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Free-Machining Steel

Free-Machining Steel Product Guide

The term “free machining steel” refers to a kind of steel that produces little chips when machined. Splitting the chips into smaller bits improves the material’s machinability and reduces the risk of tangling in the equipment. This makes it possible for automated equipment to operate without the involvement of a human being. In addition, free machining steel with lead may be machined at a more incredible speed. However, the higher cost of free-machining steel is offset by its higher machining speeds, broader cuts, and longer tool life.

Table of Contents

11xx series

Sulfur (S) content is raised from 0.05 percent to 0.1 percent in ordinary carbon steels. It increases the machinability by about 20% compared to materials in the 10xx range. In contrast, the tensile strength drops by around 10%, and the material becomes more brittle, making it less durable.

12xx series

The amount of sulfur (S) has been raised to 0.25%, and the amount of phosphorus (P) has been raised from 0.04% in the 10xx series to 0.5% in this new series. As a consequence, the machinability of the material rises by 40%, but the mechanical qualities continue to degrade.

SAE 12L14

SAE 12L14 is free-cutting steel with 0.25 percent of Lead (Pb) added to the phosphorus to increase the machinability by an additional 35%. This improved phase is possible because lead melts locally to reduce friction and naturally lubricate the cutting edge. On the other hand, several material producers and machine shops try to steer clear of lead supplements because they harm the environment and their health hazards.

The table below shows the Machinability Rate Comparison Between Plain Carbon Steel And Free cut Steels With The Same Carbon Content:

Machinability Rate Comparison Between Plain Carbon Steel And Freecut Steels With The Same Carbon Content:


Machinability (%)

P (%)S (%)Pb (%)

Bandsaw Blade Feed and Speed Calculator

Use the handy Speed and Feed Calculator on Sawblade.com to determine the correct blade speed and blade tooth pitch based on the material you are cutting.

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6938 Barney Rd
Houston, Texas 77093
Precision Cutting Specialist

Our sawing capabilities include a large range of metals, castings, plastics or molded parts. You can count on Houston Metal Sawing to deliver your parts on time and within budget.