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Metalworking Fluids (MWFs) and Coolants are used for cooling, lubricating and reducing the friction between metal parts in machining operations. They are used for applications that include cutting, grinding, forming, honing, tapping, rolling, sawing and stamping. MWF’s are also used for flushing chips away from the cutting zone.


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Metalworking Fluid Functions:

  • Control heat
  • Reduce friction
  • Increase tool life
  • Remove chips
  • Corrosion and rust protection
  • Improve surface integrity and finish



Metalworking fluids and coolants are engineered for various levels of cooling and lubrication. It is important to first determine the primary use of your application so that the appropriate selection can be made.

Cutting Fluids are used for cooling and lubricating cutting tools. These fluids are engineered to improve tool life, material removal rate and surface finish.

Cutting & Cleaning lubricants are used for cooling and lubricating cutting tools. These lubricants ensure that the machines are left with a soft fluid film for easy cleaning.

Cutting & Drawing fluids are used for cooling, lubricating and stretching metal. Some of these fluids contain additives for protection under extreme pressure.

Cutting & Grinding fluids are used for cooling and lubricating when material is being removed with an abrasive wheel or belt during rotational operations.

Cutting & Sawing fluids are used for cooling, lubricating and chip removal during sawing operations. These fluids improve cutting rate, finish and extend tool life.

Cutting & Tapping fluids are used for cooling and lubricating during the cutting or forming of a screw thread in a hole or part by means of a tap. These fluids can be material specific during high-performance applications.

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Electric Discharge Machining (EDM)/Dielectric fluids are used for cooling, insulating, stabilizing and removing small amounts of material from a workpiece. These fluids are nonconductive.

Honing Fluids are used for lubricating and cleaning the whetstones during and after use. These fluids are used for edge sharpening and polishing operations.

Stamping fluids are used for the forming of metal into shapes. These fluids have high lubricity and are used for several applications including blanking, coning, punching and pressing.

The formula indicates the chemical composition of the fluid or coolant. Formulas determine whether the lubricant can work at high speeds, resist severe temperatures or withstand extreme pressure during heavy loads.

Aerosols are ideal for several applications including drilling, forming and milling nonferrous materials. They are ideal for reducing heat and can be left on the workpiece to help machining and minimize corrosion.

Emulsions are a mixture of two or more liquids containing droplets of oils and water. These fluids are used with ferrous and nonferrous metals.

Gels or spray gels are high-performance metal cutting lubricants used for ferrous and nonferrous metals. They reduce tool wear, improve performance and stand up to high-pressure applications.

Liquids are ideal for reducing friction and heat between parts. They can be used on material such as aluminum, titanium and Inconel for drilling, tapping, reaming and more.

Naphthenic Oil-Based oils are mineral-based and yield a low-to-medium viscosity index with minimal wax and low pour points. It is economical, provides precision finishes, extends tool life, and has minimal odor and high solvency capabilities.

Natural Ingredients are a mixture of nontoxic, environmentally friendly and biodegradable chemicals. They increase lubricity, reduce friction and can be used for moderate- to heavy-duty machining applications.

Pastes are ideal for single point work and provide high-quality finishes in applications such as tapping, drilling or reaming. They require little clean-up and are commonly used with a dip tool or brush.

Semi-Synthetic Fluids (SSF) combine oil and water with synthetic additives that improve lubricity with emulsifiers. They typically work well with nonferrous metals, especially those like aluminum and titanium that have a tendency to stain. Semi-Synthetic Fluids are usually low foaming and easy to maintain. They can be used as an economical alternative to synthetic fluids.

Solid Sticks or blocks are ideal for several operations including drilling, deburring, grinding and tapping. They are economical and can be applied to belts or discs prior to start-up.

Eco-Friendly:

Eco-friendly items are manufactured to help protect the environment and provide efficient solutions for your facility.



Spray Foams are high-performance cutting fluids used on several types of materials. They offer an adhesive property that makes the foam stick to the material for long periods of time during an application. They are ideal for use with cutters, drills, end mills, reamers, taps and more.

Straight Oils are derived from mineral or vegetable oil and are used for general-purpose applications. These oils do not contain water or additives and are commonly used for operations where lubricity is the primary use over cooling.

Synthetic Fluids (SF) contain no oil and are comprised of lubricating polymers with organic and inorganic materials dissolved in water. They are the most biostable of the metalworking fluids because they contain no oil or emulsifiers. Synthetic Fluids are ideal for grinding and moderate-duty machining. These fluids offer high levels of cooling and do not contain oils or emulsifiers.

