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Comparing Oil and Coolant Applications in Machining for Mist Collection
Cutting and shaping metal through machining is an intense process that generates significant amounts of heat, creating implications for shops to perform these operations at scale. This is a well understood constraint on modern machining and there are strategies in place to deal with this. Given the amount of heat generated during the machining process, it’s very common to use oil lubricants or water-soluble coolants in your machining process to either reduce the heat generated or mitigate the impact of heat generated.
What Are The Benefits of Lubricants Versus Coolants?
For each operation, a shop will choose which fluids make the most sense given the type of machining, material type, past experience, etc. Each choice of coolant or lubricant will have different outcomes for your process, and for the safety and quality risks posed by mists in your shop when these fluids are used. Aeroex understands the range of fluids machining shops use and considers the properties of each when recommending a mist collector or industrial air purification solution. Here are a few things to consider:
Considerations for Oil Lubricants
Oils are relatively viscous fluids, meaning that the friction between their particles is greater than the surfaces they interact with. This is what makes oils “slippery”, making them an excellent lubricant for machining. By reducing friction between surfaces and workpieces, less heat is generated during machining. Note that if any heat is generated in spite of a lubricant, the oil will not reduce the heat. Lubricant can be applied during machining or with a coating layer on the tool itself.
Oil lubricants come in a range of viscosities ranging from low viscosity to high viscosity. The goal of each is the same – to reduce friction and heat generation during machining. A fluid that is too thick can make your machines work harder, leading to wear and tear because of undue effort. However, if the oil is too thin, it may not be sufficient enough to prevent friction and create lubrication. In any machine operation, a balancing act is needed to select the right lubricant for the job.
Perhaps most importantly, oil is a combustible and volatile fluid. If for some reason too much heat is generated and the flashpoint is reached, lubricants can ignite. So, any machining operation and oil collection solution needs to account for these fire prevention and safety considerations. Oil lubricants can also lead to smoke along with volatilized mist, meaning that your air purification system will need to be able to capture these particles.
Considerations for Coolants
Coolants are the second major category of fluids to use in machining that will help you manage potential heat generation and can keep your machines operating. There are a number of differences when compared to lubricants that add considerations for selecting machining fluids.
Coolants differ from oil lubricants in that they take heat away only after it is generated, rather than preventing it in the first place like oils would. While heat generation occurs, the coolants continually keep the cutting zone at a lower temperature. The main benefit of a coolant is that it does not risk ignition, which allows more opportunities to scale up your machining operations without risk of fire hazards or added resources for monitoring.
Some coolants are compromised of oil diluted with water, which can lead to corrosion depending on the material of your machine or the product. The diluted nature of these coolants means they have less lubricity than their synthetic counterparts, limiting their use to lighter applications. Water-based coolants also have odor problems caused by bacteria depending on how they are used and stored. There are also synthetic lubricants, which are popular for precision machining but risk generating smoke (another air quality concern).
Managing your Lubricants and Coolants With A Mist Collector
Your choice of lubricant versus coolant is likely to depend on your shop, the materials you are using, what operations you are running (e.g. drilling, milling, tapping, etc.), and how much heat is being generated. With each choice, it’s important to be aware of the dynamics of the fluids you are working with and how best to manage risks to your shop. Aeroex has been in the business of mist collection for more than twenty years and has studied the market to provide you with customized solutions that meet your performance expectations.
Aeroex Mist Collectors: Mist-Fit and ARO Series
The Mist-Fit is Aeroex’s most popular option for lubricants and coolants for a reason. Its compact and modular design means it’s ready for deployment in any shop, and it’s easily configurable – for example, if you are using lubricants or coolants at different phases of your operation. A three-stage progressive filtration system uses mechanical elements to catch most of the product before finishing with a depth-loading fiber bed filter with MERV 15 rating to capture the hard-to-get oil mists that can cause problems in your shop. Our Canadian engineers have included a number of design features that promote drainage, limit filter changes, and prevent clogging. Mist-Fit is a great value choice for day-to-day machining with coolants and light oil lubricants. If you are using synthetic oils, we may recommend an optional four-stage HEPA filter to capture the sub-micron smoke and vapor particles. There is also an optional odor control for issues mentioned earlier.
The ARO Series incorporates all of the design and quality of life features known and loved in the Mist-Fit. The ARO Series has added capacity for heavy machinery using thick oils that need near-constant runtimes without disruptions for filter changes, maintenance, or clogging. The ARO is the premium choice for the virtual elimination of smoke and mist at scale, delivering up to 4000 cfm and potentially accommodating multiple machines simultaneously.
Solutions for Oil and Coolant Applications
At Aeroex, we will not push “one-size fits all” solutions on you. We value the time and patience of learning your specific challenges and getting consensus on a solution that is best for your situation. Oils and coolants present different challenges for machine operations and shop management, and we will work to fit right in with the corresponding oil mist collector that is right for you. To help us understand your needs, contact Aeroex today.