What’s the difference between 440B and 440C steel?

by Joseph K. Clark

So, you’re wondering what the difference is between 440B and 440C steel? Let’s start with a brief overview of what steel is. Steel is an alloy of iron with other metals that gives it strength. While most steels contain carbon, these two steel sheets have different carbon levels and different properties. 440B steel contains 0.10-0.25% carbon and has improved machinability, yet doesn’t hold its edge as well as 440C.

How is 440B Steel Different from 440C Steel?

440B and 440C are two different types of steel with their own strengths. This is why you’ll find both materials being used in knives, for example. While they have common uses, like handguns, one material can be more advantageous than the other, depending on what you need it for. It can be hard to figure out which one is better suited for your specific needs because people disagree as to whether or not there is actually any difference at all. The reality is that they’re different alloys with some trade-offs between them when it comes to strength, hardness, corrosion resistance, wear resistance, and toughness.

Composition of both sheets of steel

440B is an alloy of chromium, nickel, tungsten, manganese, and silicon. It contains 0.3% carbon as well as low levels of molybdenum and sulfur.

440C is an alloy of chromium, nickel, tungsten, molybdenum, titanium with additions in carbon at 0.4%. It also contains sulfur which improves machinability but must be removed from heat treatment.

The properties that separate these two steel sheets are that 440B has excellent corrosion resistance and toughness but lacks wear resistance compared to 440C.

Properties of both sheets of steel

440A is one of several grades of steel known as high-speed tool steels. This includes steels such as tool (T), H-1, D-2, and A-2. In general, these are highly alloyed irons with wonderful grain. The original purpose of high-speed devices was to machine hard metals in precision machine shops that required faster-cutting tools than could be made from ordinary carbon or low alloy steels. The common feature of these high-speed tool steels is that they need hardness for their cutting edge and toughness for extended wear.

440B is also considered high-speed steel because it can still withstand heavy machining at more economical speeds than other alloys would allow. Like 440A grade tool steels, it generally has medium to coarse carbide size and numerous inclusions but doesn’t require quite as much heat treatment. It has limited use on its own but can be used when more traditional metals won’t work – either due to cost or some other property.

Uses for both sheets of steel

The most significant difference is their carbon content. 440B has less than 0.3% carbon, while 440C has more. This makes for very different properties in various uses. In terms of applications, 440B is better suited for general-purpose cutting knives, such as food processing knives or carpet knives, where toughness and edge sharpness are essential requirements. In contrast, 440C is better suited for deep section blades, such as cutting metal plates or concrete blocks.

440C will be more challenging, while 440B will be more rigid. However, both sheets of steel can have excellent wear resistance. The combination of these two properties makes them excellent choices for tooling components. But what if you need to balance hardness with toughness? You might want to consider another type of tool steel—such as M2 high-speed steel—that combines these features well.

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