Coolants and lubricants are widely used in the metal working industry for metal cutting. Continuous development in the field of MWFs (metalworking fluids) and compositions has produced better products and customers are focused on increasing their productivity and demanding for smart metal working fluids that do not affect human health and the environment.
Some of the recent trends in the coolants and lubricants industry are as follows:
Health, Safety and Environment (HSE):
As of now, users were looking at only cost and productivity. HSE has been becoming more important lately & in the days to come. So are carbon footprints & greenhouse gas emissions. The advent of GHS/CLP and country specific legislations about specific substances has forced the MWF manufactures/suppliers to develop newer formulations which are less hazardous. For example, usage of chlorinated paraffins in cutting oils is banned in most developed countries & auto MNCs. In addition, users need to comply with local industrial safety/environmental laws & their group policies. Most multinational automotive companies have even stricter norms compared to local laws.
Reduction in oil consumption
Oil consumption reduction in the cutting operation has an advantage in terms of both, economics and environment. Manufacturers have been developing mineral oil-free (synthetic fluids) and emulsions with reduced oil particle size (micro emulations) in conventional water-soluble cutting oils, in order to reduce oil carryover with components/chips. Usage of natural gas, the cleanest fossil fuel, in neat cutting oils as a base after converting to liquid by Fischer–Tropsch Synthesis, is another trend in the direction of natural resource conservation.
Metal chip briquetting techniques are trending amongst the cost-conscious users. It is recommended to check chemical properties of the coolant before reusing, as it may contain process contaminations.
The high temperature and humidity in India is conducive for corrosion of components, parts and machines. A conventional method is to use rust preventive oils after machining or cleaning. OEMs or end-assembly plants prefer either thin film rust preventive oil or no oil at all on the components. There is a demand/trend to provide adequate corrosion protection by coolants & aqueous cleaners to the components.
Industry 4.0—Path to digitalisation
Intelligent lubrication systems with sensors are increasingly being adopted to measure and evaluate the condition of lubrication at critical systems, so as to minimise waste without affecting the machine performance. There have been many noteworthy developments in this field to eliminate or drastically reduce the use of MWFs. Dry machining & Minimum Quantity Lubricant (MQL) as concepts, have been around for quite some time, but both methodologies have not enjoyed mass success as of now, at least not in the Indian context.