For manufacturers that are looking to improve the performance and health of their CNC machines, there are several different variables that need to be taken into consideration—specifically the material being machined and the correct lubrication processes.
When it comes to lubrication, there are two types of lubricant that are used in CNC machine operations: the metalworking or cutting fluid used on the cutting surfaces, and the behind-the-scenes lubricant that assists the internal machinery. Making the right choices for both is essential to maximizing machine performance and health. Using the wrong metalworking fluid has the potential to be disastrous, as it not only affects tool life, but also directly impacts product quality. Likewise, drilling speeds, feed rate and the type of material being machined all impact the life of the metalworking tool, as well as the productivity of your CNC machinery.
To help you get the most out of your machines while preventing breakdowns and wear, here are 3 ways lubrication can improve CNC machine operations:
1) Prevents Chipping & Built Up Edge (BUE)
For anyone who’s ever had a big piece of metal welded onto their tooling, you know how much of a problem BUE can be. Some materials (mainly aluminum, steel, and titanium) are prone to chip welding, where metal chips break off during the cutting process, and get welded back onto the cutting tool due to extreme heat and friction. This can quickly lead to a broken cutting tool, or a tool that won’t delivered desired results—such as lower quality product, and more maintenance—but can all be avoided by using the proper metalworking fluid for your operation and material.
Lubrication helps your tool cut more easily, therefore generating less heat and friction, while also helping clear the chips away from your cut. Although coatings can be used on your tools to also provide lubrication, those coatings tend to be fragile and don’t deal with the problem as well as a mist or flood metalworking fluid. In fact, some machinists will flat out tell you that you can’t machine aluminum without some form of lubrication.
2) Combats Heat or Friction
In addition to preventing BUE, reducing the heat and friction of your tool has several other benefits for your machine. Overheating your tool can increasing wear and dullness, while also bending the tool out of shape. As the name implies, coolant is essential for cooling off your tool during the cutting process, and the right coolant for your material and process will help extend the life of your tooling.
3) Reduce Cycle Times with Aftermarket Tool Coatings
While metalworking fluids are typically the most effective lubricant for CNC machines, aftermarket tool coatings can also provide some of the same benefits. Sending out your tools to get these protective coatings is a service that can provide beneficial return. For example, aluminum oxide can help reduce cycle times, while also improving tool life, feed rates, and cutting speeds.
For most CNC operations, metalworking fluids are necessary for ensuring the highest quality cuts and end product, while also helping to maximize the efficiency of your process. That being said, determining which fluid is best for your application and how much to use can be difficult. At U.S. Lubricants, we can help you determine which fluids are best for your materials and application, and also help you figure out the ideal amount to use as well.
To find out more about how U.S. Lubricants can help you extend the life of your CNC operations, contact Tony Springer at TSpringer@uslube.com or by phone at (800) 490-4900 ext. 8823