Industrial Lubricants – Some Common Questions

What are Industrial Fluids used for?

There are two main uses for fluids. As lubricants for industrial and cutting processes and as coolants. This is because some processes can cause damage to manufacturing equipment if temperatures are too high.

What are they made from?

The main substance of cutting or cooling fluids depends on the process that they are designed for. Materials are developed with custom specifications in mind, so the fluids themselves will vary depending on why they are produced for and by. There are three main categories. Straight Oils, Soluble Oils and Synthetic Fluids.

Why have these different types?

The easy answer is that each has its own strength. Straight oils are very effective lubricants for industrial processes. They don’t conduct heat as well as other fluids for example however, and so are not often used as coolants. Synthetic fluids are often diluted with water and are the best performing coolants. Soluble oils are a halfway house- oils which can be diluted using an emulsifier.

Why not just use water?

Water is in fact used in a number of fluids. Those diluted synthetic fluids that contain a high percentage of water are known in the industry as HWCF- high water content fluids. The real reason is that many oil based fluids are better lubricants due to their construction at a particle level. Many of the synthetic fluids contain other specially chosen chemical additives, which perform anti-rust functions which water alone could not perform.

Are there any dangers to using these fluids?

If the fluids are well researched and constructed then there ought not to be a risk. An important factor to consider in the development of fluids is the ‘Flash Point’. This is the temperature at which the fluids can begin to emit vapours. These are not only potentially harmful, but can also cause ignition which is naturally a risk.

Are there any lubricants that aren’t fluids?

Whilst some lubricants for industrial purposes aren’t fluids, the majority are. According to Shell around 3% of the lubricant market is grease rather than fluid based. Greases are much heavier and thicker. Whilst they have functions, they can’t be applied at the same rate as fluids which are applied I constant and high volume throughout a process. This constant passage of fluid over processes means that fluids carry more heat away and are thus far better suited to being coolants as well, as greases don’t carry heat away from points of contact.