AEB-L UDDEHOLM Steel

Uddeholm's AEB-L steel is renowned for its excellent edge retention, corrosion resistance, and ease of sharpening, making it ideal for professional knives and industrial blades. Learn more about its properties, advantages, disadvantages, and the heat treatment process that optimizes its performance.8 min


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AEB-L UDDEHOLM Steel

AEB-L UDDEHOLM STEEL

AEB-L was originally designed for use as razor blade steel.

It is famous for a combination of toughness, edge stability, and edge hold, being easy to resharpen and extremely resistant to corrosion.

This is an extremely fine-grained steel and stainless steel for many manufacturers.

AEB-L steel, manufactured by Swedish steel manufacturer Uddeholm AB, has been a mainstay in industrial knives due to its excellent edge retention, sharpness, and corrosion resistance.

Uddeholm’s specific variant is referred to as UHB AEB-L and features these properties that are crucial for cutting applications, making it a preferred choice for professionals who need reliable and durable blades.

Steel was initially designed for razor blades, which emphasizes its superior edge retention capabilities and sharpness.

Uddeholm’s production of AEB-L steel dates back to 1928, marking a long history of optimization and proven performance over the decades.

It is praised for its fine-grained and pure-grained alloy composition, which contributes positively to its edge stability, toughness, and ease of sharpening.

These qualities extend its application beyond razor blades to professional kitchen knives and other cutting tools that require a sharp and long-lasting edge.

UHB AEB-L steel can be hardened to high levels of hardness, further enhancing its longevity and performance in demanding environments. It has a stainless quality with 13% chromium, which strengthens its corrosion resistance, a desirable feature for knives and other tools exposed to damp or corrosive conditions.

Steel is available in a variety of sizes, ranging in thickness from 0.076 mm to 3.50 mm and width from 6 mm to 340 mm, providing flexibility for different applications.

The combination of superior cutting properties, tight thickness tolerances, excellent wear resistance, and consistent, consistent quality makes Uddeholm’s UHB AEB-L steel a highly valued material for industrial and professional cutting tools.

Chemical Composition of AEB-L UDDEHOLM Steel

The chemical composition of the AEB-L steel produced by Uddeholm is specific to impart certain properties to the material, which are useful for various applications, especially for the production of blades.

Here are the details of the chemical composition of AEB-L steel according to different sources:

  • Carbon (C): 0.67% – helps to improve the hardness and resistance to wear and corrosion of steel, although a high percentage of carbon can decrease the strength of the material

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  • Chromium (Cr): 13% – chromium increases tensile strength, edge retention, and further improves the corrosion and wear resistance of steel.
  • Manganese (Mn): 0.6% – contributes to increasing the hardness and brittleness of steel.
  • Silicon (Si): 0.4% – improves the strength of steel.
C:Cr:Yes:Mn:P Max:S Max:
0.67%13%0.40%0.60%0.025%0.006%

Some sources provide a slight variation in composition, such as a carbon percentage between 0.65% and 0.7% and a chromium percentage between 12% and 13%

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. In addition, another source indicates a nominal composition for a similar type of steel, known as AEB, with 1% carbon and 13.5% chromium, which has a relatively large carbide structure compared to AEB-L.

This chemical composition allows Uddeholm’s AEB-L steel to offer a balance of hardness, corrosion resistance, and ease of sharpening, making it ideal for producing high-quality blades, such as professional kitchen knives and razor blades.

This type of stainless steel, “edge steel”, was originally developed for the production of razor blades, but is also used for scalpel blades and knives.

High sharpness, wear resistance and corrosion resistance

 

Heat treatment:

Quenching temperature 1025°C – (1080°C after -70°C deep freezing)

Tempering time 30 minutes

  • 100°C/212°F – HRC 63 – (65)
  • 200°C/392°F – HRC 60 – (62)
  • 300°C/572°F – HRC 57 – (58)

Heat treatment of AEB-L steel is a crucial procedure that helps optimize its mechanical properties, such as hardness, toughness, and wear resistance.

Here is an overview of the heat treatment process of AEB-L steel, as suggested by several sources:

  1. Initial Heating and Temperature Stabilization: Place the blade in a pre-heat oven and stabilize the temperature, then allow to soak for 15 minutes before moving to an austenitizing oven temperature. After 8 minutes in the oven, proceed with a plate quenching followed by a cryogenic quenching, and then allow to cool continuously

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  2. Achieving Desired Hardness: Heat treatment tests show that AEB-L can achieve a hardness of 63+ Rc (Rockwell Scale C), resulting in remarkable edge strength and stability. Preliminary quenching at 1750°F could slightly improve the balance between hardness and toughness.
  3. Simplified Heat Treatment Version: Heat up to 1066°C and hold for 15 minutes, then quench in oil. After that, place in the freezer for 30 minutes. Quench at 177°C for 1 hour, cool under water, and temper again for another hour at 177°C.
  4. Specific Quenching and Tempering: The quenching temperature is 1025°C, which can be increased to 1080°C after deep freezing at -70°C. The tempering time is 30 minutes, with hardness results varying according to the tempering temperature: 100°C/212F – HRC 63 – (65), 200°C/392F – HRC 60 – (62), 300°C/572F – HRC 57 – (58).
  5. Simple but Effective Process: AEB-L steel has a simple yet effective heat treatment process that makes it loved by most knifemakers, as it is easy to work with and offers good hardness with the right treatment technique.

