What is Vanadis 4E Steel?

Vanadis 4E Steel Knife

What is Vanadis 4E Steel?

Vanadis 4E steel is an excellent Powder Metallurgy tool steel manufactured by Uddeholm. The steel is referred to as Vanadis 4 Extra as it is an improved version of the previous version known as Vanadis 4. It is a versatile tool steel that combines excellent wear resistance and toughness. 

Vanadis 4E steel is great knife steel that offers a more balanced approach to toughness, edge retention, and corrosion resistance. The steel does not contain enough chromium to make it stainless steel. If you do not mind the corrosion resistance abilities of your knives, the other properties of Vanadis 4E make it good knife steel.

Vanadis 4E Steel Composition

  • Carbon C 1.40%: Increases edge retention, hardness, and tensile strength. It also improves steel resistance to wear, abrasion, and corrosion.
  • Chromium Cr 4.70%: The formation of Chromium carbide Increases the hardness, tensile strength, and corrosion resistance of the blade.
  • Molybdenum Mo 3.50%: It improves corrosion resistance, machinability, and hardness.
  • Vanadium V 3.70%: inhibits grain growth during elevated temperature processing and heat treatment, which enhances the strength and toughness of steel. It also forms carbides that increase wear resistance.
  • Silicon Si 0.40%: Increases strength and heat resistance.

Properties of Vanadis 4E steel

Vanadis 4E Steel Hardness

Vanadis 4E steel has a Rockwell hardness of 66-67 HRC. This level of hardness is impressive and gives Vanadis 4E knives excellent wear resistance and edge retention without compromising toughness.

The level of hardness is however determined by the heat treatment applied by the knife manufacturer. Depending on the use case the manufacturer can aim for a tougher knife by lowering hardness or a high wear resistance knife by increasing the Rockwell hardness.

Wear resistance

The wear resistance of steel is directly related to its hardness. Because it is hard steel, Vanadis 4E offers excellent wear resistance. This means that knives made with this steel do not lose shape or deform even after exposure to abrasion.

Like any other steel, Vanadis 4E steel will wear and tear from continued use and sharpening, but the knives will serve you for a long time, and you can pass them across generations.

The excellent wear resistance of Vanadis 4E steel is attributed to the high elements of carbon, molybdenum, and vanadium in its composition.

Vanadis 4E Steel Edge retention

Edge retention measures how long steel keeps a sharp edge with frequent use and is determined by steel’s hardness and wear resistance. Vanadis 4E steel is hard steel with excellent wear resistance which results in excellent edge retention. The varieties of Vanadis 4E steel knives will not put you through the hustle of frequent sharpening.

Vanadis 4 Extra edge retention is on the same level with most other premium steel like the new MagnaCut steel and  Crucible’s S35VN steel. It is however slightly lower compared to that of M390 and 20CV steel.

Vanadis 4E Steel Toughness

As a rule of thumb, hard steels tend to be brittle, with a high hardness of 66HRC, we can conclude that Vanadis 4E steel offers poor toughness. However, this is not the case, due to the balanced chemical composition, Vanadis 4E steel provides excellent toughness. 

This steel toughness is better than most knife steels, its toughness is in the range of Magnacut steel and Nitro V steel. You can trust knives made from this steel to withstand pressure and impact. They do not break, chip, or crack when used for tough applications.

Vanadis 4E Steel Corrosion resistance

Vanadis 4E steel is not stainless steel because the amount of chromium in its composition is not enough to make it stainless steel. The 4.70% chromium gives it a certain amount of corrosion resistance, but it is not enough to make it rust-free.

The corrosion resistance of this steel is boosted by the amount of molybdenum present in its alloy composition. Proper care and maintenance are crucial to prevent Vanadis 4E steel knives from rusting and staining. Vanadis 4E steel knives are not a good choice in areas of high humidity or areas with salty water.

Ease of sharpening

The sharpening ability of steel is determined by its hardness, where hard steel is challenging to sharpen and vice versa. Vanadis 4E is hard steel, so it isn’t easy to sharpen. It will take a lot of time and energy to get a sharp edge. However, you can make the process easier by using sharpening tools harder than Vanadis 4E steel. 

Vanadis 4E steel comparison

Vanadis 4 Extra steel equivalent

CPM 4V steel manufactured by crucible industries can be termed as Vanadis 4E steel equivalent. CPM 4V steel offers a similar level of performance as Vanadis 4 Extra across the board. They both offer the same level of toughness, edge retention, and corrosion resistance. 

Although manufactured by different manufacturers both 4V and Vanadis 4E  share an almost identical chemical composition and powder metallurgy production process which results in a uniform fine grain structure that greatly improves their toughness compared to other knife steels. 

These steels a great deal of chipping resistance and wear resistance, particularly when hardened to higher Rockwell hardness. CPM 4V is more popular and is most likely to be found in most knives compared to Vanadis 4E steel.

Vanadis 4 Extra vs Elmax

Both steels are produced by Bohler industries however, the main difference between Vanadis 4 Extra and Elmax is that ELmax steel is stainless steel with excellent corrosion resistance while Vanadis 4E is non-stainless steel. Elmax stainless steel offers about twice the corrosion resistance of Vanadis 4E steel.

Vanadis 4E steel on the other hand offers close to twice the toughness of Elmax Stainless steel. Vanadis 4E knives will be more resistant to chipping and cracking when subjected to tough applications and might hold an edge better than Elmax due to resistance in rolling and chipping.

Vanadis 4 Extra vs CPM 3V

Both Bohler Vanadis 4E and CruciblesCPM 3V are non stainless steels that offer great balance in terms of edge retention, toughness, and corrosion resistance.

The significant difference between Vanadis 4 Extra and CPM 3V steel is in their level of toughness, CPM 3V offers significantly better toughness than Vanadis 4E steel. 3V toughness can be quantified as 9/10 while Vanadis 4E is at a 7/10.

CPM 3V performs better than Vanadis 4E in corrosion resistance which can be attributed to the higher chromium percentage. Vanadis 4E  steel on the other hand beats CPM 3V in both wear resistance and edge retention. The difference in these performance aspects is not as significant as the difference in toughness. 

Is Vanadis 4E good knife steel?

Vanadis 4E is excellent knife steel considering its balanced properties. It offers excellent wear resistance, edge retention, and great toughness. This blade steel is known to be highly durable and resist chipping and has extremely good ductility.

However, it is not an excellent knife steel choice if corrosion resistance is the biggest priority for your knives. But you can keep Vanadis 4E knives rust-free by washing, drying, and applying a coat of oil on the blades after use.

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