There is nothing worse than having your precious and expensive knife chip or break during normal use. This is why you should take into consideration the capabilities of the steel in the tool before knife making or purchasing a knife.
The CPM 3V steel is one of the best options available in the market today, and here are some of the reasons why it has been chosen by many companies and experts as their steel of choice.
What is CPM 3V Steel?
CPM 3V steel is a tough powder metallurgy steel that is created for use in demanding situations where the tool needs to be able to survive nearly abusive levels of use. Compared to steels that are produced via more conventional processes, CPM 3V steel has excellent wear resistance and is basically designed to withstand abuse that would chip or break lesser steels.
The impact toughness of this unique steel is comparable to a lot of rare or more expensive steels, without any significant compromises in the hardness or thermal stability. In fact, it is often used as a replacement for other high alloy steels when additional chipping and breakage issues are found during use.
Common Uses of CPM 3V Steel
CPM 3V steel is often used in industrial applications and specialty products where the requirements for performance are extremely high. It used in:
- Pressing, Stamping, and Forming industrial machinery
- Industrial cutting implements like knives and cutting edges
- Industrial plastic injection tips and screw feeders
- Choppers, Punchers, and Die Forms
- Rolling compactors and related tooling.
- Specialty knives and tools
CPM 3V Steel Chemical Composition
CPM 3V steel is made by Crucible Industries LLC, an American company specializing in the creation of unique steel products for the industrial and specialist markets. The formulation behind this steel is intended to increase the dimensional stability, impact toughness, and ease of grinding, in comparison to other steels made by more conventional steel making processes.
- Carbon, 0.8%
- Chromium, 7.5%
- Vanadium, 2.75%
- Molybdenum, 1.3%
The powder metallurgy process used, named by the company as the “Crucible Particle Metallurgy” process, creates a high level of homogeneity and superior quality. Components include 0.8 percent of Carbon, 7.5 percent for Chromium, 2.75 percent for Vanadium, and 1.3 percent for Molybdenum. The uniform distribution of the carbides of vanadium provides the excellent wear resistance of the stell. Meanwhile, the structure of the steel itself on the micro-level gives CPM 3V steel its signature significant impact toughness.
The results of the precision process that was used to create this steel bring it to a different level of performance. You can actually compare it to going from a basic tool to a premium variety, without the high cost involved. Molybdenum and Vanadium are highly refined and their inclusion in the composition of the steel allows it to perform better than traditional carbon steels that do not have such components.
CPM 3V Steel Hardness
Because of the primary focus on impact toughness, you will not find CPM 3V steel to be of high hardness value in comparison to other steels in its category. Hardness is often found at HRC 58-60, which is good for the applications that the steel is used in, but not particularly high. It is possible to harden and treat the steel to obtain higher hardness, to 62-64 HRc but that would also cause lowered performance in impact toughness.
Properties of CPM 3V Steel
As you can see, CPM 3V steel is highly specialized and precision manufactured for its special properties. Here are some of the best features you can utilize on the steel.
When talking about steel, Toughness relates to the ability to prevent breakage or chipping during use. This would include sudden impacts or repeated impacts during industrial applications, or for a CPM 3V knife, activities like chopping and batoning.
The toughness of CPM CV comes from its microstructure, which when compared to common steels is more homogenous and of better quality. In fact, you might find that the toughness of a CPM 3V product will compare favorably to shock-resistant steels used in specialist tools.
Vanadium carbides are a key component in creating a wear-resistant steel, and CPM 3V has a uniform distribution of this carbide in the metal. Resisting abrasion is essential in use cases where a cut needs to be done repeatedly and consistently. If a tool has low wear resistance, the quality of the work produced will be sacrificed, which is a definite problem in any industrial context. Industrial machinery produces hundreds, if not thousands, of products per day, and premature wear will cost the operator more.
Machinability and Ease of Grinding
What use will good steel be for you if you couldn’t get it into the shape you need? This is the rationale behind creating steel with great machinability and grindability. CPM 3V can be shaped by Thermal treatments that are currently available to industries, small shops, and even hobbyists. The annealing, stress relieving, hardening, and heat treatment processes are accessible and can be achieved using common tools.
Steel products in constant use are under intense heat stresses and you should look at the possibility of deformation in the steel under such conditions. CPM 3V steel review and research articles show that it has good dimensional stability, which relates to the ability to maintain its working shape under heavy use, without permanent deformation. This can be quite important in applications where the steel is exposed to high-speed stress and the resulting friction-based heat.
CPM 3V Equivalent Steels or Alternative
One effective way to gauge the capabilities of a steel is to compare it to other contemporary steel available in the market today. Here we will look at the main advantages or disadvantages of CPM 3V against popular and common alternatives.
CPM 3V VS ELMAX Steel
This comparison is a great example for showing how steel can be designed for one purpose or another. Elmax is good steel when it comes to edge retention, the capability to hold its sharpness even during repeated use, and corrosion resistance. However, it lags behind CPM 3V steel when it comes to impact toughness. This means that depending on what you want from the steel, each could be a better choice.
