The realm of manufacturing is vast, complex, and ever-evolving. Essential to the success of any manufacturing process is the proper selection of cutting tool materials, each with its unique properties and benefits.

As materials engineering has progressed, so has the array of cutting tool materials available, ranging from traditional high-speed steel (HSS) to advanced ceramics and PCBN. Understanding which material is best suited for your specific application is crucial to maximising productivity, durability, and precision. In this comprehensive guide, we take you on a journey exploring the various materials used in machining and cutting tools, analysing their properties, advantages, and ideal applications so you can make informed decisions for your manufacturing process.

  1. High-Speed Steel (HSS)

High-Speed Steel (HSS) is a widely used cutting tool material, favoured for its versatility and affordability. HSS is an alloy often combined with elements such as tungsten, molybdenum, chromium, and vanadium, which enhance its hardness, wear resistance, toughness, and heat resistance. There are different grades of HSS, such as M2, M35, and M42, each providing specific characteristics depending on the alloy composition.

HSS cutting tools are suitable for a range of applications, including milling, drilling, and turning, across various materials like aluminium, plastics, and mild steel. Although HSS cutting tools are not as efficient as carbide tools in high-speed, high-feed rate applications, they perform exceptionally well in low to moderate machining operations with excellent tool life.

  1. Carbide

Carbide is another popular cutting tool material, offering significant advantages over HSS in terms of hardness, wear resistance, and overall tool life. Carbide tools can withstand higher cutting speeds and feed rates, enabling increased machining productivity. The base material for carbide tools is usually tungsten carbide, frequently combined with a binder, such as cobalt or nickel, to improve toughness.

Carbide tools excel in machining operations on hard materials like steel and cast iron, as well as high-speed applications, making them a go-to choice for industries requiring high precision and efficiency. Two main types of carbide tools are solid carbide tools and indexable insert tools, with advantages such as simplified tool management and reduced costs for the latter.

  1. Polycrystalline Diamond (PCD)

Polycrystalline Diamond (PCD) cutting tools rank among the most advanced and durable cutting tool materials available. PCD is a synthetic material created by sintering diamond particles with a binding agent, such as cobalt. This combination results in unsurpassed hardness, thermal conductivity, and wear resistance.

PCD cutting tools are used for machining non-ferrous materials, composites, and abrasive materials such as aluminium, copper, and graphite, along with wood and wood based materials. With their exceptional wear resistance, PCD tools boast a significantly longer tool life compared to carbide or ceramics, reducing tool replacement and downtime costs. However, the higher initial investment in PCD tools may be a limiting factor for smaller businesses or less demanding applications.

Discover the Perfect Cutting Tool Material with Prima Tooling

Selecting the most suitable cutting tool material for your machining processes is crucial for maximising efficiency, precision, and reducing operational costs. By understanding the unique characteristics and advantages of each material, you can make informed decisions that are tailored to your specific manufacturing needs and requirements.

Partner with Prima Tooling to ensure your cutting and drilling tools in the UK are not only of the highest quality but are also the ideal materials for your machining processes. Our team of experts is always on hand to provide guidance in selecting the perfect cutting tool materials to optimise your production and achieve excellence. Contact Prima Tooling today, and let’s take your machining capabilities to new heights with cutting tool materials that are designed to deliver results.