A new report on micromilling 316L stainless steel reveals that using minimum quantity lubrication (MQL) can significantly reduce tool wear and extend tool life by as much as 100 times compared to dry milling, Modern Machine Shop (MMS) reports.
MQL is the process of applying a controlled quantity of lubricant directly to a toolpiece during operation, as opposed standard flood methods that pump large quantities of coolant over a milling tool. In MQL, the coolant or lubrication is quantity controlled and delivered by means of an aerosol spray, resulting in less wasted liquid. MMS presents a comprehensive overview of the process here.
The study, Micromilling in Minimum Quantity Lubrication, notes that cutting fluids are designed for a variety of uses: cooling chips and residual metal, improving workpiece surface finish, reducing adhesion between the tool/workpiece interface and balancing heat distribution. However, the report also shows that the consumption of these liquids can be environmentally dangerous, as chemicals must be strictly controlled by government agencies.
Standard lubricant and coolant application in tooling operations can be wasteful, with the United States consuming 100 million gallons of metalworking fluids annually, while machinists are not seeing the quality of their investment and use. The use of precise MQL techniques can greatly reduce the amount of fluid used and improve tool quality and life at the same time, the study argues.
To purchase the full report, please go here.