To ensure proper performance of your metalworking fluids, several factors must be considered. In use, metalworking fluid systems are dynamic. Contamination can come from a number of sources, including tramp oils, dirt, metal fines, and hard water minerals. Tramp oils can cause issues with bacterial growth, residues and product stability. Dirt and metal fines create a haven for microbiological activity. Build-up of hard water minerals and chlorides can cause deposits, corrosion and stability issues.
With all these potential challenges to metalworking fluids, problems can occur. Understanding how to correct or compensate for these changes will help maximize performance and extend the life of the coolant. Common problems which must be addressed include:
- Poor tool life
- Rust and corrosion
- Rancidity or objectionable odors
- Dirt accumulation
- Skin irritation
- Poor surface finish on parts
- Low tool or grinding wheel life
The first step in troubleshooting metalworking fluid problems is to understand the situation. Obtain all pertinent information directly from the people reporting the problem. This should include machine operators, maintenance personnel and supervisors and observe how the problem impacts their specific operation. Machine operators and maintenance personnel often are sensitive to changes in metalworking fluid conditions and can provide critical insight into their operation. Depending on the nature of the complaint, a sample should be collected and analyzed for the following:
- Product Concentration (should be done on site)
- pH and conductivity
- Bacterial or fungal growth
- Tramp oil level
- Dissolved minerals or other contaminants
Many problems can be eliminated by adjustments to product concentration or improved maintenance practices. Condition monitoring of the fluid provides critical insight into the health of the system. Regular testing and monitoring, along with proactive maintenance will ensure consistent product performance.
To help streamline your troubleshooting capabilities, we have provided this MWF Troubleshooting Checklist which we hope you will find helpful in solving the more common problems.