Cutting fluids refer to any suitable liquid used as a coolant and/or lubricant during a wide range of metalworking and machining techniques. Cutting fluids aren’t just used when literally cutting metals; they’re also widely deployed during processes such as drilling, stamping, turning, milling and more.
Many types of machine tool coolant systems use cutting fluids in one form or another, be it gels, pastes, liquids or sprays/aerosols. Liquid cutting fluid products are among the most universal and flexible type and are popular across most modern industries and production environments.
What are the key advantages of a high quality cutting fluid?
- Because metal machining tends to generate excessive friction heat, cutting fluids play an essential role in helping to cool and lubricate both the material being worked and the tools/machinery working it
- This not only helps to dissipate heat; it also reduces the overall amount of friction at contact points
- As well as improving production efficiency, cutting fluids therefore also help to reduce unwanted wear and tear on both worked materials and machine parts/tools
- Cutting fluids typically help achieve a far better quality finish on machined pieces, preventing chips and ejected materials from becoming welded onto the machine tools where they might interfere with subsequent processes
What are the main types of cutting fluids to consider?
Liquid cutting fluids tend to come in three main types - mineral, semi-synthetic, and synthetic
Semi-synthetic and synthetic cutting fluids aim to combine the most useful properties of traditional oils with the user-friendliness and all-round cooling performance of water, via a manufacturing process that involves suspending emulsified oil in a water base
Other prized properties of synthetic and semi-synthetic cutting fluids include:
- Rust inhibition
- Resistance to various types of toxicity, including bacterial and fungal
- Tolerance for various types of oils and water
- Compatibility with many different metals and machining processes
- Resistance to thermal breakdown
- Improved environmental and user safety
Pastes and Gels are used for some applications, in particular, hand operations such as drilling and tapping. In sawing metal with a band saw, it is common to periodically run a stick of paste against the blade.
Aerosols delivered directly through the flutes of the tool. MQL's aerosol is delivered in such a precisely targeted way (with respect to both location and timing) that the net effect seems almost like dry machining from the operators' perspective.