Are Cutting Fluids Really Necessary for Machining?

by | May 12, 2017 | Machinery and Equipment

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For many shops today, cutting fluids are a necessary evil. They don’t want to use them, but they also don’t want issues with overheating or chip removal, especially with aluminum or stainless steel machining. However, many shops are experimenting with dry machining and finding success. In fact, you may want to try this, and here is more information on the subject.

The Cost of Coolants

Cutting fluids can add a great deal to your shop operating costs, and they can make up fifteen percent or more of your total costs. Not only that, coolant management is time-consuming and costly. Many shops have to pay for used coolant disposal. If you decide to recycle your coolant, you need an effective separation and filtering system, and this adds to your shop costs. If you can limit coolant usage, your shop efficiency increases.

Tool Life

Many shop managers don’t realize that coolant use can add to problems like tool breakage. This is especially true with tools like carbide coated, PCD, and CBN tools, commonly used for stainless steel machining. How can coolants cause tool breakage? During machining, most of the coolant doesn’t reach the cutting surface so the surrounding area cools faster and you have a large temperature variance (and tool breakage is more likely).


Coolants can contaminate some stainless steel machining methods. For example, medical devices need cleanliness. This is very important for implant materials.

Aluminum and Stainless Steel Machining

Many aluminum alloys machine without coolants with good results. Stainless steel is a little harder and in most cases, using lubricants gives the best results.

How Can You Tell?

The best way to find out which materials are best for dry machining is to experiment. Use scrap materials and make a note of the results. You could discover a cost-effective solution for your shop, and you have little to lose in the process.

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