CNC machining is quite common nowadays in manufacturing operations everywhere both for high production, high volume component manufacture as well as complicated small volume manufacturing where parts may have very complicated geometries and sophisticated features. During such manufacture using CNC machining processes, manufacturing engineers tend to pay very close attention to important aspects of part programming, tool choice and tool wear control, tool path control to avoid CNC tool crashes, the very important parameters of machining feeds and speeds, etc. And rightfully so, because every one of the parameters listed heretofore is very important to produce parts of the highest quality consistently.

Coolant control in CNC machining

But one parameter that is seldom given its due importance is coolant control in CNC machining operations. And it is fairly easy to overlook since generally coolant is not changed after every set of parts is manufactured. Additionally, manufacturing engineers tend to delegate coolant management to maintenance personnel. However, as you will notice in what follows, that proper coolant control is important not only for part quality, but it can also influence the bottom line cost of production.

One of the characteristics in quality control of machined components is the surface finish that is generated. Poor coolant quality results in low quality surface finish. This is because the heat generated in machining is not easily carried away from the machined part as well as from the machining tool. Spent coolant or coolant that has lost its potency to cool can thus cause havoc in part quality. Additionally, poor coolant quality can cause pre-mature wear of the machining inserts and they will have to be replaced more often in order maintain sharp edges during machining. Insert changes are costly both from the point of view of insert costs as well as machine down time during insert changes. Poor coolant quality can cause drills to break when drilling deep holes. Now this can become a real problem if it is a one piece quantity of an expensive part, because now the broken drill will have to be removed and then the operation resumed. This will add significantly to part costs.

Thus it is important to ensure that coolant quality is properly maintained to produce parts with acceptable levels of surface finish and to ensure longevity of tool life in order to reduce part costs.

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