Is S90V steel a good steel?

CPM S90V steel is high-end stainless steel manufactured by crucible industries using the Particle Metallurgy process.

It contains high amounts of carbon and vanadium elements which contribute to excellent wear resistance. What’s more, being stainless steel, it offers good corrosion resistance.

S90V is very popular in the knife making industry for making high-end knives. However, like any other premium steel, it is expensive.

The high pricing is associated with the fact that this steel is very difficult to work on. It takes the knife makers sophisticated tools and extra effort to craft a blade from it.

CPM S90V steel composition

  • Carbon C 2.30%: Increases the edge retention, hardness and tensile strength. It also improves steel resistance to wear, abrasion and corrosion.
  • Chromium Cr 14.00%: Formation of Chromium carbide Increases hardness, tensile strength and corrosion resistance of the blade.
  • Molybdenum Mo 1.00%: It improves machinability and hardness.
  • Vanadium V 9.00%: Increase wear resistance and toughness, it also improves corrosion resistance. High vanadium content enables formation of Vanadium Carbide giving S90V steel an edge over other steel in wear resistance.
  • Tungsten W 0.40% Improves wear resistance and hardness, mostly added to tool steel.
  • Manganese Mn 0.50%: Increases Hardness and brittleness.
  • Silicon Si 0.50%: Increases strength and heat resistance.
  • Phosphorous P 0.03%: Improves steel strength and resistance to corrosion but is generally consider detrimental when added in plenty.
  • Sulfur S 0.03%: Sulphur improves machinability but is normally regarded as an impurity it is thus added in low quantities.

Properties of CPM S90V steel

S90V Hardness

CPM S90V hardness is 57-59HRC as per the Rockwell hardness scale which is better than soft steels with hardness levels of 54HRC. Its hardness enhances its edge retention and wear resistance.

S90V Wear resistance

One of the areas of excellence in S90V is its wear resistance capabilities, associated with the high amounts of Vanadium carbides.

You are assured of long-lasting service from S90V knives even when frequently used for tough applications.

S90V Edge retention

CPM S90V offers better edge retention than most stainless steel out there.

The combination of vanadium and chromium elements in its composition gives it a fine edge. You are assured of a long-lasting sharp edge irrespective of the duties you perform with S90V knives.

S90V Toughness

The level of toughness offered by this steel can be categorized as decent. Not very tough and not the worst on the market. S90V is brittle, just like many other hard steels.

The improved toughness offered by this steel is associated with the signature PM manufacturing process that ensures even distribution of fine carbides of its elements.

For that matter, knives made from this steel will not break, chip, or crack when subjected to stress or force.

S90V Corrosion resistance

CPM S90V contains enough chromium to make it stainless steel, and therefore good corrosion resistance capabilities.

What’s more, the high amounts of Vanadium carbides in its composition enhance corrosion resistance features.

Do not expect this steel to resist corrosion like super steel, but at the same time, it performs better than some stainless steel on the market.

Is S90V hard to sharpen?

Being hard steel with excellent wear resistance, S90V steel is hard to sharpen. This is expected because it contains higher vanadium carbides than chromium carbides, making it wear-resistant. Therefore, sharpening stones and other abrasives have nothing on this steel, hence the difficulty of achieving an edge.

How to sharpen s90v steel

To get an edge faster with S90V steel, you are advised to use stones like diamond or CBN, which contain carbides harder than Vanadium carbides. A lot of patience and effort is required to get an edge with this steel. On the flip side, it maintains sharpness for long, reducing the sharpening burden.

CPM S90V steel comparison

S90V vs S110V

S90V steel exhibits almost identical characteristics to S110V steel and they are both considered premium steel. The only slight difference which is very minimal is that S110V steel beats S90V in edge retention and corrosion resistance. S90V steel shines on toughness slightly over S110V steel but you will not go wrong with either choice.

S90V Steel Vs M4

M4 steel and  S90Vsteel are produced using the same manufacturing process, which is the Particle Metallurgy process. They offer the same level of high edge retention. However, M4 beats S90V in toughness and ease of sharpening, while S90V steel shines in corrosion resistance.

Is S90V Good Steel For Knives?

CPM S90V steel offers outstanding edge retention, great corrosion resistance, and excellent wear resistance, making it a good choice for knife making. What’s more, it offers decent toughness to protect it from breaking and chipping when used for tough applications.

On the downside, it is hard to sharpen and work on, and its knives are costly. To take care of sharpening challenges, use sharpening systems harder than steel like those made of diamond.

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