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Types of Cutting Tools Materials

Cutting tools are essential in manufacturing industries. They are used in machinery for cutting, shaping, and removing material from a workpiece. The quality of cutting tools can significantly impact the efficiency and accuracy of the manufacturing process, and hence, careful selection of cutting tool materials is vital. This article will discuss the different types of cutting tool materials and their respective properties.

8 Common Types Of Cutting Tools Materials

1. Carbon Steel

Carbon Steel

Carbon steel is one of the earliest materials used for making cutting tools. It is an alloy of iron and carbon, with carbon content up to 1.2%. Carbon steel tools are inexpensive and can be hardened to improve their cutting performance. However, they have low heat resistance and lose their hardness at temperatures above 250°C. This makes them unsuitable for high-speed cutting operations.

2. High-Speed Steel (HSS)

High-Speed Steel

High-speed steel is an alloy of iron, carbon, tungsten, chromium, vanadium, and sometimes molybdenum. HSS maintains its hardness even at high temperatures (up to 600°C), which makes it suitable for high-speed operations. The high heat hardness allows the tool to cut faster without losing its sharpness. However, HSS tools are more expensive than carbon steel tools and are not as hard as some other types of cutting tools.

3. Cast Alloys

Cast Alloys

Cast alloys are also known as cast cobalt or Stellite tools. They are made by casting a mixture of cobalt, chromium, and tungsten. These tools are highly resistant to heat and wear, making them suitable for high-speed operations and for cutting hard materials. However, they are difficult to manufacture and hence are more expensive than HSS tools.

4. Carbides


Carbides are a group of cutting tools made from a mixture of a metal (like tungsten, titanium, or tantalum) and carbon. The most common type is tungsten carbide, which is extremely hard and maintains its hardness even at high temperatures. Carbide tools can withstand high cutting speeds and are resistant to wear, but they are brittle and can break easily if mishandled.

5. Coated Tools

Coated Tools

Coated tools are typically made from a base material (like carbide or HSS) coated with a thin layer of another material (like titanium nitride, titanium carbonitride, or diamond). The coating improves the tool's heat and wear resistance, allowing it to maintain its sharpness for a longer time. However, the coating can wear off over time, and these tools are more expensive than their uncoated counterparts.

6. Ceramics


Ceramic cutting tools are made from a mixture of aluminum oxide and silicon nitride. They are extremely hard and can withstand high cutting temperatures, making them suitable for high-speed operations. However, they are brittle and can break easily if mishandled. Ceramic tools are generally used for finishing operations, where the workpiece is almost at its final shape, and only a small amount of material needs to be removed.

7. Cubic Boron Nitride (CBN)

Cubic Boron Nitride

CBN is the second hardest material after diamond. It is highly resistant to heat and wear, making it suitable for cutting hard materials at high speeds. However, CBN tools are difficult to manufacture and are hence very expensive.

8. Diamond


Diamond is the hardest known material and has excellent heat conductivity. Diamond cutting tools are highly resistant to wear and can maintain their sharpness for a very long time. However, they are extremely expensive and can only be used for cutting non-ferrous materials, as ferrous materials can cause the diamond to degrade due to a reaction with carbon.


Each of these types of cutting tools has its own set of properties, making them suitable for different types of cutting operations. The selection of a cutting tool should be based on the type of material to be cut, the speed of the operation, and the cost of the tool. It is also important to consider the tool's heat and wear resistance, as these can significantly impact the tool's performance and lifespan.

Understanding the properties of different cutting tools can help manufacturers select the right tool for a particular job, improving efficiency and accuracy in the manufacturing process. The development of new materials and coatings continues to expand the capabilities of cutting tools, promising even greater efficiency and precision in the future.

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