Cutting fluid is an industrial lubricant that is readily available from leading manufacturers including Houghton, Fuchs, and Mobil. Designed to improve the performance of equipment and extend its life, this multi-purpose cutting oil is essential for a wide range of machinery tasked with performing metalworking functions.
What is cutting fluid?
Cutting fluid is a kind of lubricant and coolant that has been specifically developed for metalworking processes including stamping, machining, and grinding. Cutting fluids are offered in a variety of formats, from oil-water emulsions, oils and pastes to aerosols and gels. They are commonly created from a blend of petroleum distillates, plant oils, animal fats, air and water, among other natural ingredients.
Most machine and metal working processes can appreciate the advantages found in using a cutting fluid, although this depends ultimately on the workpiece material. Some common exceptions to the rule include brass and cast iron, which can often be machined dry.
Valued properties of a quality cutting fluid
The most sought after qualities in a dependable cutting oil include allowing the workpiece to stay at a stable temperature. While warm is always acceptable, extreme heat and any alternating between cold and hot should be avoided.
The cutting fluid should also maximise the lifespan of equipment by effectively lubricating the cutting tips’ working edge, reducing wear and preventing rust on the cutter and other parts.
In addition, a reliable cutting fluid should answer the safety concerns of both operators and the environment, providing protection from fungi, bacteria, and toxicity.
The two key functions of cutting fluid
The two main tasks of cutting fluid are cooling and lubricating. Cutting metal creates heat, which is caused by friction and the energy loss from the material being deformed. Industrial work that demands intensive cutting over extensive periods of time produces a greater amount of heat than simple air cooling can cope with. Instead of disrupting production to cool tools, adding a liquid coolant reduces heat swiftly and speeds up processes while reducing friction and wear.
As well as cooling machinery, cutting fluids also help metalworking processes by lubricating the area between the cutting edge of a tool and the chip. Preventing friction at this important interface can drastically reduce the quantity of heat generated. Lubrication also works to stop chips becoming welded onto a tool in use, which could potentially interfere with further cutting processes.
Specially designed oils for different metals
Cutting fluids have been engineered for use with specific metals. For example, fluids can be found for ferrous metals that contain iron. While iron is coveted for its strength, it has a weakness when it comes to corrosion, so cutting fluids have been developed with special formulas to defend the metal against oxidisation and rusting, among other forms of decomposition.
Other metals with dedicated cutting oils suited to their composition include copper, stainless steel, aluminium, nickel, and bronze. Along with answering the requirements of specific materials, formulas may also offer other advantages, including enhanced sump life and improvements to the cleanliness of machinery and tools.