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Selection Of Common Lathe Cutting Fluid


The process of machining involves the removal of material from a workpiece using a cutting tool. During this process, a considerable amount of heat is generated due to friction, which can lead to premature tool wear and poor surface finish.

To combat these issues, cutting fluids are used in machining operations, including lathe turning. Cutting fluids aid in cooling the cutting tool, reducing friction, and flushing away chips and debris. In this article, we will explore the selection of common lathe cutting fluids, considering various factors that can influence the choice and highlighting the importance of proper fluid selection for improved performance and tool life.

Importance of Cutting Fluids in Lathe Turning


Lathe turning is a fundamental metalworking operation used to produce cylindrical components with high precision. During the turning process, the cutting tool comes into direct contact with the workpiece, generating heat due to the deformation of metal. Cutting fluids play a crucial role in this process for the following reasons:

  • Heat Dissipation: Cutting fluids absorb and dissipate the heat generated during machining, preventing the cutting tool from overheating and prolonging tool life.
  • Lubrication: The presence of cutting fluids between the cutting tool and the workpiece reduces friction, resulting in lower cutting forces and better surface finish.
  • Chip Evacuation: Cutting fluids flush away chips and swarf from the cutting zone, preventing chip buildup and potential tool breakage.
  • Corrosion Prevention: Many cutting fluids contain additives that protect both the cutting tool and workpiece from corrosion, extending their lifespan.

Types of Lathe Cutting Fluids


Various types of cutting fluids are available for lathe turning, each designed to suit specific machining operations and materials. The common types of cutting fluids include:

  • Straight Oils: Also known as cutting oils, straight oils are non-emulsifiable fluids that do not mix with water. They provide excellent lubrication and are suitable for low-speed applications and heavy cutting on ferrous materials. However, they can leave a sticky residue and may require additional cleaning.
  • Water-Soluble Oils: These cutting fluids, also called soluble oils, are mixtures of mineral oil and emulsifiers. When diluted with water, they form stable emulsions. They offer good lubrication and cooling properties and are versatile for use with various materials. They are also easier to clean compared to straight oils.
  • Synthetic Fluids: Synthetic cutting fluids are chemical formulations that provide excellent cooling and lubrication properties. They are often used for high-speed machining and are suitable for both ferrous and non-ferrous materials. Synthetic fluids are less likely to cause skin irritation and have better stability than emulsions.
  • Semi-Synthetic Fluids: These cutting fluids are a blend of synthetic and mineral oil components. They offer a balance between the advantages of synthetic and water-soluble oils, providing good cooling and lubrication properties while being more economical.

Factors Influencing Cutting Fluid Selection


Choosing the most appropriate cutting fluid for a lathe turning operation involves considering various factors, including:

  • Workpiece Material: The type of material being machined is a significant factor in fluid selection. Some materials, such as aluminum, stainless steel, and cast iron, may require specific cutting fluids to optimize performance and tool life.
  • Cutting Operation: Different machining operations, such as roughing, finishing, and threading, have varying requirements for cooling and lubrication. The cutting fluid’s viscosity, additives, and lubricity must align with the specific operation.
  • Cutting Speed and Feed Rate: The cutting speed and feed rate influence the amount of heat generated during machining. Higher cutting speeds may require cutting fluids with better cooling properties.
  • Machine and Tooling: The type and condition of the lathe, as well as the cutting tool material and geometry, can impact the effectiveness of the cutting fluid. Proper fluid selection can help optimize the performance of the overall machining system.
  • Environmental Considerations: Some cutting fluids may contain hazardous components. Considering environmental factors, such as worker safety and disposal regulations, is essential when selecting cutting fluids.

Performance Evaluation of Cutting Fluids


Evaluating the performance of cutting fluids is crucial to ensure the chosen fluid meets the machining requirements. Several performance parameters are used to assess cutting fluid effectiveness:

  • Tool Life: Cutting fluid performance can be measured by the tool’s life. Longer tool life indicates better lubrication and heat dissipation.
  • Surface Finish: The quality of the machined surface is an essential aspect of the machining process. A cutting fluid that provides effective lubrication and cooling can lead to improved surface finish.
  • Chip Control: Efficient chip evacuation prevents chip tool interactions and contributes to the overall machining process’s stability and reliability.
  • Fluid Longevity: The stability and durability of the cutting fluid impact its maintenance frequency and cost-effectiveness.
  • Environmental Impact: Considering the environmental impact of cutting fluids is crucial for adhering to sustainability and safety standards.

