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Machining Coolant Types: What Works Best for Metal?

In the conventional machining or metal cutting process, excess material gets accumulated on the workpiece in the form of chips. A wedge-shaped cutting tool gradually removes the excess material from the workpiece. The continuous friction between moving chips and the rake surface of the cutting tool generates intense heat in the cutting zone. A suitable machining coolant maintains the temperature in the cutting zone within limits and prevents the burning of the machined surface.

It is worth noting that the function of a machining coolant is different from that of a lubricant. A coolant removes the generated cutting heat from the machining zone. In contrast, a lubricant reduces the rate of heat generation in the machining zone by minimizing the dynamic coefficient of friction between the rake surface of the cutting tool and chips. The role of a machining lubricant starts before heat generation occurs, unlike a coolant that starts working after heat generation. A suitable cutting fluid, also called a metalworking fluid, can work both as a machining coolant and lubricant.

Below, we discuss the types of machining coolants, the challenges of working with coolants, and how you can meet your requirements for metal plates or bar stock supply cut to specific dimensions with the help of industrial-quality sawing resources.

Types of Machining Coolants and Their Suitability to Metals

Based on their formulations, machining coolants are broadly categorized into oil-based and chemical coolants.

Oil-Based Machining Coolants

These are divided into 100% petroleum or mineral oils (straight oils) and soluble oils containing 60-90% petroleum or mineral oil with emulsifiers and other additives. Straight oils are particularly useful for low-speed operations. Wetting agents and extreme-pressure additives such as chlorine, sulfur, and phosphorus compounds are added to straight oils for severe cutting operations involving superalloys and stainless steels. Soluble oils improve cooling capabilities due to the blending of oil and water. Coolants containing soluble oils are used for light to heavy-duty applications involving ferrous and non-ferrous metals.

Chemical Machining Coolants

Also called synthetic or semi-synthetic fluids, chemical machining coolants contain very little oil and mix easily with water. Synthetic fluids have no petroleum or mineral oil and have a high cooling capacity for operations such as surface grinding. Simple synthetics or true solutions are being used for light-duty grinding operations. For a high-speed machining process at faster feed rates, complex synthetics are used.

In contrast, emulsifiable synthetics have better wettability and good cooling capabilities that are particularly useful in cutting operations on high-temperature alloys. Emulsifiable synthetics have additional chemical agents such as amines and nitrites, phosphates, and others that make them useful as both synthetic lubricants and coolants during heavy-duty machining operations. Semi-synthetic fluids are a hybrid of soluble oils and synthetics. These fluids have better cooling properties than soluble oils and are used for high-speed cutting operations with faster feed rates.

Compared to standard carbon steel, metals such as titanium, Inconel, and stainless steel are hard to machine and require machining coolants with higher amounts of oil. Materials such as aluminum, brass, and standard carbon steel require machine coolant concentrations with increased water content for additional cooling.

The choice of the right machining coolant depends on several factors, including the metal you are working with, the type of machine or equipment used, and machining operations and speeds. The right coolant systems reduce operations costs and improves the productivity and lifespan of machining tools. Partnering with a team of experienced professionals with industrial-quality sawing resources can help you overcome the challenges of determining the right machining coolant for your specific metal sawing requirements.

Outsourcing Your Metal Sawing Requirements

At Industrial Metal Service, we provide precision sawing of high-strength metals and alloys such as nickel, stainless steel, and titanium. With our advanced Amada PCSAW 530 X, we can easily and quickly cut specialty metals to the dimensions you require for your production processes. As a trusted and reputed metal supplier in the San Francisco Bay Area and nationwide, we have been providing industrial metal sawing services to our clients for more than two decades. With clean, accurate metal cutting, we ensure reduced material wastage and improved cost savings for your business.

At Industrial Metal Service, we understand the challenges of metal cutting and figuring out the right machining coolant for operations. We take care of all your metal sawing needs to help you focus on machining, welding, and fabricating.

Published by IMS Team

Industrial Metal Service has decades of experience and over 1.1 billion pounds of metal sold and recycled. Our founder, Jeff, has spent his life in the industry and prides himself on offering fair, efficient, trustworthy, knowledgeable, outstanding customer service. We offer metal salesmetal recycling pickup service, and other associated services, such as precise metal sawing, machinery teardown, and warehouse cleanupGive us a call and we’ll get it done.