What Type of Material Can Be Best Used as A Cutting Tool?
What are the most common materials used as quality cutting tools? What are their composition and uses?
- High-speed steel. White steel is a tool with high hardness, high wear resistance, and high heat resistance. It is commonly used to create complex thin-edged, and impact-resistant cutting tools. The manufacturing process of white steel tools is simple and easy to grind. It accounts for a large portion of metal machining. It has a high number of alloying elements like tungsten, molybdenum, and chromium. It has a high metal removal rate and loses its hardness at around 650°C. A coolant is needed to increase its tool life since it can be used many times after re-sharpening.
- Cemented carbide. It is an alloy material composed of refractory metal and bonding metal, produced by powder metallurgy. It has high hardness, wear resistance, toughness, heat, and corrosion resistance. It is composed of tungsten, tantalum, and titanium carbide with cobalt as a binder. You can pass it through a temperature of 500°C, and it will remain unchanged. Its cutting performance is better than high-speed steel, with durability multiplied by about a dozen times. Cutting speed is also increased to four to 10 times. High cobalt tools are used for rough cuts, while low cobalt tools are for finishing. They are precision cutting tools.
- Diamond. It has the highest hardness and best thermal conductivity among minerals. Its cutting edge is very sharp, while the roughness of the edge is very small. It has a high thermal conductivity and melting point. It has excellent abrasion resistance, low friction coefficient, and low thermal expansion. Three kinds of diamond cutters are natural single-crystal, integral artificial single-crystal, and diamond composite. They can be used on very hard materials like carbides, nitrides, and glass. They are not often used in machining steel because of their high cost.
- Cubic Boron Nitride. It is a synthetic material developed in the ’50s that was bonded with a catalyst under high temperature and pressure. It is the second hardest material after the diamonds. It has high hardness, great wear resistance, chemical stability, thermal stability, and no chemical reaction to iron. It can also be used to process steel and hand machines.
- Ceramics. They have high hardness and wear resistance in high temperatures, with little reduction in bending strength. It has high chemical stability, is chemically inert, is resistant to corrosion, and has good oxidation resistance at high temperatures (around 1800°C). However, it has high brittleness, low strength, and a weaker bending strength than cemented carbide. Most are composed of aluminum oxide and silicon nitride. They provide excellent surface finishes.
- Carbon Tool Steel. It is one of the inexpensive cutting tools that can be used in low-speed machining operations. It is composed of 0.6-1.5% carbon and a very small amount of Mn, and Si. High carbon steels are resistant to abrasions and can maintain their sharp cutting edges. It possesses good machinability but loses its hardness at about 250°C. It is used to twist drills, milling tools, turning and forming tools, and soft materials like brass, aluminum, and magnesium.
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