CPM 3V VS S30V Steel
S30V has better corrosion resistance than CPM 3V, but it does not come close when it comes to toughness or edge retention. Applications, where corrosion is less of an issue, will benefit greatly from choosing CPM 3V.
CPM 3V vs 1095 Steel
1095 is one of the most popular and common steels used in specialty cutlery in the professional and hobbyist world. This is because it is widely available and plenty strong for most workloads. However, in comparison to CPM 3V, it is, comparatively, the weaker steel. CPM 3V is simply better in most metrics than 1095. This makes any additional investment or effort to shift to CPM 3V steel worth it.
CPM 3V vs S35VN Steel
S35VN steel has the chromium content for it to be called stainless steel. And, although it does have good corrosion resistance, CPM 3V is definitely less effective in preventing corrosion. However, when it comes to cost and toughness, CPM 3V is at a definite advantage while edge retention is generally the same for both types of steel.
CPM 3V vs M390 Steel
Both M390 and CPM 3V are fantastic steels for applications like high-quality knives and tools. M390 can be easier to sharpen and hold a great sharp edge. But, CPM 3V steel is a lot more durable, especially for outdoor and rugged use. CPM 3V will get stained more than M390 but will be more reliable in the field.
CPM 3V vs D2 Steel
You will often find D2 and CPM 3V steel compared to each other because they perform similarly in a lot of ways. They have similar corrosion resistance properties and edge retention quality. However, when it comes to toughness CPM 3V has got D2 beat. D2 is quite notorious as a brittle steel that will break or chip if used in an application it wasn’t designed for.
Is the CPM 3V steel good for knives?
The answer to this is, in most cases, Yes. One of the most important qualities of a knife is durability and a CPM 3V steel knife will have the toughness to take on the most demanding jobs. In the field or at home, a CPM 3V knife will not chip or break easily even when abused. The edge retention quality of a knife made with this steel is also superb, so you can be sure that it will keep cutting consistently for a longer period of time without requiring constant sharpening. With proper care, you will also be able to reduce the potential for corrosion.
Pros & Cons of CPM 3V Steel
Best CPM 3V Steel Knives
#1: Benchmade – Puukko 200 Fixed Bushcraft Knife
- Blade Length: 3.75” [9.53cm]
- Blade Thickness: 0.140” [3.556mm]
- Overall Length: 8.25” [20.96cm]
- Weight: 4.51oz [127.86g]
- Handle Thickness: 0.80” [20.32mm]
- Sheath Weight: 2.65oz [75.13g]
- Product Box: 10.5” X 2.75” X 2.25”
Simplicity is often an overlooked attribute of a good knife, but, as is often the case with tools that need to reliably perform every time you use them, is an important factor for creating the best knife for the job. Bushcraft has outdone itself in the Puuko 200 Fixed Bushcraft Knife.
They used CPM 3V for this knife, a steel that is so good for the purpose that they now use it as their standard steel. Don’t let the simple plain blade edge, satin finish, and drop-point style fool you. This is a knife that can be a bushcrafting lifeline, while still being enough to be used as your regular camp knife. The knife is intended to handle almost any type of situation you can encounter in the field, and is a quite a reassuring tool to have when you are out in the elements.
Paired with a Santoprene handle, a material that gives a rubberized feel for comfort and secure operation, the knife looks and feels utilitarian without looking cheap or mass-produced. Simple additions like the lanyard hole and leather sheath completes the package and helps make sure that the knife has a place in your go-to field equipment.
#2: Cold Steel Warcraft Tanto Series Fixed Blade Tactical Knife
- Weight: 13oz
- Blade Thickness: 5mm
- Blade Length: 7-1/2″
- Handle Length/material: 5-1/4″ G-10
- Overall Length: 12-3/4″
- Additional Features: Secure-ex® Sheath
Cold Steel is well known as an innovator in the knife industry and you will notice that their Warcraft Tanto series benefits from this heavily as it features unique design concepts mated with cutting-edge technologies and production techniques.
The Warcraft Tanto is made from CPM 3V steel, a base material that is not only of high quality, but incredible durability through improved toughness and wear resistance. Combined with the one-piece construction and unique curves and features, this makes for one of the toughest knives you’ll be able to get your hands on.
The looks of this knife will also catch your eye as the modern take on the historically unique tanto design is quite impressive. The coating they used on the knife looks good and modern while helping reduce corrosion issues and scratches. Finally, the primary cutting edge is flat ground while the blade bevel is chisel ground. This lends itself to extraordinary sharpness that when combined with the edge retention capabilities of the steel, makes a reliable tool.
This CPM 3V steel review has revealed the unique strengths and capability of this popular steel option. This means you should take note of what you will require from your knife or tool to determine if this is the right choice for your next project. If you are looking for a steel that will not break or chip when you use it harshly and will last for many use cycles then CPM 3V steel would be great for you. If you have any questions about CPM 3V or products that use this steel, please feel free to comment them on this page.