The Basics of Metalworking and Cutting Fluids

The metalworking industry is very dynamic and has seen plenty of changes, especially in the recent 20 years. While the advent of metalworking was pretty messy, for lack of a better word, sophisticated machinery, Squickmons CNC burn tables, and state-of-the-art equipment has turned metalworking into a clean and very efficient process.

Industry giants attribute much of this progress in metalwork to cutting fluids, which have been of great help ever since factories started using them. This piece will highlight some of the basics of metalworking and cutting fluids. So, you’ll better understand the positive impact of these fluids on the metalworking field.

The Basics of Metalworking/Metal Cutting Fluids

Metalworking fluids have broad applications in dozens of factory operations. These fluids carry out four basic functions, namely cooling, corrosion control, lubrication, and chip removal. With so many operations going on in a factory, metalworking fluids have to play a very crucial role in ensuring all machines and equipment are in top shape.

Though the processes may be too complex for the scope of this piece, the processes accomplished by these can be broadly grouped into three operations.

  • Large chip operations- These operations are large scale, usually take a lot of power and also produce a lot of waste. The operations include sawing, drilling, hopping, tapping, and gunning.
  • Small chip operations- Small chip operations are smaller-scale operations usually done during the finishing stages of manufacturing. Grinding and abrasive finishing are great examples of small scale chip operations.
  • No chip operations- No chip operations have no residue. Metalforming is the major non-chip operation in most industries.

Types of Metalworking Fluids

Metalfluids come in very many compositions with equally many properties to satisfy factory standards for their myriads of applications. It’s worth noting that some fluids that work on some machines might be corrosive or destructive to others. In that regard, metalworking fluid manufacturers have gone all out to produce so many different chemical combinations to achieve different attributes for different applications. Cutting fluids can still, however, be classified into four main categories.

1. Straight Oils

Straight oils are mainly composed of oil with a few additives. Mineral oil makes up between 70-85% of straight oils, while additives make up the rest of the oil. There is no water in straight oils, and they can’t also mix with water. They are best for heavy operations to help minimize friction in slow processes where the machines cannot overheat.

2. Soluble Oils

Mineral oil takes up a huge percentage of soluble oil composition but not as much as straight oils. What’s more, the soluble oils are miscible with water, unlike straight oils. One thing they do have in common with straight oils, however, is that they have additives too. Mineral oil percentages may be as low as 65%. They carry out pretty much the same function as straight oils but come in concentrate and are later diluted for factory applications.

3. Semi-synthetics

Semi synthetics are largely composed of water, and this gives most of them a translucent color. These cutting fluids can be made up to 5-50% of mineral oil and also have a heap of additives added to them. Semi synthetics are incredibly versatile and have many different applications like metal-removal, as a detergent or in the wetting process. Factories buy semi-synthetic in concentrate batches that they later dilute for use.

4. Synthetic Solutions

These solutions don’t contain any mineral oil but have a lot of water. The water gives synthetic solutions their characteristic clear color. Additives in the form of chemicals also make up a huge percentage of synthetic solutions.

Synthetic solutions have excellent cooling attributes that make them excellent for high-speed processes that produce a lot of heat.


Hopefully, the piece gives you a basic but clear understanding of cutting fluids and their importance to industries and factories worldwide. Brayco and Castrol Products are few examples of metalworkfluids, but for the name to take credence, think of them in terms of wholesale oil.

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