Metalworking lubricants, coolants and fluids are specialized coatings and carriers for metal forming, metal cutting, lapping, polishing, and grinding applications. Metal forming oils, greases and fluids are designed to enhance lubrication during extrusion, wire drawing, stamping, bending, swaging, rolling, embossing, and other deformation processes. Metal cutting fluids are used in metal machining for improving tool life (reducing wear), increasing lubrication, reducing workpiece thermal deformation, improving surface finish and flushing away chips from the cutting zone. In lapping or polishing compounds, fluids or oils are used to carry abrasive powders. In grinding applications, the main function of metal working lubricants, coolants and fluids is to perform workpiece cooling. These products are also used to prevent rust and corrosion, and to serve as release agents that prevent materials from sticking or adhering to an underlying surface.

There are three basic types of metalworking lubricants, coolants and fluids: fluids, greases, and solid lubricants or dry film. Fluids are a broad category of products that includes lubricants, coolants, metalworking fluids, refrigerants, dielectric greases, transformer oils, base oils, and fuel or oil additives. Greases, gels and lubricating pastes are thick, high viscosity products that do not run or flow off surfaces. Greases often consist of oil thickened with a sodium or calcium soap complex or non-soap thickener. Solid lubricants or dry film lubricants are compounds such as hexagonal flake graphite, boron nitride (BN), molybdenum disulfide, or polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) powders designed to reduce friction, binding or wear; exclude water; or provide other specialized characteristics. 

Metalworking lubricants, coolants and fluids vary widely in terms of chemical composition. Some products contain petroleum or mineral oils, glycol or polyglycol, ester or diester, or silicone-based fluids with outstanding thermal and dielectric properties. Other products contain high water content fluids (HWCF); natural oils; soap, lithium, and aluminum complexes; or waxes such as paraffin and stearate. Industrial lubricants that are based on halogenated hydrocarbons include chlorofluorcarbon (CFC), halogenated fluorocarbon (HFC), halogenated chlorofluorocarbon (HCFC), and perfluorocarbon (PFC). Fluoropolymer-based solid lubricants include polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and are available in various forms. Synthetic fluids do not contain a petroleum or mineral oil base, but provide exceptional fire resistance and cooling performance. The characteristics, cost and heat transfer performance of semi-synthetic fluids fall between those of synthetic and soluble oil fluids.

Important properties for metalworking lubricants, coolants and fluids include concentration, flash point, autogenous ignition (AIT), and special features. Concentration is measured after dilution of the fluid solution on a volumetric basis.  Flash point is the lowest temperature at which a liquid can give off sufficient vapors to form an ignitable mixture in air near the surface of the liquid. Autogenous ignition (AIT) is the temperature at which ignition occurs spontaneously. Some metal working lubricants, coolants, and fluids are fire resistant, biodegradable, low foaming, or oxidation inhibiting. Other metalworking lubricants, coolants and fluids are designed specifically for automotive, transportation, aerospace, or military applications. 

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