What is Silver Steel?
It is a material that has been notably overlooked in the industrial world. Not many people know what it is or what it’s for, but it’s probably one of the most used items used in all machinery. In the UK, it is most commonly known as tool steel, while in the US, it is comparable to what they call drill steel. It gets its name for the mirror like silvery finish it has, although in reality, there is no Silver in it.
The chemical makeup of this material is mostly comprised of Iron, however, the alloy contains other elements in varying amounts, such as Carbon, Chromium, Silicon and Manganese. It may also feature traces of other materials, such as Sulphur or Phosphorous. Out of all of these, Silver Steel contains the highest volume of Carbon (about 1%), making it one of the highest Carbon contents of all tool steels. The addition of chromium (up to 0.4 %) is what gives it the shiny silver finish.
Properties of Silver Steel
The Carbon added to the iron is used to increase the strength and durability of the metal, so that it can be used for applications which have to withstand a great deal of wear. The addition of Carbon also makes the metal highly corrosion resistant and easily machinable. The material is easy to shape, which allows manufacturers to transform it into very intricate and complex designs.
Difference between Stainless Steel and Silver Steel
Stainless Steel is also an alloy that combines Iron, Chromium, Carbon, Silicon and Manganese. However, unlike Silver Steel, Stainless Steel has a minimum of 10.5% Chromium, which produces a thin layer of oxide on the surface that prevents any further corrosion. Therefore, while Stainless Steel is rust proof, Silver Steel will rust easily when exposed to air or moisture. Another key difference is that Silver Steel is magnetic, while the majority of Stainless Steel is not.
How hard is Silver Steel?
Silver Steel products may feature different levels of hardness, depending on how much Carbon they contain and how they are manufactured. The Chromium content also adds to the hardness characteristics. During the heat-treating process, manufacturers heat the steel to extreme temperatures, then rapidly cool the material in a water or brine quenching solution. This added hardness gives the steel extra wear resistance but also makes it more brittle.
Standard annealed Silver Steel offers a hardness of C27 on the Rockwell hardness scale. It can be made with a hardness factor as high as C64 if subject to proper heat-treating techniques.
What is this material used for?
The uses of this material are varied. In workshops, it is most commonly used for the main shafts of hand tools like screwdrivers, files and punches. It can also be used for non-cylindrical items such as straight razors, axe heads and even complicated shapes such as model parts and engraving tools.
Industrial equipment, including machinery and transportation equipment, is also made of this metal. Many of the items found in the home setting, such as cutlery and cookware, are also made from Silver Steel.
How is Silver Steel supplied?
Like other forms of bar stock, it is sold in the form of long, round bars, sometimes called tool blanks or rods. These bars share many characteristics with standard drill rod, but can be distinguished by their hollow core.