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Choosing The Best Cutting Fluid: Types and Tips You Need To Know

Choosing The Best Cutting Fluid: Types and Tips You Need To Know

Oct 30th 2019

Cutting fluids are an important part of any industry that utilizes machinery or metalworking. While they can come in many varieties, cutting fluids are crucial industrial supplies that should be carefully considered before purchase.

What Are Cutting Fluids?

Sometimes referred to incorrectly as coolants, cutting fluids are responsible for reducing friction (and thus, heat) during metalwork or machinery use. Nearly 97% of the energy generated during metal cutting is turned into heat that could detrimentally affect both the tools and the metal if not properly mitigated. This is where metalworking and cutting fluids come into play most often.

By utilizing cutting fluids and preventing heat, tool and machine life can be extended. The best way to apply cutting fluid depends on a couple of factors:

  • The type of metal cutting being done

  • The type of material being used

  • The speed of the machine

All of these factors will be important to consider when deciding which type of cutting fluid is right for you. However, to make it a bit easier, lubricant distributors typically divide fluids into three categories depending on the material. These categories consist of:

  1. Stainless steel, titanium, and high temperature alloys

  2. Carbon and tool steels

  3. Aluminium, cast irons, and non-ferrous materials

Classifications of Cutting Fluid

Depending on how the application will be specifically conducted, one of these three types of cutting fluid can be used.

Semi-Synthetics: This type of cutting fluid is used for its corrosion resistance, lubrication, and tolerance against contamination. This type can work with both non-ferrous and ferrous materials.

Synthetics: This type is oil-free and consists of polymers and other inorganic and organic materials mixed with water. Due to the fact that they lack oil, shelf life is exceptionally longer when compared to other options. Synthetic cutting fluid is clean to run and can be used with high-speed machines and ferrous material. The only considerable drawback is that there can be some buildup or staining if used on non-ferrous materials.

Solubles: This type of oil contains emulsifiers that allow it to disperse when in contact with water. It can be used to provide lubrication to many applications and is preferred for non-ferrous materials.

A special fourth class should also be mentioned, as it contains specialty fluids and those that contain additives that are designed for specific uses. This category can include lubricity enhancers, cleaners, fingerprint neutralizers, corrosion resistance, and chip protection agents.


Regardless of which type of fluid you use, storage is something that should be carefully considered. General rules include:

  • Fluid should also be stored in drums and placed out of both sunlight and freezing conditions

  • Proper ventilation should always exist in the storage area

  • Oxidizing agents should never be stored in the same location as cutting fluids

For specific storage rules, always speak with your distributor to ensure the specific oil you’re using lasts as long as possible.

Cutting fluids are an important part of many industries, and selecting the correct type is crucial to maintaining equipment and machinery. In fact, it’s reported that 70% of all unplanned equipment shutdowns that have occurred over the last three years have occurred due to inadequate or improper lubrication. If the type of cutting fluid you’re currently using isn’t up to par, reach out to your supplier and discuss what improvements could be made.