When most people talk about buying metalworking fluids they often describe it as ‘buying a drum’. In thinking this way they could be blind to the additional costs they are incurring, as it is the content… not the drum that is the key factor, the drum is purely the packaging!

The process of purchasing metal working fluids is no different from any other financial transaction, but when you are spending from £500 to over £2,000 for 200 litres of fluid you have to ask the question, what is the difference? As all metal working fluids have to come with detailed information on about their chemical make-up, health and safety information and general usage advice, it should be straightforward to discover why one brand costs more than another. However, this information is often ignored and the focus remains on the drum price, not the content. Alan Dalton Technical Director at Jemtech, the UK arm for Blaser Swisslube, explains the importance of understanding what you are buying and how that decision impacts on your business.

“Simply put it’s the ingredients, like everything else in life you get what you pay for, higher quality products are by and large manufactured from higher quality components,” and as Alan points out. “The reason higher quality constituents are necessary is to deliver significant productivity gains, this is what differentiates higher priced products from cheaper products, as it is what can be achieved with the cutting fluid that actually counts, not just its price. Most customers are now aware of the fact that you can dramatically reduce manufacturing costs by employing the latest and best cutting fluid technology to increase productivity and therefore profitability.”

Amongst all this information is a simple mathematical formula, the refractometer factor. On its own it doesn’t sound too exciting, but it is an important figure as it controls the volume of metalworking fluid concentrate that is needed to create the correct concentration in the machine sump.

The concentration of a metalworking fluid is measured by using a refractometer. The figure gained from the refractometer then has to be multiplied by the refractometer factor of the cutting fluid concentrate to get a true reading. So what does this mean to you as a customer? A typical metalworking fluid, let’s brand it ‘Anylube’ will have a refractometer factor of around 2:1, compared to 1:1 for Blaser Swisslube’s Blasocut product range.

Blasocut is a unique bio-concept formulation that has minimal water content, typically around 3%, so the actual oil content is extremely high, therefore the drum contents are more concentrated. Therefore like the old dishwashing advert it will go further and perform better than lower concentrated products. As an example, if we take a representative 200 litre drum of concentrate and a machine tool with a 1000 litre sump, then a metalworking fluid with a 2:1 refractometer factor would require 95 litres of concentrate to fill the first sump. Where with a 1:1 RF you would only need 80 litres.

Subsequent top ups using Anylube, based on a 3% reading on the refractometer, would require an actual additional 6 per cent of concentrate, or 6 litres for every 100 litres of mix. The typical top up for Blasocut products is 2 per cent and with a 1:1 refractometer factor this requires only 2 litres of concentrate for every 100 litre top up. If you are topping up at 100 litres per day of mixed coolant a 200 litre drum of Anylube’s concentrate would last 22 days, whereas the same size drum of Blasocut would last for 60 days. That equates to a usage of almost 200 per cent more using Anylube’s concentrate, or three drums for everyone of Blaser’s. Suddenly the lower price of Anylube’s product is not quite so tempting.

Furthermore, with up to 50 per cent water content in the Anylube product, the performance of the coolant is also affected. The fact that Blasocut has a minimal water content the surface quality of your machined parts will be improved and there will be minimal, if any staining of your machined components, overall surface finish will be improved and tool life will be increased. The easiest way to identify whether your current metal working fluid has a high water content is to look at the storage instructions on the drum. If it states that it must be stored above 0°C then it is safe to assume that it has high water content. Typically, Blasocut fluids can be stored as low as -40°C!

In brief

So when you are looking to order a drum of metalworking fluid, ignore the drum and think hard about its content. In doing this you will add significantly to your productivity and profitability. For a free, no obligation appraisal of your current metalworking fluid usage, please contact Jemtech (UK).