Additional Considerations and Best Practices


  • Health and Safety: Operators should be aware of potential health hazards associated with cutting fluids, such as skin irritation or inhalation of mist. Adequate safety measures, such as personal protective equipment (PPE), should be implemented.
  • Fluid Management: Proper fluid management, including regular monitoring, filtration, and concentration control, is essential to maintain cutting fluid performance and longevity.
  • Compatibility: Ensuring compatibility between the cutting fluid and the machine’s materials, seals, and paints prevents potential damage and improves overall performance.
  • New Technological Advancements: Staying updated with cutting fluid technology advancements can lead to improved machining efficiency and performance.

The cutting fluid should be selected according to the specific conditions of workpiece material, tool material, processing content and process requirements.

According To The Workpiece Material Selection

  • For rough machining of steel parts, generally use low-concentration emulsion, and when finishing, use mineral oil or extreme pressure cutting oil.
  • When roughing gray cast iron and other brittle metals, due to the low tensile strength of the material and the small plastic deformation, when the tool cuts, it is squeezed into chipping chips on the sliding surface, and the contact friction with the front of the tool The force is very small, and the cutting temperature in the front is relatively low. Therefore, ordinary lathes generally do not use cutting fluid. When finishing, in order to reduce the surface roughness value and cutting heat of the workpiece, kerosene or 5%~10% high concentration emulsion can be used.
  • When roughing non-ferrous metals such as copper or aluminum and their alloys, generally do not add cutting fluid. When the ordinary lathe is finished turning, the aluminum can be filled with an appropriate amount of kerosene, and the copper can be filled with 7% N10% emulsion.
  • When cutting magnesium alloys, it is strictly forbidden to use cutting fluid to prevent burning and fire.

Select According To The Processing Content

  • During rough machining, due to the large amount of cutting, more cutting heat is generated, the temperature of the cutting area is higher, and the tool wear is larger. At this time, a cooling-based cutting fluid should be used to reduce the cutting temperature.
  • When finishing, the precision and surface quality of the workpiece are required to be high, and mineral oil or extreme pressure cutting oil mainly for lubrication should be selected.
  • When processing precision tools and measuring tools such as taps, wrench teeth, thread plug gauges or thread ring gauges, ordinary lathes should use vegetable oil or vulcanized oil that has been diluted and added with active agents due to the high strength and precision requirements of the material.

“During deep hole machining, the tool is working in a semi-closed state, which makes chip removal difficult, easily causes chips to wrap around and gather, affect the normal operation of cutting, and may damage the cutting edge and the surface of the workpiece. At this time, a lower viscosity should be used. The extreme pressure cutting oil is injected with sufficient pressure and flow, and the blasting force will flush out the chips in time.

Select According To The Tool Material

  • High-speed steel tool. Select according to workpiece material and processing content.
  • Carbide cutting tools. Ordinary lathe cemented carbide is made of carbides with high hardness and melting point and bonding metals such as cobalt and molybdenum, which are pressed and sintered by powder metallurgy, and have high thermal hardness, so cutting fluid is generally not added. Ordinary lathes should use cooling-based cutting fluids when processing some materials with high hardness, high strength and poor thermal conductivity. Ordinary lathes must be poured continuously from the beginning to avoid sudden cooling of cemented carbide inserts. produce brittle cracks.

The selection of the right cutting fluid is a critical aspect of lathe turning, impacting tool life, surface finish, and overall machining efficiency. The choice of cutting fluid depends on various factors, including workpiece material, cutting operation, cutting speed, and machine conditions. Evaluating cutting fluid performance through tool life, surface finish, chip control, and environmental considerations helps in making an informed decision. By adhering to best practices, operators can enhance their machining processes and achieve higher productivity and quality while ensuring worker safety and environmental responsibility.


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