For decades, industrial manufacturers have used flood coolants to help lubricate machines and tools while machining and metal working. The heat produced during the metal on metal cutting process can reach temperatures high enough to degrade or even destroy the cutting piece and the tools used during that machining process. So, using flood coolants to reduce this heat has been the most common method used for some time. While it does provide some heat reduction by quenching, it has many downsides.
A less common method of industrial lubrication that provides an alternative to the ecologically unfriendly coolant flooding method is known as micro lubrication… or minimum quantity lubrication. This method uses a fraction of the lubricant needed in flood cooling. Additionally, it provides far superior friction reducing results. It’s also extremely effective in eliminating much of the friction, which is what causes the heat in the first place.
While minimum quantity lubrication, or MQL is not nearly as common, it is gaining traction and becoming more popular throughout the industrial manufacturing community, as more facilities are testing it and often converting over to micro lubrication systems and lubricants.
There are several reasons manufacturers are switching to MQL and in this article we’ll layout the 5 most compelling reasons why a manufacturer should consider converting from using flood coolants to MQL systems.
1 – Friction Reduction Properties
Micro lubricants use only microscopic amounts of the lubricant, which is applied in the exact spot needed during the cutting, or machining process. Because of the chemical composition of the lubricant, it forms a thin coating on the cutting tool and work piece. If the lubricant is formulated properly, like the micro lubricants developed by Maglube, it can provide up to 300 times the lubricity of some flood coolant fluids. This is due to the chemical make up of the lubricant.
For example, at Maglube, our metalworking fluids are formulated with environmentally friendly organic oils, which form a microscopic coating of friction reducing lubricant, delivered in the precise spot it is needed during the cutting process. This micro lubricant coating performs substantially better than alternative methods of flood cooling.
See…. flood coolant fluids don’t actually reduce the friction during that cutting process. They simply cool the work piece and tool by quenching the heat after it’s been produced. So, that’s basically treating the symptom, not addressing the problem. MQL addresses the problem by reducing the friction during the cutting process. Which then leads to additional benefits gained by using micro lubrication.
2 – Virtually Eliminate Cleanup Costs and Time
In the previous section we discussed how micro lubrication uses minimal amounts of metalworking fluids in comparison to flood coolant methods. Because of the fact that 99.9% of our lubricants are burnt up during that cutting process… it means the cleanup after the machining process is virtually eliminated. The only cleanup required after machining with micro-lubricants is done by simply sweeping or vacuuming the dry cutting chips into a container to be recycled. Contrast that to the cleanup process required when using flood coolants and I’m sure you can imagine the cost savings and time savings gained by using MQL, not to mention the hazards of handling biologically unfriendly substances present in many petroleum-based fluids used in flood cooling.
So just the time savings alone means more efficiency in your manufacturing facility. Time is money! When your workers need to shut down production, so they can clean up the hazardous mess after a run using flood coolants, it’s costing your company money. That same scenario using Maglube’s MQL systems would have your production team onto the next run, instead of wasting time with the cleanup.
Additionally, because the cutting chips after a run using MQL are dry and clean, they can be placed directly into a recycling bin without needing any further cleanup. So, not only are you turning your waste, or cutting chips into an asset… your workers are spending more time producing instead of cleaning. Time is money, so MQL will save you money.
3 – Eco-Friendly Compared to Biologically Hazardous
The 21st century has brought with it an awareness of how we as humans can potentially have a detrimental effect on the environment. Industrial manufacturing is probably the industry that’s received more attention than any other… and for good reason.
In machining and manufacturing, whether it be metal, wood, plastics or rubber… we use a variety of processes. We cut, mold, bend, stamp and apply a variety of processes to the different types of materials used to create the products we all use in our everyday lives. In virtually every one of these applications… there are lubricants used to make the process more efficient, run smoother and to allow us to move faster, producing as much as possible in as short amount of time as possible. Because time is money… especially in manufacturing.
With the introduction of MQL or micro lubrication, we’ve eliminated a potentially eco-unfriendly part of the process. Because minimum quantity lubrication uses such a small amount of fluids, there’s no need for cleanup after a production run. Contrast that to a production run using petroleum-based flood coolants and you’ll quickly understand why micro lubrication is far more ecologically acceptable in today’s manufacturing process.
