En45 steel also referred to as EN 45 or E-N-45 is a high carbon alloy steel that was introduced on the steel market in the 1940s.
The EN in its name stands for European Norme and the 45 represents the percentage of carbon in its composition.
En45 is unique because of its strength, welding capabilities and it is suitable for oil hardening and tempering.
Due to its unique features, it is used in the manufacturer of a variety of tools including, kitchen knives, hand tools, leaf springs, bridge construction tools, car gas tanks, and commonly sword blades.
En45 steel Chemical composition
- Carbon C 0.64%: Increases the edge retention, hardness and tensile strength. It also improves steel resistance to wear, abrasion and corrosion.
- Chromium Cr 0.40%: Chromium Increases hardness, tensile strength, toughness and corrosion resistance of the blade.
- Molybdenum Mo 0.10%: It improves machinability.
- Nickel Ni 0.40%: Increases toughness of the steel
- Manganese Mn 1.00%: Increases Hardness and brittleness.
- Silicon Si 2.20%: Increases strength and heat resistance, however, this much high silicon content is not suitable for forging.
- Phosphorus P 0.04%: Improves machinability and hardness.
- Sulfur S 0.04%: Improves machinability.
En45 hardness is 45-50HRC on the Rockwell C scale. Note that, the hardness varies with the heat treatment used. With proper heat treatment, the steel can achieve a hardness of 58HRC.
Compared to other popular steels which record hardness of 60HRC and above, this hardness is a bit low but offers you super durability and it will not break easily.
En45 steel offers just okay edge retention because of its level of hardness. Knives made from this steel will not remain sharp for longer, but not to say that it is the lowest out there.
Expect a fair performance in regards to keeping an edge and be ready to sharpen your knives more frequently.
As a rule of thumb, harder steels are less tough and vice versa and this applies with our steel of the day.
Since En45 is not very hard, it offers excellent toughness and it is for this reason, it is used in applications that require strength.
The toughness is associated with carbon, silicon, manganese, and less chromium in its composition.
Tools made from this steel will not break or chip even when exposed to large pressure volumes.
The wear resistance of steel is determined by the level of hardness. The higher the hardness the better it performs in wear resistance.
Having said that En45 is not very hard steel, it offers decent wear resistance which is influenced by the presence of carbon, manganese, and silicon in its composition.
This steel endures damage from abrasive materials and this is why it is a good choice in the making of construction equipment like bulldozers. It does not wear out from the regular encounter with sand or cement.
Being carbon steel with very low amounts of chromium in its composition, En45 performs poorly on corrosion resistance.
Items made from this steel will easily corrode when used in humid areas or exposed to other corrosive conditions.
However, with proper care and maintenance, you can avoid corrosion and rust on En45 knives. Ensure that the knives are washed and dried thoroughly after use. Applying a coat of oil during storage is a good way to keep the rust away as well.
Ease of Sharpening
This is another point of weakness of En45 steel. Been hard steel it is very difficult to sharpen EN45 Steel. Dedicate more time and effort for sharpening sessions, and it would help if you engage sophisticated sharpening tools.
En45 steel equivalents
En45 vs 5160
5160 steel beats En45 steel is hardness, corrosion resistance, and toughness. On the other hand, EN45 leads to edge retention. Since they are both carbon steels, they are both poor in corrosion resistance.
En45 vs. 1095
En45 steel offers better toughness and edge retention than 1095 steel. In the contrast, 1095 is harder and easier to sharpen.
Being stainless steel, their corrosion resistance is almost the same.
Is EN45 steel good for Knives?
En45 steel is commonly used in the manufacture of kitchen knives, but its properties make it the best choice for sword making. Swords require tough steels with high amounts of silicone as offered by En45.
Proper care that includes cleaning and oiling before storage is required to keep swords and knives made from this steel in good condition.