Described as the UK's market leader in the design and manufacture of optimised rotary tooling solutions for the aerospace industry, Sheffield-based Technicut has expanded it premises and now boasts 21 ANCA tool grinding machines (024 7644 7000) and 12 Walter tool grinding machines, plus six Walter Heli-Check units (01926 485047).
Complementing its machine tools, the company has installed an advanced Vomat coolant filtration system from Oelheld UK (01745 814777).
Technicut's manufacturing director, Warwick Spearing, explains: "Technicut has achieved its position as the largest provider of rotary cutting tools to the UK aerospace industry not only through our many technical innovations, but also because of the consistent high quality of the products that we deliver. To ensure the continuity of our reputation, in addition to operating the best available machine tools, we make use of premium quality grinding wheels, grinding fluids and highly efficient filtration systems.
"As the recent expansion of our bank of Walter Tool Grinders created the need for additional coolant filtration capacity, we researched the available options. Although we were impressed with several of the alternatives offered by a number of filtration companies, the bespoke Vomat filtration system adhered to and, in many ways, exceeded our demanding requirements.
"Rather than serving one or two grinding machines, our newly installed, highly specified Vomat filtration system is able to efficiently filter the coolant from a bank of nine Walter Grinders. Despite the compact system's impressive capacity, it has a relatively small footprint. This economic use of valuable space had created room for a further productive machine tool.
"In addition to efficiently removing contaminates from our coolant and helping to ensure excellent levels of surface finish on our rotary cutting tools, our new Vomat system is now helping to extend the life of our coolant. Also, grinding wheel wear has been significantly reduced and we now spend a lot less time dressing our grinding wheels."
Able to filter particles of less than 3 micron, unlike some filter systems, the use of pre-coat powder is not required with Vomat products, as the use of filter aids is unnecessary. Very low maintenance and running costs, including air, filter media and electricity, are also guaranteed.
CHANGE GONNA COME
Elsewhere, at a British manufacturer of aircraft parts, a price increase imposed by incumbent fluid suppliers prompted the company to explore the market, with this resulting in the adoption of Master Chemical Europe fluids (01449 726800), a move that has streamlined methods, with the added bonus of a longer sump life.
With the success of the customer based on high quality products and service, it was clear from the start that any alternative metalworking fluids could not be allowed to compromise that. The existing fluids were doing a quality job, but their supply involved multiple vendors, and the manufacturer recognised that this was unwieldy, both from an inventory and a management point of view.
Master Chemical Europe was recommended by one of the company's aerospace customers and this introduction led to Master Chemical's TRIM E708 being trialled on Dugard machines (01273 732286) at the company's Midlands site (Dugard itself recommends Master Chemical coolants).
TRIM E708 is a high quality, universal soluble oil that requires minimal maintenance, even in the most demanding fluid management systems. It has broad application scope in machining and grinding on a wide range of materials, and demonstrates predictable performance. It will also run effectively for long periods, without the need for costly additives.
The customer's performance criteria for the TRIM E708 test were good corrosion protection, both for the machine and parts, good tool life, plus compatibility with several materials. Typical products manufactured by this aerospace company are kits of parts for landing gear and oxygen delivery, with materials including aluminium, Inconels, steels, titanium and alu-bronze processed. Low odour for greater operator acceptance was a further requirement.
TRIM E708 passed the initial test, but the next step was to explore Master Chemical's ability to provide a complete fluid package to meet the company's overall needs.
In addition to TRIM E708 for general machining applications, TRIM C115 was recommended for dedicated grinding. A high performance synthetic fluid, it is primarily for cast iron and mild steels. Properties include excellent coolant and chip setting, good tramp oil rejection and machine cleanliness, while a protective film is left on the machine.
In addition, TRIM OG223 – a medium to heavy duty neat oil – was proposed for selected turning applications. This is said to be particularly good in high pressure applications, where low oil mist is a benefit. In common with all the products selected for this total package, TRIM OG223 conforms to the latest Chip 3 and aerospace regulations, and therefore contains no chlorine or active sulphur additives.
The final fluid chosen was TRIM RPO 6 rust preventative oil, a non-staining, water displacing thin film for a variety of materials, providing excellent protection for parts during the production process and in transit.
Completing the package was a commitment to monthly site visits to carry out coolant condition checks, report findings and make any recommendations. What was proposed was a complete production partnership, underpinned by Master Chemical's technical support. And this part of the agreement proved central to Master Chemical securing the business.
A further benefit to the customer is Master Chemical's local – Needham Market, Suffolk – location, which gives the customer instant access to experts who are able to re-formulate fluids, in line with changing production needs. The Needham Market location houses sophisticated laboratories and testing facilities, plus a team of research chemists whose role is to develop and continuously improve fluid formulations specifically for the needs of the European manufacturer.
Following the changeover, the aerospace manufacturer has confirmed that performance standards for tool life and surface finish have been met, but an unexpected bonus is a significant improvement in sump life, with this complemented by the simplification of fluid supply and management, a factor that continues to save time and costs.
Box item 2
Formaldehyde biocides get battered
Formaldehyde has been reclassified to 'a presumed human carcinogen (Category 1B)', following work undertaken by the Committee for Risk Assessment (RAC) of the European Chemical Agency (ECHA). Previously, it classified as a suspected human carcinogen (Category 2). ECHA
is the regulatory authority concerned with implementing REACH
Formaldehyde has been employed for many years in the creation of formaldehyde donor biocides that are used in water-miscible metalworking fluids (MWFs) to control bacteria growth. Importantly, formaldehyde does not exist as a free liquid in isolation in MWFs and so does not have to be declared on a product's Safety Data Sheet (SDS).
