Improving Tool Life with Minimum Quantity Lubrication
If you knew of a way that you could significantly improve tool life, decrease the wear and tear on your machine, clean up your plant, and “go green” all at the same time, would you do it? Do you think your competition might? Doug Watts, Chief Technical Officer of MAG Americas, asked this question. Actually, in a recent piece for AMT News, he states it more bluntly: he asks if, in the long term, American manufacturers can really afford to not move to Minimum Quantity Lubrication (MQL), a technology that is environmentally responsible and reduces manufacturing costs. There is no such thing as a free lunch, but a committed well planned move toward MQL can help your operation clean up – both literally and financially. What is MQL? Minimum Quantity Lubrication—the process of applying a minute amount of a quality lubricant directly into the cutting tool-work piece interface—is effective in a wide variety of metal cutting processes, including sawing, turning, milling, drilling, and tapping. Manufacturers using MQL have seen tremendous advantages. According to one study, Ford saw a 13% decrease in overall costs after the implementation of MQL. This decrease in costs was due to better cutting tool life, a significant fluid reduction, reduced costs of coolant handling, decreased maintenance, and an increase in machine uptime. This article will highlight three critical elements necessary for successful implementation of MQL and then focus specifically on the positive effects MQL can have on tool life and performance.