Coolants are extremely important to the operation of metalworking and tooling machinery in manufacturing plants. They are key to reducing heat and friction in machining systems, and to protecting the metal surfaces during operations.
In order to maximize the effectiveness and life of your coolants, plant and maintenance managers need to be extra-thorough when it comes to selecting a coolant type. Coolants are easily contaminated by tramp oil, swarf, dissolved minerals, and other debris—and once they’re contaminated, the performance and life of the coolant suffers significantly. The presence of these foreign substances creates more friction in your machine, eliminating both the lubricating and heat transferring benefits of the coolant.
To prevent this from happening, automated mixing systems, proper hardware, and coolant management procedures can be used to help extend your coolants’ life, as well as improve your machine and tooling reliability and performance. As a matter fact, here are our 6 suggestions for extending your coolant’s life:
Tip #1 — Use an Automated Mixing and Dispensing System
If you aren’t careful with your lubricant mixing and dispensing, it doesn’t take much for the concentration of your coolant to become either too low or too high. Either situation can be caused by inconsistent mixing procedures and/or equipment.
Most coolants are formulated to work over a range of different dilutions, but the optimal concentration will depend on the materials being machined, the process, and the tooling itself. The workable range is generally between 4% and 12% coolant concentrate. To help ensure you mix the perfect amount of concentrate and water every time, use automated mixing and dispensing systems to eliminate the chances of human error.
Tip #2 — Use a Coalescer for Sump Circulation and Removing Tramp Oil
Tramp oil contamination is one of the most common causes of coolant degradation. By using a Coalescer, plant and maintenance managers can prevent bacterial growth and prolong coolant life. Coalescers are portable, pump-side units that provide continuous cleaning and circulation of the coolant, remove tramp oil, and provide aeration—making them a preventative maintenance must-have.
Tip #3 — Only Use Good-Quality Water
Because coolant concentrate only makes up a minority percentage of the solution (as well as small amounts of other ingredients like antifoams, dyes, and additives), having the right water is just as important as having the right coolant concentration. The use of DI (Deionized), RO (reverse-osmosis filtering technology), or good-quality city water is paramount to the longevity of your coolant, control of biological contaminants, and integrity of your metalworking/tooling processes.
Tip #4 — Test Coolant on a Routine Basis
Due to the probability of coolant breakdown over time, it’s imperative that you test fluids on routine basis to make sure they’re still okay to use in your system. Among easy onsite tests you can conduct are testing pH concentration and biological contaminant levels. In addition, for systems of size, your coolant vendors can run more in-depth laboratory testing to ensure you are continuing to use a good-quality, robust fluid in your system. For example, a low pH in a soluble-oil type coolant can be an indication that the emulsion is beginning to, or is already, falling apart. Likewise, if your coolant contains extended life inhibitors, you want to make sure those inhibitors are not depleted, which can be tested via lab analysis.
Tip #5 — Flush Your System When it’s Time to Replace Coolant
Once it is time to replace a coolant, make sure you have proper changeover/replacement procedures in place. Proper procedures include removing all fluids, flushing the system, and removing any contamination in sumps and machines, including reservoirs. You may also need to add an alkaline cleaner to the system prior to pumping out old fluid. For more specific recommendations on flushing your system, contact U.S. Lubricants or your fluid supplier.
Tip #6 — Choose the Right Lubricant!
Last but not least, the best overall way to maximize your coolant’s life is by choosing the ideal coolant formulation from the start. In metalworking applications, the right coolant will be based primarily on the metal type in process (e.g., ferrous vs. non-ferrous, aluminum vs. steel, etc.). When possible, try using a low-foaming coolant to increase the life of the fluid and reduce the need for, and cost of, tank side additives. In addition, use a clean-running fluid to reduce any oily residue and prevent build-up.
Regardless what application you use coolants for, it’s crucial that your fluid supplier knows how to set you up with the ideal coolant for your machines. At U.S. Lubricants, our Intelligent Lubrication Services will carefully analyze your company’s situation and provide you with a specialized formulation that extends coolant life, maximizes recovery, and reduces coolant consumption and the associated cost. Our AquaGlide™ Coolants, stack up against the best metalworking coolants in the industry!
To learn more about how U.S. Lubricants can help you extend your coolant life and reduce your overall spending on coolants, please contact Tony Springer at TSpringer@uslube.com or by phone at (800) 490-4900 ext. 8823.