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Exploring lubrication applications in metalworking

Oils are used in a wide range of different metalworking processes to carry out particular tasks. These include lubricating equipment, protecting parts from heat, working to reduce wear and removing unwanted debris.

Due to their capability to act as a coolant, dedicated oils have also been developed for use in grinding operations. Oils can also be employed to enhance the finish of individual parts, as when used in conjunction with an abrasive, they can work as a polish. Used as an anti-corrosive, oils can also help to prevent surfaces adhering and unwanted contamination building up over time.

Lubricant application

As well as oils, there are numerous oil-based lubricants that are used in metalworking processes, such as fluids and greases. Fluids encompass an extensive selection of products, like coolants, heat transfer oils, cutting fluids and quench oils. Greases, on the other hand, are much thicker in composition. While the oil in a grease is the active lubricant, a thickening agent is added to change the viscosity index to a much higher rating. Taking the form of gels and pastes, these products are selected in circumstances where operators don’t want the lubricant to flow too easily from surfaces.

Modern lubricant manufacturers, including world-renowned companies such as Quaker Houghton, Fuchs and Mobil, serve the industrial sector with specially formulated lubricants for metalworking processes. Here, we explore some of the lubricants used in metalworking:

Quench oils

Quench oils often find an application in steel working and are used to alter a metal’s structure when cooling. Quench oil has two main roles. It helps steel harden by manipulating heat transfer while quenching takes place, and also improves the wetting process of steel during quenching, minimising unwanted gradient that can lead to cracking and increased distortion.

Cutting fluids

An impressive range of cutting fluids are readily available for metalworking, each developed with a specific composition to suit the materials it must work with. Cutting fluids also support and improve processes that employ multiple tools, as well as in both cutting and shaping processes.

Cutting fluids are important for metalworking because they assist in protecting the cutting tool’s edges by not only lubricating them, but cooling them as well. This capability is particularly important in processes where a great amount of heat is created, such as operations involving soft metals. Cutting fluids can also be water-based, which, like light oils, can be in much demand for their outstanding cooling properties. Cutting fluids are often enhanced with specially formulated additive packages that improve their lubricating performance or add anti-wear capabilities.

Grinding fluids

Grinding fluids can enhance metalworking processes by ensuring discarded metal does not build up on grinding wheel surfaces. Like cutting fluids, they are typically infused with additives, giving them both anti-corrosive and cooling properties. Working under extreme pressure, superior grinding fluids can also transfer heat effectively, ensuring individual parts do not become overheated, which can result in expensive equipment downtime.

From powerful cutting fluids to dependable quench oils, there are a wide range of solutions provided, and each lubrication product is developed to perform specific roles. Today’s leading manufacturers often work closely with companies using metalworking processes to develop lubrication offerings that are compatible with equipment used and the demands of their industries.

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