But this change of status does sound the death knell for biocides that employ formaldehyde, agrees Master Chemical's technical director, Peter Blenkinsop. Why, if it is not a freestanding constituent of MWFs?
In fact, there has been a progressive eroding of the number of formaldehyde donor biocides as the carrier chemicals have themselves come under scrutiny and control, he explains, but this latest move hits at the very heart of such biocides. "It is not the case that formaldehyde donor biocides are banned or no longer available; nor that they are classed as carcinogens in themselves, because they are not. The issue is that when you are exposed to a MWF containing formaldehyde donor biocide when you are working, studies have found that there is a certain amount of formaldehyde in the air around the machine tool."
According to the HSE, prior to the reclassification UK Occupational Exposure Limits (called Workplace Exposure Limits by HSE) are two parts per million (2 ppm), time weighted average over eight hours. The short-term limit (averaged over ten minutes) is also 2 ppm. Mr Blenkinsop says that he understands that studies by a biocide company are said to have revealed a figure of 75 parts per billion (ppb) of formaldehyde around a machine tool, although details of mixture concentration level are not given. No problem prior to reclassification, clearly, though.
But OELs will now be revised, Mr Blenkinsop explains, with new figures expected during next year. "The change is likely to be around a factor 10, let's say. So while you would never have got close to the OELs even in the worst situation – lots of mist, wrong concentration with too much formaldehyde donor biocide in it – with a factor of 10 reduction in OEL, you could get close."
In fact, the likely OEL levels according to "those in the know" are mooted as being between 100-400 parts per billion. As you can see, the lower limit is very close to the 75 ppb – too close to the lower limit, but, even if it is the upper limit, MWF users would likely have to institute a regime of monitoring of air quality, which would just be too much trouble, anyway. "It's easier for end users to say 'I don't want to have formaldehyde donor biocides'," Mr Blenkinsop, adds.
He continues: "We are being told by our suppliers that they don't expect to sell any formaldehyde donor biocides to the metalworking fluids market past 2016," he reveals – next year's OEL changes will have to filter through into EU and/or national regulations or legislation to call an official halt in demand for their use, of course.
But in 2015, all trace of formaldehyde will be removed from consumer products so, in terms of public perception, it's already a slippery slope for donors.
So what will this mean for MWFs? Today, Master Chemical's expert suggests that more than half of all water-miscible coolant employs a formaldehyde biocide to control bacteria. "Maybe it's more, but that 50% or so will have to be replaced by something else; Master Chemical has found that something else. We have found other ways to control bacteria growth without formaldehyde. Indeed, without either formaldehyde or boron – other people may have to employ boron at higher levels." But Holland and certain regions of Spain and Italy have already restricted the use of boron, Mr Blenkinsop notes. And boron, a corrosion inhibitor and biostatic agent, is now (via its precursor, boric acid) a 'substance of very high concern' (SVHC), according to REACH.
After a two-step regulatory process, SVHCs may be included in the REACH Authorisation List and become subject to authorisation. These substances cannot be placed on the market or used after a given date, unless an authorisation is granted for their specific use, or the use is exempted from authorisation.
"The focus for formulators is now to develop fluids that contain neither boron nor formaldehyde donors, but whose performance and cost are comparable. Formaldehyde reclassification is just another regulation that is pushing us in the direction in which we were going anyway," confirms Mr Blenkinsop.
One product in Master Chemical's arsenal that is proving a popular alternative is TRIM E950. It contains neither formaldehyde donor nor boron yet provides good bio-stability and competitive performance. This premium emulsion product is now used in aerospace, medical and motor sport industry, providing good tool life on difficult-to-machine aluminium alloys, Inconel, titanium, stainless and high tensile strength steels.
Others that are formaldehyde donor and boron-free are TRIM C272, a high performance synthetic cutting and grinding fluid, that has become the preferred choice of many manufacturers worldwide. It has Rolls-Royce CSS130 approval, for example. Also available is TRIM SC440, a low-foam semi-synthetic for machining and grinding cast iron and steel.
"Many more products are in the pipeline," confirms Mr Blenkinsop. "Master Chemical continues to be driven by the need to develop products that provide technical advantages and are also kind to humans and the environment." And, as he underlines, Master Chemical has laboratories and personnel to drive that; other companies do not, he stresses.
Box item 2
Product and industry news in brief
 Advanced Carbide Tooling's Advanced Micro Lubrication subsidiary has developed the MQL (minimum quantity lubrication), a smaller variant of ACT's MicroLube syste.
 Filtermist's CSX compact footprint portable oil mist extraction system is equipped with an integral cyclone separator, making it suitable for heavy duty applications, such as wet grinding.
 Quaker Chemical has launched a new website, reflecting the company's "inspirational, customer-centric approach".
 Metalworking fluid specialists Blaser Swisslube (available in the UK from Jemtech UK) has enhanced its R&D facility, based at its head office in Hasle-Rüegsau (Switzerland).
 Air Cleaning Systems (ACS) has moved from its previous Cardiff location to a larger facility in Pontyclun, near Llantrisant, South Wales.
 Master Chemical Europe's new free Product Guide focuses on the most popular products within its TRIM metalworking fluids' range.
First published in Machinery, June 2013