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What is cutting fluid?

Cutting fluids comprise a range of lubricants that are ideally suited to use in grinding and other metalworking applications. Manufacturers of the best quality cutting oils include Fuchs and Houghton.

Some cutting fluids are formulated for use with those ferrous metals that contain iron. These materials are renowned for their strength, but are prone to corrosion. Thus, many cutting fluid formulas include corrosion inhibitors that protect against oxidation, rusting and contaminants. A good cutting fluid will generally feature great properties of cooling, flushing and wetting – all key processes within a number of grinding procedures.

How should cutting fluids be used?

A number of cutting fluids are compatible with materials containing copper, while others can be used with stainless steel, aluminium or yellow metals. An improved sump life is a feature of some cutting fluid formulas, and this can assist in prolonging the life of equipment. Another benefit is the enhanced cleanliness of machinery, tools and other equipment. There are specially formulated cutting fluids for use with modular or cast iron and aluminium alloys.

To ensure you select the best oil for the intended purpose, it is wise to gather some information regarding the metals concerned, the type of machine and tools, and any chemical restrictions that apply. If possible, consult an experienced cutting fluid specialist to guide you through the range of options available.

Is the process easy?

Metals vary in how easy they are to process. Some, such as stainless steel, hard metals and certain alloys require a very high performance cutting fluid, while others metals like aluminium and brass, are easier process using general purpose lubricants. Where very hard metals are concerned, a cutting fluid with a very specific set of additives will be needed, as they will enhance anti-weld and extreme pressure capability. Usually such formulas contain chlorine and/or sulphur, which will protect the tools and ensure a smooth finish.

A cutting fluid containing lubricity additives, friction modifiers and anti-weld properties is normally fine for use with aluminium, brass, aluminium, carbon and low alloy steels. Such lubricants usually contain either inactive sulphured fat or chlorinated paraffin. Active cutting fluid formulae that include active sulphur should not, however, be used with aluminium or brass, as they may tarnish or stain, adversely affecting the finish. Cutting fluid products that are suitable for use with brass and aluminium are thus sometimes referred to as “non-staining” oils.

Easy machine operations such as forming, milling, turning or drilling require a cutting fluid with only modest extreme pressure capability, whereas more difficult operations necessitate a high level of anti-weld protection. There are cutting fluids that are specifically designed for tricky operations such as broaching or thread cutting; these are often more viscous and may contain both chlorine and active sulphur.

Machine and tool types as well as plant processes must also be considered when choosing a cutting fluid, and it is key to check that it its use is permitted, bearing in mind local environmental policy wastewater disposal methods, end-user requirements and employee health and safety.

Using a high quality cutting fluid, that is ideal for your intended application, can prolong equipment life and enhance performance. Your choice of cutting fluid can improve product quality, lower costs and streamline processing.

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