For many machine shops, water is an essential part of the coolant mixture for more balanced lubricity and cooling capabilities. However, introducing water to your machining environment changes your maintenance requirements. If you aren’t on top of coolant quality, you risk allowing microorganisms into your cutting processes.
When you’re spending nearly 20% of your machining budget on coolant, you should make sure it isn’t ruining your final products. The first steps to coolant maintenance are understanding how coolants are contaminated and what effects these contaminants can have.
Quick Reminder: How Your Coolant Is Getting Dirty
We recently published a tip about keeping your coolant clean. Before dealing with the effects of contaminated coolant, let’s recap five of the most common ways your fluid is compromised:
- Water that is used for mixing is also used for diluting, creating a system of cross contamination.
- Poor maintenance and irregular cleaning allows precipitates and sludge to build up in the machine sump, compromising the coolant supply.
- Your cutting tools are dirty and if they come in contact with the fluid, coolant becomes contaminated.
- No one said machine shops were clean—operators introduce saliva, sweat and grime that can alter the coolant mixture.
- Aside from operator contaminants, other extraneous scraps can make their way into the coolant, such as food or human waste.
Depending on the type of coolant you use for your machining processes, maintenance can be fairly time consuming. It’s easy to fall into the trap of taking coolant for granted and trying to save time by prolonging coolant maintenance. This is a mistake to avoid.
The Effects of Poor Coolant Quality
When you allow coolant quality to degrade, your machining environment suffers. Be on the lookout for the following effects of poor coolant/fluid quality:
- Diminished surface quality due to microorganisms and contaminants in the coolant.
- Higher costs for maintenance as sludge and precipitates are continually left alone. With 59% of coolant costs coming from depreciation and waste disposal, extending coolant life should be a top priority.
- Decreased machining efficiency as cutting times increase (especially in environments with coolant-driven spindles).
- Shorter tool life due to faster corrosion.
- Residue left on machine tools can alter cutting processes and limit surface quality.
Clean Coolant Means Efficient Machining
Coolant can’t be forgotten in your machining process. If left unchecked, poor coolant quality can seriously diminish your throughput and, ultimately, your bottom line. Avoiding the damages of poor coolant quality is as simple as keeping your coolant clean. Be sure to follow manufacturer’s instructions for mixing and cleaning and regularly checking your coolant for possible contamination.
Have you had issues with poor coolant quality in the past? Leave a comment below and let us know what effects you’ve found when fluid becomes contaminated.