What are the functions of a metalworking lubricant?

Metalworking fluid, also known as MWF for short, is the name for a range of liquids, oils and greases that are designed to lubricate and/or cool metal workpieces during machining, grinding, milling and other processes. Metalworking fluids can effectively reduce the friction and heat between a cutting tool and workpiece, helping to prevent smoking and burning. Additionally, applying metalworking fluids also assist by improving the quality of a workpiece, as they continuously remove the fines, swarfs (small shards of metal that the cutting tool removes) and chips from the tool in use, along with the workpiece’s surface of the workpiece.

In the following sections, we’ll take a closer look at the functions of metalworking lubricants.

Forming a protective film

The main function of a metalworking lubricant is to provide separation between the tool and workpiece, preventing any metal-to-metal contact. Fluids must form a protective film to block contact and this film safeguards the tooling. This is important, as tooling costs are significant. An effective metalworking lubricant can extend tool life and cover its own cost.

Controlling corrosion

Metalworking fluids must also control corrosive forces. Along with preventing corrosion, metalworking fluids must also work to protect the slides, punch, guides and even the main body of the machinery from damage caused by wear particles.

Decreasing friction

Another vital function of any metalworking fluid is to reduce friction at the metal contact and tooling area. Lowering friction has numerous operational benefits, including decreased energy consumption to form the parts and less drag on metal, resulting in a more even flow of metal coming through the forming die. Less friction also cuts down the number of particles present in the punch area, and generally results in less unwanted deposits clogging work areas of the machine.

Increasing cleanliness

Metalworking fluids can also promote cleanliness in all processes and help in creating and maintaining a clean working environment. Lubricants used must always be easy to remove from the newly formed part and be able to inhibit a build-up of unwanted deposits. For health and safety, they must be fully compatible with degreasers and cleaners.

Acting as a coolant

Finally, metalworking fluids sometimes function as a coolant, although this is not their most important attribute. It is understood that in many metalworking operations, heat is an essential part of the process; however, when required, metalworking fluids can provide cooling properties.

With various functions, these fluids are essential for the metalworking industry.

Metalworking Lubricant
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