Choosing a Metal-Forming Lubricant

Noria Corporation
Tags: industrial lubricants

"I recently came across an oil called ISOFORM 900 in the metal-forming process. Can you describe its physical properties and its equivalent use?"

ISOFORM 900 is a product from Petrofer that is designed for cold-forming fluids, specifically those of steel, stainless steel, aluminum, titanium and copper-based alloys.

Metal-forming processes have been around for thousands of years. Today's varieties in the metal-forming industries include complex processes such as sheet metal-stamping, wire-drawing, hydroforming, rolling and hot- or cold-forming. These processes often have high pressures between acting surfaces and in many applications high temperatures as well.

Within each of these processes, several techniques are employed using specialized tools, precise dies and specifically formulated fluids (or lubricants) all working together to create the end product. Metal-forming processes utilize some of the widest varieties of lubricants due to the varying characteristics of metal-working applications.

The key functions of metal-forming lubricants include lubricity, cooling, scrap-metal removal and protection against corrosion. The overall goal is to ensure that tools, dies and other metal-forming components will work to produce as much of the end-product parts with a minimum amount of maintenance due to degradation from excessive heat, wear and corrosion.

When considering what type of fluid to use, you must take all of these factors into account along with the application method in regards to timing and location. Proper lubricant selection should also be based on certain parameters such as the metal being formed, the application or process method, the quality of water (such as in water-based fluids), requirements of the worked metal before and after the process, as well as customer preferences.

Metal-forming fluids generally are categorized into four main types: water-based, oil-based, synthetic or semisynthetic, and solid (dry) film.

Water-based or soluble oils contain emulsions or micro-emulsions. They offer great cooling characteristics but lack lubricity. These lubricants are ideal for high-speed applications and can be sold in concentrates.

Oil-based lubricants provide great lubricity characteristics and long service life but sometimes lack additive solubility.

Synthetic and semisynthetic lubricants are designed to deliver very high cooling capabilities. Synthetics can be emulsified with water (sometimes known as neo-synthetics) to offer better lubricity.

Solid (or dry) film lubrication is the use of solid materials (such as graphite) in conjunction with or without oil or water. The best applications are in extreme conditions such as low shaft speeds, high and low temperatures, and high pressures. 

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