Cutting fluid has undergone a significant evolution over the past hundred years. From the beginning of metalworking, blacksmiths used water until they discovered animal fats and plant oils provided better lubricity. In fact, lard was still a common cutting fluid as late as the 1920s.
Later, chemists found emulsifiers that could mix oils and waters and provide better cooling and lubricity simultaneously. This became critical to supporting the astronomical increase in manufacturing demand caused by both World Wars. Advancements proved to be the only way that metalworkers could meet production schedules and order volumes. In the post-war economy, manufacturers continued to invest in improving cutting fluid formulas, and Master Fluid Solutions was founded by Clyde Sluhan in 1951 to drive innovation in metalworking fluids and manufacturing.
For the past century, advancements in cutting fluid have been tied directly to advancements in metalworking. In the 2000s, processes are evolving with new technologies such as automation, and additive manufacturing, as well as a greater focus on sustainability and reducing environmental impact.
The Future of Metalworking
Signs of manufacturing’s future are already here, causing many in the industry to re-examine their areas of investment. Here are some of the biggest trends affecting the industry, and the role that cutting fluid plays with them, both now and in the future:
The Rise of Additive Manufacturing
What it Is: 3D printing and other forms of additive manufacturing have significantly improved since the 1990s, able to produce increasingly advanced parts at faster speeds. Engineers have created metal and alloy composites that have the potential to be stronger and lighter with better properties than standard materials. Additive manufacturing is rapidly advancing in both capability and speed and industry groups such as America Makes are at the forefront of this industry.
The Role of Cutting Fluid: Additive manufacturers often use post-processing techniques, such as subtractive manufacturing, to fully finish parts. For that, they will need cutting fluids like TRIM® HyperSol™ 888NXT and MicroSol® 692XT and TRIM® C390.
Automated Metalworking and Industry 4.0
What it Is: We’re currently in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution, where manufacturing will become increasingly automated and data driven thanks to advancements in robotics, AI, and the internet-of-things. We are rapidly approaching the era where manufacturing processes can be completed from start to finish with minimal need for human input.
The Role of Cutting Fluid: In an automated environment, high-performance cutting fluid that helps machines fully maximize their throughput will further improve profit margins and prevent waste. It’s also important that it’s formulated for a long sump life and easy to maintain to minimize change outs and machine downtime to enable lights-out production.
Advanced Safety — for Workers and the Environment
What it Is: Industry 4.0 will dramatically minimize environmental impact, as well as improve worker safety. Data-driven manufacturing will help companies maximize the way they use materials to reduce waste. Automated machinery also minimizes worker injuries as safety systems also improve. More advanced sensors and collaborative robots can quickly shut machines off to prevent accidents if danger is detected.
The Role of Cutting Fluid: Biobased cutting fluids like HyperSol™ 888NXT use renewable, plant-based ingredients in their formulas to minimize carbon emissions and the impact of resource consumption for more sustainable manufacturing. Often outperforming conventional fluids, these eco-friendly, biobased coolants will help manufacturers achieve sustainable production.
The Future of Cutting Fluid Is Bright
The nature of metalworking is changing rapidly, and we have only seen a glimpse of what the future holds for the industry. As technology continues to improve, so does the ability for metalworking fluid companies to create cutting fluids that provide better lubricity and cooling at the point of cut, while conforming to the demands and challenges of the time and lowering environmental impact.