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Boehler MicroClean Steels?

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by DSTiamat, Jul 14, 2011.

  1. DSTiamat


    Feb 4, 2011

    Anyone ever worked with Boehler MicroClean steels? I think they are the equivalent of CPM:
    page is in german, but click one of the products and its also in english,
    S290 steel can get a hardness of 70HRC , also has a high wear resistance but no good toughness. Which of the steels would make a good knife steel? Im a bloody beginner and i might just talk crap:).
  2. Justin King

    Justin King

    Nov 8, 2009
    Boehler's steels are becoming availible here and there in the U.S. and a few guys are using them, but I'm not sure they have been around enough for public opinion to have made much judgement on them yet. M390 and S690 are the ones I have mostly heard being used for knives, I think. There are so many new steels types availible in the U.S. in recent years that I think the Boehler steels are sort of lost in the fray and may not be getting their due attention.
  3. DSTiamat


    Feb 4, 2011
    But does that steel i mentioned look good for knife steel or is the toughness really to low? Because 70 HRC sounds nice!
  4. Justin King

    Justin King

    Nov 8, 2009
    IMO 70 hrc is probably well-suited to industrial slitters and the like, but not so much for most multi-purpose knives. At that hardness it might tend to chip easily, and will be extremely difficult to sharpen, which would be a very bad combination for a user knife.
  5. Carl_First_Timer


    Dec 6, 2010
    It is EXPENSIVE!!
  6. sunshadow


    Oct 2, 2006
    having worked in an aerospace metals plant, looking at the flowchart of how the metal is made there is no atomization/consolidation step that would be equivalent to the CPM process, it looks like they are using VAR and ESR processes to clean the steel, but you will not have the microfine structure that you get with CPM and equivalent processes.

  7. melsdad


    Apr 3, 2008
    At work we have used the M390 in the past for precision die applications where a high rockwell and wear resistance was needed. Yes it is very expensive. We had peters do the heat treating for us. The reason being was our 2 bar furnace would not quench the material fast enough for a proper heat treat. I still have some scraps from that material that I amy play around with some time and make a few knives. The pieces I have now are over an inch thick so I need to do some machineing to get usable pieces for knives.
  8. OTK


    Feb 10, 2010
    I've used S690(their powdered m4) and Elmax. I'm super impressed with both and I think after more guys use them you'll see similar comments.
  9. Tait


    Sep 26, 2009
    In the AlphaKniveSupply mailing list update, Chuck Bybee mentioned they now have Elmax Stainless Steel, M390 Stainless Steel, and Vanax Nitrogen Stainless Steel.
  10. james terrio

    james terrio Sharpest Knife in the Light Socket Moderator

    Apr 15, 2010
    For steels in a similar class, look into Carpenter's CTS-XHP and of course good ol' boring CPM-154. I'm extremely happy with both. I've read about excellent results from a few makers who've used ElMax, that's all I know.
  11. mete

    mete Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 10, 2003
    The original poster is in Romania so European steels wiil be much easier to get and probably cheaper too. In any case Boehler makes very fine steels ! Just a matter of picking which steel serves your purpose best.Their website indicates which steels are powder metal. The only one of their steels that I have personal experience is N690Co which is very popular in Europe for folders .Not a Powder steel but it's similar to GC-10 or 154CM. Easy to sharpen, takes a fine edge and holds it well.
  12. Alpha Knife Supply

    Alpha Knife Supply Always Innovating Basic Member Dealer / Materials Provider

    Oct 14, 1998
    In 2006 we imported Bohler N690 for testing. The tests were great but our cost of shipping steel from Austria made the steel price too high. In 2010 we worked with Bohler Uddeholm (BU) to introduce their steels to North American knifemakers.

    I need to clarify the meaning of "Microclean". This is the term BU uses to specify their powder metallurgy steels. BU is producing the 3rd generation of powder metallurgy steels. The 1st generation was the typical powdered metals with coarse granules. The 2nd generation reduced the granule size to the size about the consistency of flour. The 3rd generation runs the fine powder through an electromagnet to get rid of particles that are not steel. Steels made from 3rd generation powders are very clean with evenly distributed elements.

    The steels BU is promoting are:
    • Elmax PM Stainless Steel
    • K110 (D2)
    • K294 (PM A11)
    • M390 PM Stainless Steel
    • N680 Cast Nitrogen Stainless Steel
    • N690 Cast Stainless Steel
    • S690 (PM M4)
    • Vanax PM Nitrogen Stainless Steel

    They have other steels and we have received a few for testing.

    BU has been testing their steels and has released the results. Here are links to two of the tests:

    CATRA Test Results:

    Toughness Test Results

    The CATRA test results very interesting. Various blade steels were sent to CATRA to test the edge holding. CATRA did not know the steels being tested. The samples were marked with codes rather than steel designations. Two stainless steels, M390 at HRC 61+ and Elmax at HRC 62 out cut CPM M4.

    The CATRA test results also show N690 (a cast steel) out performing 440C, 154CM & CPM154 by 28%.

    The toughness tests show Elmax is tougher than any other stainless blade steel by a significant margin.

    The new steel introduced this week is Vanax. It was going to be called Vanax 35 but the name was shortened. It is the first powder metallurgy nitrogen stainless steel. We sent a knife made with 1st generation powder to be tested. The test results showed edge holding better than S30V:
    The production Vanax uses 3rd gen powder. It can be made harder for better edge holding without chipping.
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2011
  13. melsdad


    Apr 3, 2008
    Thanks for the information Chuck!
  14. james terrio

    james terrio Sharpest Knife in the Light Socket Moderator

    Apr 15, 2010
    Same here, thank you!
  15. OTK


    Feb 10, 2010
    Yup thanks for putting some facts in this thread Chuck. I am going out on a limb but BU may be making the best cutlery steels out there today. I have been testing K390 and the performance is unreal. Edge holding like 10V but with much higher toughness. Another huge winner for BU.

    Also let me shoot a huge thanks to Chuck and Jessica from AKS for continuing to source these fine but hard to find materials. It's a huge help to the guys that are into the new metals.

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