A great number of industrial processes such as grinding, milling and turning create heat and particles. Machine coolants are used to keep the work surface cool and to carry away chips and particles.
The continuous monitoring of coolants is essential to ensure that their performance and quality are maintained. Effective monitoring can help to increase machine and fluid life, while improving manufacturing efficiency and maximizing profitability as well as improving safety. However, monitoring the condition of your fluids needn’t be complicated or expensive.
Typically machines and grinders are flood cooled which means that water is flooded over the work area. This cools the work and washes particles out of the way. The liquid is typically 90 to 95% water and 5 to 10% machine coolant. The liquid runs over the work area and then down the machine where it collects in a sump at the bottom of the machine. The liquid is pumped out of the sump and constantly recirculated. As the work is done, the tool material and pieces of the, metal or composite or other material being machined collect in the sump.
If the machine coolant is recirculated these fine particles are pumped up to the spray head and sprayed onto the work area. Some of the particles are thrown into the air where they can be inhaled. Other particles are reground into even finer particles. These recirculated chunks will cause rougher grinds and will increase the chance of burning during grinding.
The whole area of machine coolant management is generally poorly understood. It is estimated that somewhere between $100,000,000 and $500,000,000 worth of machine value is lost each year due to improper machine coolant management. Improper machine coolant management can shorten the serviceable time between rebuild and / or replacement by as much as 10% a year. As the need for precision gets ever greater, the need to keep machine coolant cleaner is more important than ever. When 0.001″ was a tight specification machine coolant filtered to ten microns was allowable. Now that specs are increasingly closer to 0.0001″ machine coolant needs to be maintained to below one micron. Yet a great many shops consider a system that filters to ten microns to be state of the art.