A note on the use of the minimum quantity

lubrication (MQL) system in turning
Diego Carou
Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal

Eva M. Rubio
Department of Manufacturing Engineering, National University of Distance Education (UNED), Madrid, Spain, and

J. Paulo Davim
Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal
Abstract
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to provide a practical review of the use of the minimum quantity lubrication (MQL) system in turning
operations, focussing on the application of the technique in the turning of different kind of materials.
Design/methodology/approach – The use of the MQL system was analysed by several researchers in the past years. Thus, in the present paper,
a relevant sample of the main experimental studies that can be found in the literature was analysed to come up with a review with relevant
information for researchers and industry.
Findings – The use of the MQL system can help to improve the outcomes of the turning process in several issues like surface quality or tool life.
However, it was also recognised that in some cases, other cooling/lubricating methods can provide better results than the MQL system. Thus, the
decision, whether to use or not the MQL system in a specific process, is of great importance.
Originality/value – The work is conveniently focussed to serve as a quick reference on the issue. At the same time, the work analysed the use of
the turning of some of the main engineering materials that makes it useful for a wider range of researchers and metalworking firms. Finally, the
review could be useful to improve the performance of the industry, especially for the metalworking firms in terms of costs, environmental impact
and safety.
Keywords Cutting fluids, Light alloys, Minimum quantity lubrication, Nickel-base alloys, Steels, Turning
Paper type General review

1. Introduction

conventional cooling, highlighting cooling by flooding, mist
cooling and high pressure systems (Avallone and Baumeister,
1996; Courbon et al., 2009).
However, there are also some disadvantages associated to
the use of the cutting fluids such as their costs, environmental
impact and safety (Klocke and Eisenblätter, 1997; Kurgin
et al., 2012). These drawbacks encourage the research on the
development of new cutting fluids such as the bio-based
cutting fluids (Ozcelik et al., 2011) and new
cooling/lubricating alternatives. Among them, dry machining
is one of the most promising, representing the ultimate goal to
achieve machining processes environmentally friendly.
Nevertheless, dry machining processes need to give
comparable results as conventional cooling processes, in terms
of operation time, tool life and surface quality.
The absence of cutting fluids in machining has as main
disadvantages the appearance of adhesion mechanisms, heat
generation, increase in friction between tool and workpiece
and poor chip evacuation. However, dry machining offers as

Traditionally, cutting fluids have been used in machining to
reduce the friction and the temperature reached in the process
(Nouari, 2003). The cutting fluids used in machining can be
classified into two main groups: neat cutting oils and
water-soluble fluids (El Baradie, 1996).
The use of cutting fluids can also provide additional
advantages such as:

the removal of the chips from the tool rake face;

the limitation of chemical diffusion;

diminishing tool wear;

diminishing power consumption; and

the protection of the machined surfaces from corrosion
(Nouari, 2003; Avallone and Baumeister, 1996).
However, the performance of the cutting fluids is conditioned
by several issues such as the type of operation, cutting
conditions and workpiece material (De Chiffre and Belluco,
2000). In addition, several application methods can be used in

The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on
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The authors thank to the Research Group of the UNED “Mechanical,
Materials and Manufacturing Technologies (TM3)” the given support
during the development of this work, and funding of the Spanish Ministry
of Science and Innovation (Project DPI2011-27135) and of the Industrial
Engineering School-UNED (Project REF2014-ICF05) to carry it out.

Industrial Lubrication and Tribology
67/3 (2015) 256 –261
© Emerald Group Publishing Limited [ISSN 0036-8792]
[DOI 10.1108/ILT-07-2014-0070]

