The Growing Popularity of Neat Oils

The term “neat” describes a cutting oil that is not mixed with water. Neat oils have traditionally been used in low-temperature applications such as slow-speed machining, but are being used more and more in higher speed applications, edging out water-extendible fluids, for a variety of reasons:

• More difficult alloys are being used in many machining processes and machining processes are becoming more complex, both requiring better lubrication

• Water-extendible fluids require a unique waste disposal process since the water is typically contaminated with metals

• Use of tri-purpose fluids for machining, hydraulic/waylube and stock feed minimize inventory requirements

Other advantages to using neat oils in the machining process are higher tool speeds and stock feeds, longer drain intervals, consumption reduction and overall fluid-related cost reductions.

Traditional base fluids for industrial neat oils are napthenic and paraffinic petroleum fluids. A growing alternative to petroleum-based fluids are vegetable-based fluids and synthetic esters including canola, soybean, rapeseed, sunflower, palm and others. These fluids are not new, but are increasing in use due to airborne mist being safer than petroleum-based oils, availability, environmental impact and pricing coming more into line with traditional fluids.

The Future

As environmental concerns and their associated costs become a more prominent factor in the use of water-extendible fluids, we expect to see the use of neat oils, especially bio versions, increase. As we learn more about the use of these fluids and their associated additives their viability and desirability will increase.