What Are The Metal Working Fluids

Metal working fluids (MWF), typically in the form of coolants, have long been the standard for machining. However, there is another more minimalist process that uses lubricants to do the same job of reducing heat creation when working. Below is a comparison of the two methods.

Coolants
Coolants are regularly used as MWF’s. The worker floods the workspace between the tool and the metal with clean coolants. This will prevent the increase in heat caused by the friction between the cutting tools and the metal.

Pros and Cons
The downsides of using coolant are the excess materials, the mess, and the risk of contamination. Extra equipment is used to test, filter, and reuse coolants. The flooding process leads to coolant spreading to machinery and floors, becoming potential safety hazards. Also, even with filtering equipment in place, there is a chance of contamination. Contaminated coolant is filled with toxic bacterias and chemicals that require special waste procedures. The vapor itself can cause sickness.

Despite the downsides, MWF’s are still good for the familiarity and ease of use. The coolant is poured on and the surface area remains wet, allowing workers to be certain the heat is dissipating. Switching to another cooling procedure would require companies and workers to trust something new and a little more tricky to use.

Lubrication
Minimum quantity lubrication (MQL) lubricates the surface between the tool and object by placing a thin film between them that reduces the friction. This is accomplished with only a ‘minimum’ amount of product, unlike the flooding that occurs with coolants.

Pros and Cons
Using MQL is cleaner than using coolants. The substance does not spread beyond the application area. The heat in the work area vaporizes the lubricant as the tools are used. By the end, the machinery is clean and no waste procedures are needed. Most MQL’s are created from plant-based materials, making them safer for workers to handle.

The downside of MQL is that applying the right amount of lubrication to complete the job requires more knowledge and skill. The application of lubricant has to be precise in order to be an effective cooler and money-saving process.

Learning the fundamentals of lubricant use can improve the machinery process and avoid the downside of coolant use. It will take time for knowledgable workers to adjust though. Until then, both MWF and MQL are in competition for the future of machining.

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