Water-Soluble Oils (WSO) (Emulsions) are mineral or vegetable oils that are held in solution with water by emulsifiers. They are generally suitable for moderate- to heavy-duty applications with ferrous and nonferrous metals. Water-Soluble Oils provide great corrosion protection and lubricity but may require additional maintenance. They occasionally foam in high-pressure/high-volume systems.

Wax is a lubricating and cooling material that is non-toxic and resists abrasion. It is used for applying directly on to the cutting surface of a tool to reduce friction and provide smooth movement.


MWF SAFETY:

Maintain your machinery by replacing fluids and components on a regular schedule. Summertime is ideal for maintenance due to heat exposure and possible changes of chemical exposure. Some of the warning signs that can affect changes of a metalworking fluid include:

  • Irregular fluid appearance
  • Excessive foam
  • Chips, swarf or tramp oil floating on the fluid
  • Obscene smell
  • Low sump level
  • Dirty machines or trenches
  • Skin or respiratory irritations on a worker


Essential Tips:

Avoid hazardous situations caused by MWFs with OSHA regulated personal protective equipment (PPE) that matches the needs for facilities and the workforce. Possible health-related injuries that can be caused by MWFs include skin infections, respiratory diseases and increased risk of cancer.




Choosing the Best Fluid for the Job

What metal (s) are you machining?
Different types of metal have different machining requirements and limitations that are important to keep in mind.

What is your water's chemistry?
Cutting fluids are 90-98% water when diluted so the chemistry of the water plays a major role in a product's effectiveness.

What are you currently using?
Analyze the strengths and weaknesses of your current product to help identify what you are looking for in a cutting fluid.

What are your options?
There are three basic types of metalworking fluids: Water-Soluble Oils (Emulsions), Semi-Synthetic Fluids, and Synthetic Fluids.

What are your preferences?
Personal opinions and price considerations are often the deciding factors when choosing a new coolant.

Special Properties:

Extreme Pressure (EP) Additives: have active chemicals that react with freshly cut metal, forming a stable, non-reactive surface. This function is typically used to help control built-up edge and chip welding. Chlorine, sulfur, or phosphorous are often used in Extreme Pressure Additives.

Boundary Lubricants contain highly polar molecules that attach themselves to the metal surfaces and work to reduce friction by repelling each other.

Hydrodynamic Lubricants (Full Fluid Lubricants): form a continuous barrier of film between the two surfaces. The non-compressible nature of the film separates the surfaces to prevent metal-to-metal contact completely.



Maintenance: Steps to Getting the Most from a Metalworking Fluid

  1. Run a cleaning detergent through the sump during change-out every 6 to 12 months.
    TIP: Use an industrial sump cleaner and circulate through for one hour.
  2. Use an antimicrobial additive once a month to prevent bacteria/fungus.
    TIP: Adding the antimicrobial on Friday morning will reduce "Monday-morning smell".
  3. Swarf like dirt, filings and chips should be cleaned from the sump regularly.
    TIP: A coalescer cleans cutting fluid by removing swarf and tramp oil.
  4. *Tramp oil should be removed from the sump every day.
    TIP: A wheel skimmer is ideal for removing tramp oil but they are most effective when the machine is off.
  5. Let the machine run for an hour or more a day to aerate the sump.
    TIP: An aerating pump can be used if it isn't possible to run the machine every day.
  6. Increase performance by mixing cutting fluid before adding it to the sump.
    TIP: A drum mixer or proportioner ensures the right concentration every time.
  7. Check the sump concentration every week.
    TIP: A hand-held refractometer is the perfect tool for this job.
  8. Keep up the sump level by adding make-up frequently.
    TIP: Never add straight water or coolant concentrate to the sump and always add coolant concentrate to water when mixing

*Tramp Oil: is a by-product of using Metalworking Fluids in a Metalworking process (usually cutting, drilling or grinding). It usually manifests itself as a thin layer of film over the Metalworking Fluid and should be removed on a regular basis to avoid contaminating the Metalworking Fluid.



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Related Items and Personal Protective Equipment:

Oil Skimmers are used for pre-treating, separating or removing grease and oils from water and metalworking coolants. They are used in coolant sumps, wastewater sumps, parts washers and collection tanks. Fluid Filters & Aerators and Oil Skimmer Accessories are also available.


Respiratory Protection is essential for preventing potential hazards from mist, debris and more. MSC has a full-range of quality facepieces and cartridges, masks and respirators for every application.

Gloves & Hand Protection is one of the best ways to prevent injury from chemicals, cuts, punctures, sparks and more. No matter the application, you will find the right personal gloves for your needs.