These heat treatment processes, when done correctly, can optimize the properties of AEB-L steel, making it ideal for professional and industrial cutting applications.

Advantages and disadvantages of AEB-L steel produced by Uddeholm

The AEB-L steel produced by Uddeholm offers a number of advantages and disadvantages, mainly due to its chemical composition and the resulting mechanical properties.

Here is a summary of the main strengths and weaknesses of this type of steel:

advantages:

  1. Edge Retention and Sharpness: AEB-L is known for its excellent edge retention and sharpness, making it ideal for manufacturing knife and razor blades.
  2. Corrosion Resistance: With a chromium content of 13%, AEB-L steel exhibits good corrosion resistance, making it suitable for applications in wet or corrosive environments.
  3. Hardness and Wear Resistance: Steel can be hardened to high hardness levels, providing good wear resistance, which is essential for cutting applications.
  4. Ease of Sharpening: Despite its hardness, AEB-L is relatively easy to sharpen, which is beneficial for maintaining a sharp edge over time.
  5. Toughness: AEB-L offers good toughness, which helps it withstand mechanical stress without chipping or breaking.

detriments:

  1. Strength Limit: The presence of a high percentage of carbon can reduce the strength of the material, although the balance with other chemical elements helps to mitigate this effect.
  2. Cost: The quality and performance of AEB-L steel can make it more expensive than other types of steel, especially when compared to less specialized steels.
  3. Availability and Formats: Uddeholm’s AEB-L steel is available in a limited range of sizes, which may not be ideal for all applications or may require additional machining to fit specific requirements.

Uddeholm’s AEB-L steel is an excellent choice for applications that require a sharp and durable edge, corrosion resistance, and some toughness, albeit at potentially higher costs and with some limitations in terms of strength and format availability.

 

Renowned knives made of AEB-L steel

Some renowned knives made with AEB-L steel include creations by Devin Thomas, a master in the use of this steel, who uses it extensively in his mid-tech lines.

Some specific models of knives with AEB-L steel are the Kikuichi Swedish Warikomi Damascus, Artifex, and Takayuki Grand Chef.

The Takayuki Grand Chef AEB-L is particularly known for its steel composition which includes Carbon: 0.67%, Chromium: 13.00%, Manganese: 0.60%, Phosphorus: 0.025%, Sulfur: 0.015% and Silicon: 0.40%.

Another example is the Takayuki Grand Chef AEB-L Gyuto 210mm, highlighted as a good knife made with AEB-L/13c26 steel.

Additionally, the Bradford Guardian 3 is a knife that offers the option of AEB-L steel as the blade material, along with other options such as M390 steel.

These knives reflect the industry’s appreciation for the qualities of AEB-L steel, such as its corrosion resistance, hardness, and ease of sharpening, making it an excellent choice for high-quality knives.

AEB-L steel for handcrafted knives

AEB-L steel is an excellent choice for crafting craft knives due to its many desirable qualities.

  1. Blade Quality: The AEB-L is known for its excellent edge retention and sharpness, which are crucial qualities for a high-quality knife blade. Its corrosion resistance also makes it suitable for use in wet or corrosive environments.
  2. Workability: Many knife makers appreciate AEB-L for its machinability. It has a relatively simple yet effective heat treatment process, which can be an advantage for craft knife makers who may not have access to advanced industrial equipment

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  3. Sharpening: Despite its hardness, AEB-L is known to be relatively easy to sharpen, which is beneficial for maintaining a sharp edge over time.
  4. Versatility: The AEB-L is versatile and can be used in a variety of knife styles, from kitchen knives to tactical and hunting knives.
  5. Cost: However, cost may be a consideration, as AEB-L, being a high-quality steel, may be more expensive than other, less specialized types of steel.
  6. Availability: The availability of specific AEB-L steel formats and sizes may be another consideration, as it may require additional machining to accommodate specific project requirements.

Uddeholm’s AEB-L steel is a solid choice for craft knife makers looking for a high-quality material that can provide knives with excellent performance, good corrosion resistance, and relatively simple maintenance.

I have gathered a comparison of AEB-L steel to various other types of steel as per your request, looking at aspects such as edge retention, toughness, corrosion resistance, and other relevant characteristics.

