A diverse range of lubricants are employed in industrial applications to increase performance and keep equipment protected from harm. Greases, fluids and oils are specifically designed by leading lubricant manufacturers for specific machinery and components and to cope with a variety of operational and environmental conditions and work rates.
Among the many lubricants deployed, soluble cutting oil is a solution employed in metalworking operations. However, the type of soluble cutting fluid required will depend on the equipment in use, its application and factors present impacting operation. In the following passages, we’ll take an in-depth look at water-soluble cutting fluids and the three different types available that see frequent use in the industrial sector. Read on to learn more about these invaluable lubricants.
What is water soluble cutting oil?
In simple terms, these water-based cutting fluids come in concentrated form and are designed to produce an emulsion when they are mixed with water. You can find water soluble cutting oils referred to as water-based cutting fluids, coolants or simply cutting fluids, but they all create the an emulsion once combined with H2O.
Even in modern industry, water soluble cutting oils remain most popular cutting fluids due to their affordable costs and the multiple advantages they can offer for operations involving grinding and machining processes. The high levels of washability and cooling performance make them ideal for maintaining the surfaces of the workpiece during processes.
Water soluble cutting oils are typically grouped into three distinct categories: synthetic, semi-synthetic and milky.
What makes choosing the right soluble cutting fluids so important?
The selection process for choosing soluble cutting oils for metal cutting processes can impact multiple aspects of the modern production environment.
The comfort, health and wellbeing of equipment operators, machine tool cleanliness, materials being machined, disposal expense, quality of manufactured components and the manufacturing environment are all affected by the correct selection of a soluble cutting fluid. As such, it is vital that the correct oil is always chosen.
Synthetic soluble cutting oils
Synthetic cutting oils are formulated from fully synthetic additives that operators must mix to the correct concentration to produce a clear liquid solution containing the sought-after lubricating attributes to machine cutting zones. Synthetic oils are engineered for the machining of super alloys, automotive aluminium, wrought aluminium, glass, ceramics, stainless steel, carbon, mild steels, tool steels, hard metals and every type of cast iron.
Common applications that require the use of synthetic cutting oils include turning, milling, tapping, boring, grinding, drilling, sawing, slotting, reaming and broaching, among others. These soluble cutting fluids should be mixed at a concentration of between 3 to 10 per cent, but this may vary from application to application, depending on operational severity.
Semi-synthetic cutting oils (soluble mineral oil emulsions – micro droplet)
Translucent emulsions that include mineral oil and lubricating additives are sometimes referred to simply as semi-synthetics, and may sometimes have a dye added, giving them a specific colour. This type of cutting fluid is engineered to deliver a micro-sized droplet of oil. When correctly mixed with water, these oils become emulsions that can carry a range of different lubricants, as well as extreme pressure (EP) additives to the machine cutting zone.
These specially designed cutting emulsions are employed in a diverse selection of applications that include turning, tapping, drilling, boring, sawing, milling, slotting, broaching and grinding. To be effective, they must be mixed to a concentration of between 5 to 12 per cent. Once more, this varies depending on application severity.
Micro droplet cutting oils are made for the machining of stainless steels, steels, automotive aluminium, and cast iron. Industrial market demand for technological improvements has led to the creation of state-of-the-art cutting fluids that deliver enhancements in surface finish, with lower oil concentrations in use during the production of holes formed by reamers and drills.
Milky (soluble mineral oil soluble emulsions)
Finally, a creamy or milky white emulsion is produced when these soluble mineral oil cutting fluids are correctly mixed with water. Soluble mineral oil emulsion cutting fluids are designed to provide effective lubrication and cooling to the material located at the machine cutting zone.
This type of cutting fluid emulsion is used in a range of applications, like turning, broaching, drilling, slotting, milling, grinding, boring, tapping and sawing. To be effective, they should also always be mixed at a concentration of between 5 to 12 per cent, with consideration for the severity of the machining application.
Milky soluble cutting fluids are formulated for the machining of cast irons, steels and stainless steels, as well as automotive aluminium.
Playing such an important role in machining operations, it is vital that operators undertaking cutting work always ensure they use the correct soluble cutting fluid. Always consult your original equipment manufacturer’s (OEM) recommendation before purchasing a product.