Received 31 July 2014
Revised 31 July 2014
Accepted 1 September 2014

256

1997). 2008). 2008).. in combination with the high cutting speeds required. The present work is focussed on the study of one of the aforementioned alternatives: the MQL system. gaseous refrigeration (Çakır et al. 2002). 2004.. oxidation stability and storage stability must be also considered (Weinert et al. also known as near dry machining (NDM). make difficult the use of the dry machining.. nozzle configuration. 2007. aluminium alloys and magnesium alloys.. than in conventional cooling (Weinert et al. at least. derived from Jawahir’s tool wear prediction under dry machining. taping or thread forming) in which.Minimum quantity lubrication (MQL) system in turning Industrial Lubrication and Tribology Diego Carou. but there are other operations (drilling. Filipovic and Stephenson (2006) state that drilling without coolants can produce excessive thermal distortion and poor tool life.. dry machining is not an adequate technique for all the processes needed in the industry (Kelly and Cotterell. The selection of the cutting fluids cannot be done based on their primary properties (refrigeration. (2004) analyses several cutting operations using as material workpiece: aluminium. it is interesting to contrast the properties of the method against the objective and traditional methods: dry and wet machining. mixed with air. Weinert et al. Sharma et al. because of the adhesion of chips to the tool... 2009). flood cooling and MQL system (Grzesik.000 times lower volumes of fluids. In this sense. There are several processes in which it is not possible to suppress the cutting fluids. 2008) or MQL system can be used (Figure 1). For instance. using up to 10. 2004). Paulo Davim Volume 67 · Number 3 · 2015 · 256 –261 2. Therefore. it is possible to see this comparison. Therefore. 2008) Figure 1 Main cooling/lubricating systems 257 . cryogenic refrigeration (Yildiz and Nalbant. In Figure 2. in the present work. Gaitonde et al. reaming. Despite the technological development produced in recent years. 2003). Rubio and J. their secondary properties: biodegradability. Some of these cutting operations can be done using dry machining. 2009) or brasses (Davim et al. excellent oxidation stability and satisfactory cutting performance. The main application method used in the MQL system is the use of compressed air plus a cutting fluid flow (Figure 3). and the second one provides a revision of some of the main experimental research on this alternative. cast iron and steel. MQL. titanium alloys. such as type of cutting fluid. to predict the results when using MQL systems [equation (1)]: 冉 冊冉 共 兲 km vR ⴱ T ⫽ TR ⴱ n1 n2 v f ⴱd 1 1 nc NNDM 冊 (1) Figure 2 Comparative properties of dry machining. steels and light metals: titanium alloys. In this sense. being mist generation the main disadvantage of this method. The study is divided in two sections. is an alternative to conventional cooling. Fratila (2013) states that the workpiece materials used in the aerospace industry (nickel alloys. including both cutting parameters and cooling system. 2006). The first one shows a general approximation to the MQL system. Co-Cr alloys). Secondary properties were studied by Wakabayashi et al. 2004). The use of the MQL system as an alternative method to wet machining has to consider the special characteristics of the method. In the case of drilling. Minimum quantity lubrication an advantage the absence of thermal shocks (Klocke and Eisenblätter. the review only covers nickel-base alloys. To solve this problem. the use of the minimum quantity lubrication (MQL) system is recommended. Marksberry and Jawahir (2008) developed a model.’s (2006) finding that some synthetic polyol esters exhibit high biodegradability.. focussing on characteristics of great importance such as the cooling and lubricating effect or the chip transport (Grzesik. 2005). Eva M. Although the use of the MQL system has been evaluated in the turning of different kind of materials such as metal matrix composites (MMCs) (Davim et al. volume rate or pressure. lubrication and chip evacuation). alternatives such as solid lubricants (Shaji and Radhakrishnan. MQL systems reduce drastically the cutting fluid consumption. machining must be done using conventional cooling or other alternatives. Thus. which pose a health hazard to operators (Ezugwu. can be selected in the MQL systems. dry machining is not recommended in drilling of Al-Si alloys (Dhar et al. In this sense. A wide range of parameters. sawing. the prediction of the results is not easy.

n2 ⫽ Empirical constants. authors evaluate the results in terms of flank wear when using dry and wet machining. 3 A PVD monolayer coating of TiAlN. but poorer results than those obtained when using conventional cooling. obtaining better tool life when using the MQL system than when using dry machining. In addition. From another side.100 steel. n1. using 10. 30 and 60 ml/h.1 Nickel-base alloys The use of the MQL system in nickel-base alloys turning can be a good alternative to wet machining. Kamata and Obikawa (2007) also analysed the high-speed grooving of Inconel 718. VR ⫽ Reference cutting speed for 1 min of tool life. (2008) proves how. The results show how the CO2 MQL system can provide better tool life results than aqueous flood coolant in rough turning of Inconel 750. (2014) studied the rough turning process of Inconel 750. when using a cover-type nozzle. the results of the MQL system are closer to those obtained under wet machining.Minimum quantity lubrication (MQL) system in turning Industrial Lubrication and Tribology Diego Carou. In this sense. it can improve the tool life or tool wear. Paulo Davim Volume 67 · Number 3 · 2015 · 256 –261 Figure 3 Scheme of the MQL system use of the MQL system allows to obtain better values than those obtained when machining with wet conditions. Nc ⫽ Coating effect factor. Eva M. compressed air and the MQL system. 2 A physical vapour deposition (PVD) superlattice coating of TiN/AlN. Experimental research 3. In their tests. The surface roughness measured at the end of the tool life shows how the 3. F ⫽ Feed rate. the one provided by Diniz et al. testing three types of coatings: 1 A chemical vapour deposition (CVD) three-layer coating of TiCN/Al2O3/TiN. V ⫽ Cutting speed. Where the factors represent: T ⫽ Tool life.2 to 15 ml/h. the use of especially designed nozzles can lead to benefits in tool life when the oil mist is conveniently applied to the cutting zone in the turning of Inconel 718. Rubio and J. In their study. D ⫽ Depth of cut. TR K. (2003) in the hard turning of AISI 52. even using very small amounts of cutting fluid. For instance. Analysing the surface roughness.2 Steels The field of steels has a wide set of experimental investigations on the use of the MQL system. the work by Obikawa et al. 258 . ⫽ Reference tool life for 1 min. In their work. and even better than when using conventional cooling for two of the three coatings analysed. Flow rates used in the research were from 0. 3. In particular. authors show that the MQL system can offer tool life longer than when using dry machining conditions. respectively. 2007). the MQL systems improve the results obtained with conventional cooling and dry machining (Kamata and Obikawa. M ⫽ Constant depending on the manufacturing process. NNDM ⫽ Contribution of the cooling system in the process. Stephenson et al. with polycrystalline cubic boron nitride tools and a cutting speed of 110 m/min. authors compared the performance of aqueous flood and CO2 MQL.

