Minimum Quantity Lubrication v Flood
It's Day 1 at the 5th Metal Removals Conference. After the opening, I attended the first practitioner session titled "Minimum Quantity Lubrication vs. Traditional Flood Application - A Break-Through or Only for Niche Applications?" Presenter was Heinz Dwuletzki, PhD, and the head of R&D at Carl Bechem GmbH. The presentation was excellent and let me tell you, Dr. Dwuletzki knows his stuff. First, a brief history of MQL was provided, including definitions. A detailed study followed that outlined the critical pluses and minuses. The list was very inclusive of several non-obvious cost issues related to the use of MQL and was nicely reduced to emoticons. We are disappointed that we were unable to reproduce the chart for you here. Some take-away points are that MQL has advantages over the traditional "flood" coolant applications in the areas of coolant tank size, filtering (big advantage) real estate required, water usage and chip management. MQL has disadvantages over traditional "flood" lubrication in the areas of machine cost, emissions, compatible tooling, part and machine cleaning, and energy for air lubrication. The high cost of the air supply is a significant disadvantage. The Doctor predicts that both MQL and flood practices will continue in use of years to come, with a slow but steady growth in the use of MQL in mass production applications such as certain automotive operations. Automatic transmission valve assemblies was cited as a very successful application. In particular, VW claims to have replaced 3000 m3/yr of fluid with MQL. (This claim currently under investigation ). Use of MQL may involve years of planning. In particular, changes to machine centers can be costly and require significant engineering effort. So, MQL is more than turning down the flow rate on your coolant valve. Listening to this presentation has convinced me that I would engage the services of an experienced consultant for the evaluation of MQL before making any cost saving promises to management.