Why Dry Machining Might Be Worth the Time and Effort

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Processing Stainless Steel Do cutting fluids return dividends or not? A number of manufacturing plants debate on whether cutting fluid is a good idea; since they want to be sure, some don’t take the risk. Others, however, venture into the possibility.

They say dry machining plays a relevant role in the future. But is it for everyone?

The economics of using cutting fluids has faced drastic changes over the past two decades. During the early ‘80s, the purchase, management and disposal of cutting fluids accounted for at least 3% of the cost of most machining jobs.

Today, it’s a different story. From 3%, it now accounts for 16% of the average job’s overall cost. Cutting tools account for only 4% of the total cost, revealing a slightly shorter tool life.

When Dry Machining is Better

For Kenro, a provider of metal manufacturing solutions, one factor affecting the dry machining option is the workpiece. In some occasions, cutting fluid stains parts or even contaminates them. Manufacturers stay away from fluids, especially if there is a fear of contamination.

The piece’s suitability for the dry process depends on the type of material. Cutting fluids might be too excessive for cutting carbon, alloyed steel and cast iron. These materials should be easy to work with and also serve as good conductors of heat.

Dry machining stainless steel is a bit more challenging. Heat is a major factor in these materials; it doesn’t flow well and shortens tool life.

Tools Should Control Heat

The success of dry machining goes beyond coolant elimination — it’s a method focused on controlling heat.

Tools designed for dry machining are sharper and are better at cutting compared to their wet machining counterparts. As a result, they generate less friction, which controls heat. Apart from keeping the temperature low, sharper edges also improve surface finish and reduce turnout.

Manufacturers will always have the option between dry and wet cutting. Before they choose, however, it pays to determine the type of method that suits their machining processes.