How metal working fluids can boost machine shop productivity

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Umut Urkun, Industrial Marketing for Europe, Africa and the Middle East at ExxonMobil Lubricants and Specialties, explains how selecting the right metal working fluids can boost machine shop productivity.

Machine builders continue to evolve their equipment to help offer a competitive edge to their customers. This often involves the use of stronger, more precise components that has led some machine builders to operate their own metal working shops to ensure design and quality requirements are met. To help ensure that this is profitable, keeping equipment running efficiently is key.

Lubrication plays an integral role in reducing friction between rotating or moving machine tool components, which can translate into equipment durability and availability. To help ensure that the machine tool runs smoothly, it is important to choose teh right combination of high-quality lubricants – slideway oils, water-soluble cutting fluids and neat cutting oils.

Slideway oils

Poorly formulated slideway oils may not separate readily from aqueous coolants. This can result in the formation of 'tramp oil' which can compromise the effectiveness of the coolant by shortening its effective life and adversely altering cutting performance. Tramp oil can also lead to bacterial growth that results in a foul odour, short service life and potential health and safety concerns.

To identify a high-performance slideway oil, maintenance professionals should seek out products with the following performance characteristics:

  • Outstanding frictional properties – which enable increased machine accuracy and reduced chatter and stick-slip
  • Exceptional coolant separability – which enhances the performance and life of water-based metalworking fluids

One product that meets these requirements is the Mobil Vactra Oil Numbered Series of slideway oils, which have a proven track record in service.

Water-soluble cutting fluids

To optimise productivity it is very important to choose technology-leading aqueous coolants. The highest performing coolants can provide reduced maintenance requirements by resisting biological attack, which helps to extend batch life. Ease of maintenance needs to be balanced with good machining performance as well as protecting the machine tools and workpieces from corrosion and sticky deposits. In addition, the fluids should meet the latest health and safety regulations and be easy to monitor and maintain in service. Collectively, these properties will help deliver a long service life, excellent cutting performance and reduced maintenance downtime.

Neat cutting oils

Neat or straight cutting oils are used in applications that are beyond the typical performance profile of aqueous coolants, such as tapping and threading of high-alloy steels. Properly formulated products can improve machining in high-speed automated machining centres through outstanding cutting performance, reduced tool wear and enhanced surface finish. Maintenance professionals should seek products that:

  • Are light-coloured to allow clear visibility of the workpiece
  • Have low misting characteristics to help workplace safety and product usage
  • Are chlorine-free to support environmental concerns while balancing with a high degree of lubricity and machining performance

Maximising productivity

As well as incorporating high-quality metalworking fluids, machine builders that operate machine shops should also incorporate an oil and equipment monitoring programme in order to maximise productivity. Oil analysis is a series of tests that help determine the condition of internal parts and in-service lubricants. With this information, the useful lives of both equipment and oil can be extended by identifying early warning signs such as contamination and wear, which can help minimise unscheduled maintenance.

By following the suggestions provided above, businesses can help enhance overall efficiency and maximise productivity.

For more information about ExxonMobil's range of metalworking fluids or other Mobil-branded lubricants and services, contact the ExxonMobil Lubricants Technical Help Desk by emailing , telephone +420 221 456 426 or go to

31 January 2011

ExxonMobil Lubricants & Specialties Europevisit website
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