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Cutting Fluids

Cutting fluid is a type of coolant and lubricant designed specifically for metalworking and machining processes. There are various kinds of cutting fluids, which include oils, oil-water emulsions, pastes, gels, aerosols (mists), and air or other gases. They may be made from petroleum distillates, animal fats, plant oils, water and air, or other raw ingredients. Depending on context and on which type of cutting fluid is being considered, it may be referred to as cutting fluid, cutting oil, cutting compound, coolant, or lubricant. Most metalworking and machining processes can benefit from the use of cutting fluid, depending on workpiece material. Common exceptions to this are machining cast iron and brass, which are machined dry. The properties that are sought after in a good cutting fluid are the ability to: keep the workpiece at a stable temperature (critical when working to close tolerances). Very warm is OK, but extremely hot or alternating hot-and-cold are avoided. maximize the life of the cutting tip by lubricating the working edge and reducing tip welding. ensure safety for the people handling it (toxicity, bacteria, fungi) and for the environment upon disposal. prevent rust on machine parts and cutters.

Functions:
The primary functions of cutting fluids in machining are : Lubricating the cutting process primarily at low cutting speeds Cooling the workpiece primarily at high cutting speeds Flushing chips away from the cutting zone

Secondary functions include: Corossion protection of the machined surface enabling part handling by cooling the hot surface

Process effects of using cutting fluids in machining include: Longer Tool Life Reduced Thermal Deformation of Workpiece Better Surface Finish (in some applications) Ease of Chip and Swarf handling

Types
Cutting fluids are used in metal machining for a variety of reasons such as improving tool life, reducing workpiece thermal deformation, improving surface finish and flushing away chips from the cutting zone. Practically all cutting fluids presently in use fall into one of four categories: Straight oils Soluble oils Semi-synthetic fluids Synthetic fluids

Straight oils are non-emulsifiable and are used in machining operations in an undiluted form. They are composed of a base mineral or petroleum oil and often contains polar lubricants such as fats, vegetable oils and esters as well as extreme pressure additives such as Chlorine, Sulphur and Phosphorus. Straight oils provide the best lubrication and the poorest cooling characteristics among cutting fluids. Synthetic Fluids contain no petroleum or mineral oil base and instead are formulated from alkaline inorganic and organic compounds along with additives for corrosion inhibition. They are generally used in a diluted form (usual concent ration = 3 to 10%). Synthetic fluids often provide the best cooling performance among all cutting fluids. Soluble Oil Fluids form an emulsion when mixed with water. The concentrate consists of a base mineral oil and emulsifiers to help produce a stable emulsion. They are used in a diluted form (usual concentration = 3 to 10%) and provide good lubrication and heat transfer performance. They are widely used in industry and are the least expensive among all cutting fluids. Semi-synthetic fluids are essentially combination of synthetic and soluble oil fluids and have characteristics common to both types. The cost and heat transfer performance of semi-synthetic fluids lie between those of synthetic and soluble oil fluids.

Delivery methods
Every conceivable method of applying cutting fluid (e.g., flooding, spraying, dripping, misting, brushing) can be used, with the best choice depending on the application and the equipment available. For many metal cutting applications the ideal has long been high-pressure, high-volume pumping to force a stream of liquid (usually an oil-water emulsion) directly into the tool-chip interface, with walls around the machine to contain the splatter and a sump to catch, filter, and recirculate the fluid. This type of system is commonly employed, especially in manufacturing. It is often not a practical option for MRO or hobbyist metalcutting, where smaller, simpler machine tools are used. Fortunately it is also not necessary in those applications, where heavy cuts, aggressive speeds and feeds, and constant, all-day cutting are not vital. As technology continually advances, the flooding paradigm is no longer always the clear winner. It has been complemented since the 2000s by new permutations of liquid, aerosol, and gas delivery, such as minimum quantity lubrication and through-the-tool-tip cryogenic cooling (detailed below). Through-tool coolant systems, also known as through-spindle coolant systems, are systems plumbed to deliver coolant through passages inside the spindle and through the tool, directly to the cutting interface.

Many of these are also high-pressure coolant systems, in which the operating pressure can be hundreds to several thousand psi (1 to 30 MPa)pressures comparable to those used in hydraulic circuits. Highpressure through-spindle coolant systems require rotary unions that can withstand these pressures. Drill bits and endmills tailored for this use have small holes at the lips where the coolant shoots out. Various types of gun drills also use similar arrangements.

Cutting Fluid Selection Criteria


The principal criteria for selection of a cutting fluid for a given machining operation are: 1. 2. 3. 4. Process performance : Heat transfer performance Lubrication performance Chip flushing Fluid mist generation Fluid carry-off in chips Corrosion inhibition Fluid stability (for emulsions) Cost Performance Environmental Performance Health Hazard Performance

Cutting Fluid Maintenance and Disposal


Cutting fluid maintenance involves checking the concentration of soluble oil emulsions (using refractometers), pH (using a pH meter), the quantity of tramp oil (hydraulic oil leaking into the cutting fluid system) and the quantity of particulates in the f luid. Action taken to maintain the fluid includes adding make-up concentrate or water, skimming of tramp oil, adding biocides to prevent bacterial growth and filtering the particulates by centrifuging:

The cutting fluid within a coolant system degrades with time due to bacterial growth and contamination with tramp oil and fine metal swarf from the machining operation. When it becomes uneconomical to maintain the fluid by regular make-up operations it is dumped. Prior to letting the fluid flow into a sewer system, it should be treated to bring the fluid composition to safe disposal levels.