Is Elmax steel any good?

Enzo trapper Elmax Steel Knife

What is Elmax Steel?

Elmax steel is high chromium vanadium and molybdenum stainless steel produced by Bohler-Uddeholm through a powder metallurgy process. The PM production process enables fine and uniform distribution of carbides, improving Elmax performance over conventional steels.

The outstanding features of Elmax steel are that it is stainless steel with about 18% chromium content, it provides excellent corrosion resistance, high compressive strength, and wear resistance, which most knife steels do not achieve. 

Elmax stainless steel is used to make tooling materials, industrial knives, and custom knives that require a combination of excellent corrosion, wear resistance, and good dimensional stability. 

Elmax Steel Composition

  • Carbon C 1.70%: Increases edge retention, hardness, and tensile strength. It also improves steel resistance to wear, abrasion, and corrosion.
  • Chromium Cr 18.00%: Increases hardness, toughness, and corrosion resistance of the blade by forming chromium carbide. The higher than 13% Cr is what makes Elmax “stainless.”
  • Molybdenum Mo 1.00%: It improves corrosion resistance, machinability, and hardness.
  • Vanadium V 3.00%: Increase wear resistance and toughness, and it also improves corrosion resistance.
  • Manganese Mn 0.30%: improves the strength and hardness of steel. When the steel is heat-treated, hardenability is improved with increased manganese.
  • Silicon Si 0.80%: Improves strength of steel and heat resistance.

Properties of Elmax steel

Elmax Steel Hardness

Elmax steel hardness is 61-62HRC per the Rockwell hardness scale, making it hard steel. You can expect outstanding edge retention and excellent wear retention from knives made from this steel.

Elmax Steel Toughness

Elmax steel at a Rockwell hardness of 61 HRC is tougher than most popular knife steels; it is mainly used to make knives that require high impact toughness.

If you are looking for hunting and camping knives that will not chip or break easily, look into the varieties of Elmax steel blades. Elmax knife steel is popular in manufacturing Spyderco, Kershaw, and Microtech knives.

Elmax toughness is better than Bohler N690 Steel, CTS BD1N stainless steel, AISI 440C steel, and 154CM steel. However, steels like AUS 8, 14C28N, and AEB-L offer higher toughness and are better for tougher applications that Elmax can’t handle. 

Elmax Steel Edge retention

With a hardness of 60HRC, Elmax knife steel offers good edge retention. Elmax’s edge holding and dimensional stability brought about by the alloying elements and powder metallurgy process make it excellent knife steel.

Elmax steel’s combination of vanadium and chromium carbides gives it very high wear resistance thus giving it good edge retention. The Vanadium Carbides, in particular, increase the Rockwell hardness which in turn boosts the edge retention of Elmax

Uddeholm Elmax edge retention is similar to that of Crucible’s S45VN steel, Vanax steel, and CTS XHP steel. It is better than some popular knife steels like CPM 154, AISI 440C steel, and  VG 10 steel. 

Elmax Steel Corrosion resistance

So does Elmax steel rust? Elmax is stainless steel, which shows that it is good in corrosion resistance. The 18% chromium in its composition boosts its rust resistance capabilities to high levels.

To enhance the rust resistance, ensure proper care and maintenance of your knives. Clean and wipe them dry before storage for a longer life span. 

Elmax Steel Wear Resistance

Uddeholm Elmax steel is stainless steel but contains high amounts of carbon, which enhances its wear resistance property. Large amounts of carbon in this steel make it more wear-resistant as it enables the formation of hard carbides.  

Elmax knives will serve you for the longest time, even when frequently subjected to sharpening. Most blades tend to wear from the corners, but this will never happen with Elmax varieties.

Elmax steel Ease of Sharpening

Despite Being hard steel with high amounts of carbon, Elmax stainless steel is not hard to sharpen. This is one of the few properties that make it unique among high-carbon stainless steels. 

The Powder Metallurgy production enables uniform carbide distribution and fine microstructure making it easy to get a sharp edge with Elmax steel as compared to sharpening a conventionally produced steel of similar alloy composition.

Elmax Steel Comparison

Elmax vs VG10

Elmax steel is better than VG 10 steel in edge retention, wear resistance, and corrosion resistance. This is due to the powder metallurgy production process that significantly improves Elmax knife steel performance aspects due to the finer microstructure and more uniform distribution of carbides.

