Metal cutting fluids why do we need them
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Metal Cutting Fluids Why do we need them?. Cooling Lubrication Also provides:- Swarf Flushing Corrosion Protection. Metalworking Fluids. Basic Principles of Metal CuttingFluids ; What they are & how to use them correctly. What are neat cutting oils?.

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Metal Cutting Fluids Why do we need them?

  • Cooling

  • Lubrication

    Also provides:-

    • Swarf Flushing

    • Corrosion Protection

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Metalworking Fluids

Basic Principles of Metal CuttingFluids ; What they are & how to use them correctly

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What are neat cutting oils?

The performance of a neat cutting oil is influenced by 3 factors:-

  • Viscosity

  • Additives

  • Levels of additives

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Viscosity (at specific temperature)

Measured in centistokes (cSt @ 40c)

Range from 5 to 40 cSt

Water = 1cSt

Hydraulic = 32cSt

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Effects of viscosity

Cooling &

Swarf Flushing


Viscosity Viscosity

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Lubricity additives

  • Base Mineral Oils

    Highly refined oils of high, medium or low viscosity

  • Esters

    Natural fats

    Vegetable oils

    Synthetic esters

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Lubricity additives

  • Anti-wear additives

    Typically phosphorous compounds or ZDDP

  • E.P. (extreme pressure ) additives

    Chlorinated paraffins


    Usually sulphurised esters or polysulphides

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Neat Oils vs Soluble Coolants







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What are coolants?



Add to


Emulsifiers &











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Coolant jargon

  • Conventional soluble oil

  • Semi-synthetic

  • Synthetic

  • Extreme pressure

  • Biostable

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Factors affecting Coolant life

  • Micro-Organisms

  • Tramp oil

  • Water Quality

  • System Design

  • People

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Micro-Organisms ( typically bacteria / fungi)

  • Results in:-

    • Bad smells

    • Coolant separation

    • Corrosion

    • Increased disposal costs

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Common Types Of Micro -Organisms

  • Aerobic bacteria

    -live in the presence of airAnaerobic bacteria

    -live in the absence of air(bad eggs)

  • Yeasts/ Moulds /Fungi

    -visible organism (rubber-like)

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Tramp Oil

  • Oil from positive lubrication & leaks

  • Often resulting in:-

    • Bacteria attack

    • Coolant separation

    • Smoke and fume

    • High disposal cost

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Water Quality

  • The presence of inorganic

  • salts in coolant make up

  • water will affect:-

    • Coolant stability

    • Foaming

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Water Quality

Ideal Water

Hardness =


Chloride zero

Sulphate zero





Soap formation

Coolant instability


Bacterial attack



Water hardness expressed as ppm. (parts per million )

as calcium carbonate.

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Coolant mixing

  • Always add oil to water(use a

  • mixing valve if possible)

  • Always mix coolant before

  • adding to the coolant sump

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Monitoring & control





specified limits.

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Monitoring & control

  • Possible. skin irritation

  • Expensive (product waste)

  • Foaming

If concentration becomes too high.

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Monitoring & control

  • Bacterial attack

  • Corrosion

  • Increased disposal

  • Expensive

If concentration becomes too low.

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Monitoring and control

  • How is concentration measured?

  • Refractometer --- on-site

  • Titration --- on-site / lab.

  • Instrumentation --- lab.

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How is Condition Measured? pH readings

4.5 5.0 5.5 6.0 6.5 7.0 7.5 8.0 8.5 9.0 9.5 10.0






favours bacterial


good corrosion


acceptable to skin

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IP 125

Steel swarf on

a cast iron plate.

(overnight test)

IP 287

Cast iron swarf

on a filter paper.

(2 hour test )

Monitoring corrosion protection

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Soluble Oil Trials Machine Cleaning

Antisep Biocidal Cleaner (A.B.C.) kills bacteria & dissolves dirt to ensure the new coolant has a good start.

  • 2-4% A.B.C. circulated with coolant for 24/48 hours

  • Empty & rinse

  • Refill with pre-mixed coolant at correct conc.

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Health and safety Skincare

  • Handling concentrates

  • Concentration control

  • Hygiene

  • Proper use of skin creams

  • Good housekeeping

  • HSE guide to metalworking

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Environmental & H&S Issues

There is an increasing demand for products that are ‘FREE’- from e.g.:-

  • Nitrite-free

  • Chlorine-free

  • PCA -free

  • Phenol-free

  • DEA-free

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Environmental & H&S Issues

  • Nitrite

    Can react with amines to form ‘nitrosamines’ (carcinogenic).

  • DEA -diethanolamine

    Can react with nitrogen from the air to form ‘nitrosamines.

Nitrite/DEA in fluids is a health and safety issue, not environmental

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Environmental & H&S Issues

  • Chlorine

    Disposal by burning can form dioxin, a carcinogen

    Special incinerators needed for safe disposal

    Disposal cost is very high in Europe

Chlorine is an environmental issue, not health and safety

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FLUIDCARE SERVICES Health risks and MWF mists

  • HSE are demanding that metalworking fluids users should clearly demonstrate that they take every practicable step to control fluids, improve their condition and reduce exposure.

  • We recognise that the new guidance on health risks especially regarding asthma and respiratory diseases will pose problems for users. We offer a package of services aimed at helping customers identify the risks and effective measures of prevention and control.

  • Risk assessment

  • Fluids testing and bio-audits

  • Exposure monitoring

  • Atmosphere control

  • New Scandmist air filtration products are also available to remove both mist and bacteria from machine enclosures. Click on the download to learn more about the issues and to see Houghton products and services.

  • Visit for further information.


Preventing respiratory diseases and metalworking fluids

ScandMist air filtration equipment