Around 1970 Crucible steel started production of industrial-scale powder metallurgy tool steels. It was recognized early on that high vanadium tool steels had much greater toughness when produced with powder metallurgy. The vanadium leads to the formation of very hard vanadium carbides that contribute greatly to wear resistance. However, the vanadium carbides become very large with conventional production which limits toughness. Powder metallurgy greatly reduces carbide size. In fact with powder metallurgy production, vanadium carbides are usually smaller than the common chromium carbides or molybdenum/tungsten carbides since they are more stable and coarsen more slowly. Crucible Steel metallurgists took advantage of this fact with the development of CPM-10V which had high amounts of vanadium carbide, achieving very high levels of wear resistance along with good toughness. Read more about CPM-10V in this article.
I had the chance to look through Larrin Thomas’s book Knife Engineering: Steel, Heat Treating, and Geometry when I was in South Carolina with Dan Eastland. Great book. I don’t have a good excuse for why I haven’t pulled the trigger yet.
View Linked Article