  • AEB-L vs Magnacut
  • AEB-L vs M390
  • AEB-L vs N690
  • AEB-L vs Nitro
  • AEB-L vs 14C28N
  • AEB-L steel vs 80CrV2

Here are the comparisons:

  • AEB-L vs Magnacut: Magnacut is known for better toughness and edge retention than AEB-L at different hardness levels. The toughness of Magnacut is comparable to that of some high-quality steels such as CPM 4V and is slightly lower than Nitro V steel, outperforming AEB-L in this aspect.
  • AEB-L vs M390: The AEB-L is better suited for thinner sands that resemble razor and scalpel blades, while the M390 is better for thicker sands without the tendency to roll or chip. AEB-L is comparatively easier to sharpen. M390 has a higher chromium content, around 20%, thus offering better anti-corrosion properties and significantly better wear resistance and edge retention than AEB-L.
  • AEB-L vs N690: Both AEB-L and N690 are stainless steels with more than 13% chromium; however, N690 offers better corrosion resistance by having 17% Chromium in its alloy. The N690 is seen as a midway point between the AEB-L and the M390 in terms of properties.
  • AEB-L vs Nitro-V: Nitro-V outperforms AEB-L in both edge retention and corrosion resistance due to its unique nitrogen and vanadium alloy additions. It is essentially a version of AEB-L steel with enhancements for better performance.
  • AEB-L vs 14C28N: Both AEB-L and 14C28N are known for their high toughness, but 14C28N appears to have better edge retention and corrosion resistance than AEB-L. 14C28N is essentially Sandvik’s version of AEB-L steel, but with a higher carbon-to-chromium ratio that makes it a bit harder at the expense of corrosion resistance.
  • AEB-L vs 80CrV2: AEB-L is a stainless steel while 80CrV2 is known to be tougher with better edge retention. The 80CrV2 is best suited for applications that require toughness.

Each of these types of steel has its own unique advantages and would be better suited for different applications or preferences in knife making.

The choice between them would depend on the specific requirements such as corrosion resistance, edge retention, toughness, and ease of sharpening, among others.

 

Types of knives where AEB-L steel can be used

AEB-L steel is highly regarded for its excellent edge retention, corrosion resistance, and ease of sharpening, making it ideal for a variety of knife types. Here are some types of knives for which AEB-L steel can be particularly suitable:

  • Kitchen Knives: The AEB-L is often used for chef’s knives, chopping knives, boning knives, and other professional kitchen knives. Its ability to maintain a sharp edge for a long time is highly valued in professional kitchen environments.
  • Tactical Knives: AEB-L’s good toughness and corrosion resistance make it a solid choice for tactical knives that may be exposed to harsh conditions.
  • Hunting Knives: Hunting knives made of AEB-L steel can benefit from its good toughness and its ability to maintain a sharp edge even after intensive use.
  • Folding Knives: The AEB-L is a popular choice for folding knives due to its combination of hardness, toughness, and corrosion resistance.
  • Every Day Carry (EDC) knives: The reliability and ease of maintenance of the AEB-L make it ideal for EDC knives that are used daily for a variety of tasks.
  • Shaving Knives: Originally developed for razor blades, the AEB-L is still an excellent choice for shaving knives and razors due to its extreme sharpness and edge retention.
  • Craft Knives: Many craft knife makers prefer AEB-L because of its workability and excellent performance.
  • Survival Knives: The AEB-L can be a solid choice for survival knives as well, thanks to its toughness and corrosion resistance.

Overall, AEB-L steel is a very versatile choice that can be used in a wide range of knives, making it a preferred material for professional knife makers and hobbyists alike.

Conclusions

The AEB-L steel produced by Uddeholm has proven to be a material of choice for the production of industrial and professional blades, due to its distinctive characteristics such as excellent edge retention, corrosion resistance, and ease of sharpening.

Originally developed for razor blades, the AEB-L has found application in a wider range of cutting tools, including professional kitchen knives and tactical knives.

Its chemical composition, which includes a significant proportion of chromium and carbon, contributes to its performance in terms of hardness and wear resistance, while maintaining good toughness.

Some famous knives made from this steel include the Takayuki Grand Chef AEB-L and the Bradford Guardian 3, proving its popularity and reliability in the knife community.

Despite some drawbacks such as a possible higher cost and limitations in strength, AEB-L steel remains a reliable choice for those looking for a high-quality blade material.

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Andrea


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Andrea F

Maker and Enthusiast of Knifemaking. Other: Engineer / Professional Blogger / Bass Player / Instructor of Boxing / Muay Thai / Brazilian Jiu Jitsu / Grappling / CSW / MMA / Self Defence / FMA / Dirty Boxing / Silat / Jeet Kune Do & Kali / Fencing Knife / Stick Fighting / Weapons / Firearms. Street Fight Mentality & Fight Sport! State Of Love And Trust!

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