cutting ratio. The use of the MQL system shows higher average tool life than when using wet machining for several types of tools: WC-Co and AlSiTiN. these results being better than the ones obtained with wet machining. there is an optimum MQL flow rate that leads to a moderate improvement in the surface roughness.5 MPa soybean oil Flow rate: 10. (2009) Sreejith (2008) Itoigawa et al.3 Light alloys 3. Concretely. surface finish. (2003) Dhar et al. Regarding the surface roughness. no reduction in tool wear was observed. Itoigawa et al. tool life.2 Aluminium alloys Sreejith (2008) analysed the turning process of 6061 aluminium alloy using the MQL system. (2002) Attanasio et al. (2007) studied the intermittent turning of A6063-T5 aluminium alloy. However. which mainly consists of a triol-ester with large polarity Flow rate: 10 ml/h Flow rate: 4. 90 and 130 m/min. the MQL system and dry machining offered close values. testing two types of cutting fluids: 1 Paraffinic mineral oil without additives. Two different supply methods were tested to compare their results to the ones obtained when using dry machining. In continuous cutting. (2002) researched the use of the MQL system.2-15 ml/h/Pressure: 0. authors researched the orthogonal turning of Ti6Al4V alloy.3. Authors studied the turning process of AISI 4.and TiCN-coated tools. and even better than the ones obtained with the conventional cooling. The effect on the tool wear of the MQL system is evaluated in the work by Attanasio et al. depending on the lubricant types and the temperature on the tool face.25 MPa ester oil with EP additive Flow rate: 10 ml/h vegetable-based cutting oil Vegetable oil Vegetable oil Flow rate: 50 and 100 ml/h commercial oil Paraffinic mineral oil without additives and refined vegetable oil.. within the range analysed. (2006) Settireni and Faga (2008) Wang et al.3. Another experimental work on steels is the one provided by Dhar et al. (2009) also studied the turning of titanium alloys. at the higher cutting speed the maximum value only reaches 4. based on statistical analysis.4 MPa Ester and compressed air Flow rate: 16. The main results of the research include the recognition that the lubrication-cooling technique does not significantly affect the tool wear. using a vegetable oil during continuous and interrupted cutting. The application of the MQL system is analysed by Rubio et al.1 Titanium alloys Settireni and Faga (2008) studied the turning process of TA48 titanium alloy. The finish turning process of AISI 420B was studied by Bruni et al. Rubio and J. higher Table I Main characteristics of the MQL systems used in reviewed turning processes Authors Material MQL conditions Obikawa et al. Concretely. 3. 2012).340 steel.4 min. whereas when choosing the rake. Eva M. the optimum value for the MQL flow rate was identified in 4.5 ml/h (Table I). using a mineral oil as cutting fluid. The work studies repair and maintenance operations. (2014) in the intermittent turning of UNS M11917 magnesium alloy.Minimum quantity lubrication (MQL) system in turning Industrial Lubrication and Tribology Diego Carou. (2007) Inconel 718 Inconel 718 Inconel 750 AISI 52100 AISI 4340 AISI 4340 100Cr6 AISI 420B TA48 Ti6Al4V 6061 A6063-T5 Rubio et al.3.3 Magnesium alloys Magnesium alloys are increasing their use in several industrial sectors like the aerospace and automotive (Pu et al. improved tool life and better surface finish as compared to dry and wet machining. 3. (2014) Diniz et al. (2014) UNS M11917 Flow rate: 0. considering that the use of the MQL system is more effective than the use of dry machining and wet machining. In the experimental tests. testing cutting speeds of 50.8 ml/h/Pressure: 0. reaching a maximum value of 7. the MQL system seems to be more effective than wet machining because of its better lubrication ability. The results of the study recognise that the MQL system can produce results comparable with that of wet machining conditions. (2006). (2006) in the turning of 100Cr6 steel. it was identified a better performance of the MQL system than that of the dry machining and wet machining on the basis of cutting force. whilst the use of wet machining produces the highest surface roughness. (2006) Bruni et al. Concretely.45 MPa Flow rate: 60 ml/h/Pressure: 0. finding that. comparing dry machining and wet machining to the MQL system. In the MQL case.4 MPa commercial mineral oil Flow rate: 20 mg/h/Pressure: 0.7 MPa Flow rate: 0. (2006) Varadarajan et al. when machining at high cutting speed and feed rate. (2008) Kamata and Obikawa (2007) Stephenson et al. Varadarajan et al.4-0. The same is highlighted in the case of interrupted cutting. finding that the use of the MQL system provided reduced tool wear. cutting temperature and tool-chip contact length. values of tool life are obtained at the lower cutting speeds. flank and rake MQL methods were tested. Wang et al. and the MQL system. 30 and 60 ml/h/Pressure: 0. (2006). Paulo Davim Volume 67 · Number 3 · 2015 · 256 –261 Close values of flank wear were obtained for dry machining and the MQL system. The results show how a beneficial effect of the MQL system appears when supplying the cutting fluid to the flank. 2 Refined vegetable oil that are supplied to the cutting zone using an MQL system with a flow rate of 10 ml/h.6 MPa biodegradable synthetic ester Flow rate: 10-20 ml/h/Pressure: 16. The results of the work suggest that the lubrication mechanism of the MQL aluminium cutting considerably changes.340 steel. and that the use of the MQL technique does not provide advantages in comparison to dry cutting in terms of tool life and surface roughness.5 and 9 ml/h 259 . testing dry and wet machining. in the turning process of AISI 4.033 ml/h/Pressure: 0.5 min. 3.

