Cutting Tool Materials 220

This class describes common cutting tool materials and their common applications.

Class Details

Class Name:
Cutting Tool Materials 220
This class describes common cutting tool materials and their common applications.
Number of Lessons:
Additional Language:
Spanish, Chinese
Related 2.0 Class:
Cutting Tool Materials 321

Class Outline

  • Objectives
  • Important Cutting Tool Properties
  • The Balance of Properties
  • Carbon Tool Steels
  • High-Speed Steel
  • Uses of High-Speed Steel
  • Tool Treatment Methods
  • Carbides
  • Carbide Coatings
  • Uses of Carbides
  • Indexable Inserts
  • Nonferrous Cast Alloys
  • Ceramics
  • Cubic Boron Nitride
  • Diamonds
  • Common Tool Choices
  • Specialized Tool Choices
  • Summary


  • Identify important properties for cutting tools.
  • Describe the balance of tool properties.
  • Describe carbon tool steels.
  • Identify the major types of high-speed steel.
  • Describe high-speed steel tools.
  • Describe treatments available for HSS.
  • Identify the major types of carbides.
  • Describe the role of coatings for carbides.
  • Describe carbide tools.
  • Explain how an indexable insert works.
  • Describe cast alloy tools.
  • Describe ceramic tools.
  • Describe cubic boron nitride tools.
  • Describe diamond tools.
  • Explain common variables in cutting tool selection.
  • Describe why specialty tool materials are chosen.



Vocabulary Term Definition
aluminum oxide Al2O3. A common coating element for carbide tools because it reduces abrasive wear of the tool.
brazing A joining process that is used to combine dissimilar metals at temperatures lower than welding.
built-up edge The unwanted rough edge on a cutting tool that is created by workpiece material welding onto the tool during cutting. Gummy metals often produce a built-up edge.
carbide The most common cutting tool material that is used to make both indexable inserts and solid cutting tools. Carbide tools are often coated.
carbon tool steel A type of steel designed with improved wear resistance, toughness, and strength.
cast Metal that has been poured as a liquid into a mold and cooled into a solid shape.
ceramic A hard, brittle material that can withstand high temperatures. Ceramic cutting tools require high cutting speeds and rigid machinery.
cermet Any cutting tool material consisting of ceramic particles in a metallic binder. Cemented carbide tools are a type of cermet.
chemical vapor deposition A special process that uses chemical reactions to coat a cutting tool at the atomic level with fine layers of coating material. Carbide tools are coated by chemical vapor deposition.
chromium A shiny, hard, steel-gray metal used in ferrous alloys to add hardness and wear resistance to steel.
CNC machine A machine controlled by a computer that runs special programs to manufacture a workpiece. CNC machines are very rigid and are capable of fast cutting speeds.
cobalt A hard, gray, brittle metal that is a key alloying element in many nonferrous cast alloys.
crater A depression that forms on the face of a cutting tool above the cutting edge during machining.
cubic boron nitride A type of cutting tool material offering a hardness that is second only to diamond. CBN tools are very effective at machining most steels and cast irons, but they are also very expensive.
ferrous metal A metal that contains iron.
graphite A soft, black formation of carbon. If diamond is subjected to high temperatures, it may revert to graphite.
gummy Excessively soft and difficult to machine. Gummy metals produce long, stringy chips.
hardness The ability of a metal to resist penetration and scratching.
heat treatment The heating and cooling processes used to change the structure of a material and alter its mechanical properties.
high-speed steel A common cutting tool material that is relatively inexpensive and that offers excellent toughness. Many HSS tools are coated.
hot working The shaping of metal at temperatures above its recrystallization phase. Hot working typically leaves a tough, scaly surface on the metal.
indexable insert A cutting bit that has multiple cutting edges. Once a cutting edge is excessively worn, it can be indexed to another edge, or the insert can be replaced.
interrupted cut A cut in which one or more edges of the cutting tool are not in constant contact with the workpiece surface.
manganese A hard, brittle, gray-white metal used in ferrous alloys to add strength and hardness to steel and other metals.
molybdenum A hard, silvery white metal used in ferrous alloys to add toughness, creep strength, and wear resistance to steel. Molybdenum is an effective substitute for tungsten.
nonferrous alloy An alloy that does not intentionally contain iron.
nonferrous cast alloy A type of cutting tool material that is relatively expensive and that must be directly cast into shape. Nonferrous cast alloy tools have largely been replaced by carbide.
physical vapor deposition A special process that bombards the surface with coating particles to produce fine layers of coating. HSS and carbide tools are coated by physical vapor deposition.
plain carbon steel The basic type of steel, which contains less than 3 percent of elements other than iron and carbon.
polycrystalline diamond The manufactured formation of diamond that has a hardness approaching natural diamond.
silicon A dark gray metal with a blue tinge that is added to alloys to improve hot-forming properties.
single-crystal diamond The natural formation of diamond that is the hardest known material. Single-crystal diamond is extremely brittle.
sintered Powdered metal that has been pressed and heated to create a solid shape. Sintered metals create very uniform contents.
superalloy An alloy consisting of numerous alloying elements that is very expensive and designed to exhibit certain mechanical properties at elevated temperatures.
titanium carbide TiC. A more recent material used to make carbide cutting tools that offers improved chemical stability and crater resistance.
titanium nitride TiN. A compound used to coat high-speed steel and carbide tools to reduce friction.
tolerance The unwanted but acceptable deviation from the desired dimension.
toughness The ability of a metal to absorb energy without breaking or fracturing.
tungsten A gray metal that is very strong at elevated temperatures and is a key alloy for many cutting tools. Tungsten is relatively expensive.
tungsten carbide The original material used to make carbide cutting tools.
wear resistance The ability of a metal to resist the gradual wearing away caused by abrasion and friction.
wrought Solid metal that has been bent, hammered, or physically formed into a desired shape.