Both Uddeholm Elmax and VG 10 steel offer the same level of average toughness, they are not the best knife steels for tougher blades and are generally outperformed with most steel achieving a hardness of 58HRC like AUS 8 and 8Cr13MoV.

Elmax vs D2

Elmax steel is better knife steel than D2 Steel in most aspects, It offers better toughness, edge retention, wear resistance, and corrosion resistance. This is mainly due to Elmax powder metallurgy production process.

The main difference between Elmax and D2 is that Elmax is stainless steel, while D2 steel is semi-stainless steel. Therefore, Elmax knives offer better corrosion resistance compared to D2 Knives.

Elmax knife steel has slightly improved toughness over D2 knife steel due to the finer microstructure which makes it a little bit less brittle. However, the toughness of Elmax and D2 is not that good, it is the weak point of these two knife steels.

Both D2 and Elmax have an almost identical Rockwell Hardness, sharpening both steels is not that difficult, however sharpening D2 steel is a bit easier due to the reduced amount of Hard Vanadium Content.

Elmax vs S30V

Elmax steel performance is highly similar to that of S30V steel despite the fact that they are both produced by two different companies. Elmax is produced by Bohler while S30V is produced by Crucible Industries. 

The significant difference between Elmax steel and S30V steel is that S30V steel provides slightly better edge retention than Elmax  Steel. The improved performance is due to a more balanced alloy composition compared to Elmax steel.

Both Elmax and S30V are stainless steel with excellent corrosion resistance, however, Elmax steel has slightly more Chromium content in its alloy composition which may improve its corrosion resistance under a different heat treatment technique. 

Elmax vs N690

Both Elmax knife steel and N690 knife steel are produced by Bohler. The significant difference between Elmax and N690 is that Elmax offers better wear resistance and edge retention compared to N690 steel. This is due to the increased Vanadium and Carbon content in its alloy composition.

Elmax and N690 are both stainless with about 18% chromium content, they both offer the same level of corrosion resistance. Both knife steels will resist staining and rusting quite well, they are better than AISI 440C stainless steel.

Elmax with a Rockwell Hardness of 61HRC offers better toughness than N690 steel with a Rockwell Hardness of 60HRC. Elmax is able to achieve better toughness due to a better distribution of fine carbides in its alloy composition despite achieving a higher HRC.

Elmax vs CPM 3V

The main difference between Elmax and CPM 3V steel is that Elmax is stainless steel with excellent corrosion resistance while CPM 3V steel is a non-stainless steel with moderate corrosion resistance. Elmax gets its excellent corrosion resistance from the 18% Cr content.

CPM 3V steel with a Rockwell hardness of 58HRC offers twice the toughness of Elmax steel. CPM 3V steel is manufactured as a high toughness tool where most tool steels would encounter breakage and chipping, 3V also excels over Elmax on high impact toughness applications.

Elmax offers slightly better edge retention compared to 3V steel, this is attributed to the higher Rockwell hardness of Elmax. Elmax also contains a higher percentage of Vanadium elements which aids in the formation of Vanadium Carbides excellent for edge retention and wear resistance.

Both Elmax and 3V offer excellent wear resistance but Elmax slightly edges 3V due to the amount of Vanadium and Carbon in its alloy composition. Elmax knives will perform better than 3V knives in wear resistance.

CPM 3V steel knife is a bit easier to sharpen than Elmax steel knife due to the slightly reduced wear resistance of 3V knives compared to Elmax knives.

Elmax Steel Equivalent

In terms of performance, CPM S45VN steel can be considered Elmax steel equivalent. Both Elmax and S45VN offer the same level of toughness, edge retention, and corrosion resistance. S45VN steel however contains Niobium which aids in the formation of MC carbides. 

MC carbides are extremely hard, harder than vanadium carbides as it is a combination of Vanadium carbide and Niobium carbide. MC carbides contribute to the excellent S45VN wear resistance and make S45VN knife steel a bit harder to sharpen compared to Elmax knife steel.

See Also: Vanax Superclean steel, new nitrogen-based steel, and an improvement of Elmax steel

Is Elmax good knife steel?

The properties of Elmax steel make it good knife steel, as it offers outstanding hardness, edge retention, wear resistance, and corrosion resistance. The only downside is that Elmax steel is not that tough and may experience chipping or cracking when subjected to high-impact application.

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