With up to 99.9% of the lubricant being used or burnt up during the cutting process, there’s nothing remaining that needs to be disposed. That’s just not the case with the fluids used in flood cooling. These chemicals have the need to be disposed properly. But many facilities don’t do this. They simply hose down their machines after production, allowing those eco-unfriendly wastes to be washed down the drain, eventually making it back into the environment.
This one benefit alone should be a compelling enough reason for any manufacturer to investigate the possibility of converting to micro lubrication systems. With Maglube’s MQL systems and coolants, your facility can go lean and green today.
If saving the environment isn’t quite compelling enough, keep reading as we continue explaining the 5 top reasons to convert to MQL.
4 – Cost Effective – More Efficient Manufacturing
So, we’ve established that micro-lubrication provides superior lubrication during the machining process, it can virtually eliminate cleanup time and costs, plus it offers a green alternative to the formerly hazardous methods. These qualities are reason enough to consider converting to Maglube MQL. But, when it comes down to it, the most compelling reason to go lean and switch to minimum quantity lubrication is simple… it will save money over time… a lot of money.
Depending on the type of machine being used, it is normal to use only 1 – 2 ounces of metalworking fluid during an entire 8-hour shift with our custom designed and calibrated MQL system. When we compare that to the gallons of fluids needed during the same period of manufacturing time for flood coolants, we can see a substantial savings on lubricant costs. Because of the high quality of our organically formulated lubricants, they will have a higher price tag when compared ounce for ounce. However, because we use only a fraction of the amount needed during the machining process compared to its’ counterpart… micro-lubrication is the less expensive option.
But coolant costs are not the only place savings occur. Over time, if we calculate the hours of cleanup time required by the workers in a flood coolant application, there is a substantial savings in labor cost alone with our MQL systems. Because like we’ve already discussed… there is virtually no cleanup required with these systems. When you start calculating the hours spent on cleanup over time, it can be quite substantial. The bigger the manufacturing facility, the more these saved hours of labor cost begin to add up. The difference between spending only seconds to sweep or vacuum the dry cutting chips with MQL compared to the hours required to cleanup flood coolant waste is staggering if you consider an entire year of manufacturing in your facility.
It doesn’t stop there. Because our premium quality organic oils provide superior lubrication properties, all the machines, blades, bits, etc. being used in the cutting process have a minimal amount of heat produced during the cutting process, which means they will last much longer. Heat is the biggest factor why your machines and tools wear out, so reducing… or virtually eliminating heat in the cutting process will prolong tool life. That just makes common sense, and we’ve seen first hand how it has positively affected our customer’s bottom dollar.
5 – Going Green Eliminates Potential Health Risks for Your Workers
So far, we’ve discussed numerous benefits of using Maglube MQL systems. When considering these benefits, it’s obvious that micro lubrication can potentially be a game changer for any manufacturing facility. Not only is it a much more ecologically friendly solution, but the bottom line is it flat saves money. Isn’t that what we’re all in this industry for… to make a profit?
Saving the environment and making more money are powerful benefits of converting to micro-lubrication in your company. But this last reason is without a doubt, the most important reason when considering a conversion.
MQL eliminates potential health concerns your workers are facing every day by being exposed to the petroleum-based chemicals contained in most flood coolant fluids. It will transform a manufacturing facility from a foggy, toxic mist filled shop into a clean and lean production line that has the appearance of an FDA – SQF Level 3 production facility. It only makes common sense that a cleaner working environment produces better quality products and does it more efficiently.
Eliminating flood coolants in manufacturing by converting to Maglube near dry systems will provide workers a better, cleaner and more worker friendly environment. Worker’s time will be spent on actual manufacturing, not cleaning and avoiding work place accidents due to unsafe conditions.
By transforming your facility into a cleaner and greener workplace, you can eliminate the potential health risks associated with traditional flood coolant methods.
Final MQL Thoughts
When considering all the benefits associated with micro-lubrication systems, we hope we’ve presented evidence in this article that inspires you to at least explore the possibilities of switching over to MQL.
We realize many of you are satisfied with the systems you already have in place. But we feel strongly that if you’ll take a deeper look and investigate what Maglube can do for your facility, you’ll realize that our products and systems offer compelling reasons why you should convert from flood coolants, to Maglube’s MQL Systems.
At Maglube, we provide environmentally friendly – biodegradable lubricants and systems for 21st century machining. Contact us today – Toll Free (800) 441-2023