Delve into any technical subject and you’ll find dozens of misconceptions which are believed even by those working in the industry. Machining is no exception, and even if we narrow the subject to metalworking fluid (MWF) there are plenty of myths to go around.
Here are just three common misconceptions:
Water is Water
True, no one in this field really thinks you can throw just any water together with a metalworking concentrate and have great results. But it’s also true that your shop metalworking fluid is probably at 90% water and the qualities of the water you use can have dramatic effects on your performance results.
Water hardness should be understood and closely monitored. Water that is above 120 parts per million (ppm) often contains enough dissolved minerals to make a fluid unstable, causing problems ranging from emulsion stability, residues, poor rust protection and ultimately limited fluid life. Water below 75 ppm can contribute to foaming, which can reduce the fluid’s lubricity, cause pumps to cavitate and disrupt the workplace. High chloride levels can promote corrosion and limit a fluids usefulness.
There is a Silver Bullet MWF
The idea that there is any one perfect metalworking fluid is false. The truth is that the main benefit of better chemical technology is in tailoring fluids to the application. Even if an advanced line of products can offer longer fluid life or better corrosion control, each fluid can excel at certain tasks over others.
There may be a silver bullet for your shop, or you may need more than one. But no MWF will “do it all,” so carefully choose an advanced product tailored to meet the needs of your application.
Choosing a Metalworking Fluid can be Done on Paper
The first step in choosing a metalworking fluid is to understand it’s basic performance capabilities and operating parameters. What we mean by that is how the product is intended to function. You would want to know what type of machining applications it’s designed for, what metals it will work with and the suggested concentration.
There’s no substitute for testing under real-world conditions. It’s best then to determine baseline performance and help identify solvable problems when they’re small issues before they become costly obstacles. Issues with the fluid could be avoided with a change in a procedure, such as sump cleaning, water treatment or makeup mixing. Or ultimately, you might find that a fluid that seemed like the silver bullet for your operation is incompatible, allowing you to dodge that bullet by trialing a different fluid. Which will help you to avoid making a costly mistake.
Speaking of those many factors, there are various options to make the right decision. These will be explored further in future thought-provoking blog posts. In the meantime, we’ll be glad to help you trial a new fluid or assist on what you may be able to improve.