D. Avallone. 1114-1125. Vol. but establishing as strategy the reduction of the quantity of cutting fluid consumed. Sreejith.). Vol. F. and Simoncini. pp. 1-21. Vols 153/154. in some cases.P. pp. several alternatives have been developed such as. and Kopac. W. “Comparison of methods for cutting fluid performance testing”. pp. Ferreira.. M. Wear. 355-365. T. 459-464. Rech. Eva M. 327-334. “Effect of the lubrication-cooling technique. pp. T.. J. 281-286. (1996). Giardini. pp. Courbon. 21-23. works were classified in: nickel-base alloys. and Remino. etc. 3. J. M.S. El Baradie. and Silva. and Ahmed. Thus. New York. in Grzesik. NY. C. pp. and Filho.T. 3.C. 35-41. Pusavec. Heidelberg. Dhar.E. N. In this sense. Diniz. and Davim. Vol. Amsterdam.. (2008). “Minimal lubrication machining of aluminium alloys”. (2004). insert technology and machine bed material on the workpart surface finish and tool wear in finish turning of AISI 420B”. pp. (2006). J. Machining Science and Technology. (2007). M. “Selection of optimal MQL and cutting conditions for enhancing machinability in turning of brass”.000 times lower than that of the used in wet machining. Grzesik. steels and light metals. 45-50. Kelly. Vol. International Journal of Machine Tools and Manufacture. Of special interest is the case of the MQL system. for instance.). International Journal of Machine Tools and Manufacture. pp. P. A. T. and Obikawa. F. pp. Journal of Materials Processing Technology. (Ed. Vol. J. O. Machining Science and Technology. Journal of Materials Processing Technology. CIRP Annals – Manufacturing Technology. (2009). 57-60. as it was identified. Y. The use of the MQL system maintains the main philosophy and objectives of wet machining (reduction of friction. Itoigawa. 49 No. 43 No. Rubio and J. 204 Nos 1/3. the use of the MQL system must be conveniently assessed for each specific process. “High speed MQL finish-turning of Inconel 718 with different coated tools”. Çakır. Fratila. and Cotterell. (2002). W. Thus. 2-22.A. Nakamura. Conclusions Machine Tools and Manufacture. (2005). magnesium alloys and titanium alloys. Section 3 provides a revision of some of the main experimental works on the use of the MQL system. J. Takeuchi. both industry and researchers have focussed their attention in the search for alternatives to the use of conventional cutting fluids in machining processes. 22 No. pp. T. pp. Materials and Manufacturing Processes.R. 11 No. 786-797. (Ed.. Paulo Davim Volume 67 · Number 3 · 2015 · 256 –261 4.. reduction of temperature. (2006). pp. “Dry and semi-dry machining”.. “Experimental study on lubrication mechanism in MQL intermittent cutting process”. (2006). 1. (2006).A. pp. “Minimum Quantity Lubrication (MQL) applications in automotive power-train machining”. 1.. 172 No. 1547-1554. Vol. 56 Nos 1/4. Gelfi.. Davim. 10 No. and Childs.P. Journal of Materials Processing Technology. “Cutting fluids: part I. pp. P. (2000). 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