel is the most commonly used in the industry. This alloy is, in fact, as hard as tool steel but with more properties lending itself to a cutting tool application. M2 steel is not only tougher than the tool equivalent, but it also has a higher flexural strength. Basically, the material can maintain its shape when presented with a higher force.


    M2 Steel Alternatives


    There are alternative options available. M50 and M7 are options that can be utilised where flexing is requiring. However, they cannot be heated to the same extent as other available options. Finally, M1 is the weakest variety of high-speed steel; the grade is vulnerable to shock and, like M50 and M7, also has lower heat restraints.


    Cobalt alloys


    A further high-speed steel variant is M42; Sheffield Gauge Plate is proud to be an M42 high-speed steel supplier. A major benefit of M42 steel is that it can be heated to greater temperatures than other alloys; this is thanks to the addition of Cobalt and a higher proportion of Molybdenum than other alternatives. Essentially, when in use, the steel can reach greater temperatures without experiencing any problems. This property is excellent in terms of time-saving when manufacturing. The additional hardness of the material means you can use higher cutting speeds; therefore, you can complete industrial tasks faster. A further advantage of M42 steel is that its extra hardness lends it to those hard to machine materials. An alternative to the M42 variant would be M35 high-speed steel. Both have Cobalt added to the alloy. However, M35 only has 5%, whereas M42 steel has 8%.


    So that’s it, you asked, “What is high-speed steel?” and we answered. Please don’t hesitate to contact us for more information or assistance surrounding your purchase options and steel requirements if you like what you hear.