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Mushet steel

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Mushet steel

Mushet steel, also known as Robert Mushet's Special Steel (RMS), self-hardening steel and air-hardening steel,[1] is considered the first tool steel and air-hardening steel.[2] It was invented in 1868 by Robert Forester Mushet. Prior to Mushet steel, steel had to be quenched to harden it.[1] It later led to the discovery of high speed steel.[3]


The chemical composition of Mushet steel varied; tungsten was the main alloying constituent, which ranged between 4 and 12%, while manganese (2–4%) and carbon (1.5–2.5%) were the secondary alloying constituents. A typical sample contained 9% tungsten, 2.5% manganese, and 1.85% carbon.[2]

Mushet steel was harder than standard water quenched steel. It was found that Mushet steel could be best hardened by submitting it to an air blast after [1]

Mushet steel is non-magnetic.[2]


Mushet steel was primarily used in mild steels. He also found that if a stream of water was used as a cutting fluid the cutting speed could be increased 30%. After Taylor's tests results were published Mushet and other self-hardening steels became popular in machine tools.[3] Prior to Taylor's tests Mushet steel was often just used to increase the time between regrinds, take larger cuts, or machine harder materials.[1][2]

In 1899 and 1900,[4] Taylor and Maunsel White were experimenting with hardening processes for Mushet steel and other self-hardening steels. They discovered if the steel is heated to near its melting point it creates a more durable metal. The metal will retain its hardness up to a red heat. This type of hardened self-hardening steel was the first high speed steel.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d Becker 1910, pp. 13–14.
  2. ^ a b c d Stoughton 1908, pp. 408–409.
  3. ^ a b c Oberg & Jones 1918, pp. 278–279.
  4. ^ Kanigel 1997.


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