Hot-work tool steels are used for forming ferrous and non-ferrous metals and their alloys at higher temperatures. In addition to the fact that the tool is continually at a high temperature, the contact zone of the tool is subjected to a changing thermal load by the working process. This complex duty demands that the tool possesses:

• good tempering resistance
• high strength at elevated temperatures
• high hot wear resistance
• good hot ductility and
• high level of resistance to thermal shock

Since these characteristics cannot all be maximised to the same extent in a single grade, the steel must be selected according to the most important criteria. Appropriate heat treatment, operational strength, preheating and a design that takes into account the stress to which the tool will be subjected are essential to ensure that the tool will have the required service life.

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