Lubrication In Metalworking And Metalworking Lubricants

Metalworking is a very common practice in engineering and manufacturing. There are various types of metalworking processes in the engineering world. And lots of kinds of products are produced. Because of that, lubrication in these metalworking processes is a very important business. 

Here we explain why the metalworking processes require lubrication and the general characteristics of metalworking lubricants. 

Why Lubrication Is Required In Metalworking Processes?

The general purpose of lubrication is because of the unwanted friction between parts or machinery components. The same reason is valid for the metalworking processes. But if we state the more specific reasons of lubrication in metalworking processes; 

  • The friction between tooling and the part that is worked can lead to the distortion of the tool which will lead to the problem of low dimensional accuracies of produced parts. Also, tool wear adds additional cost to the complete metalworking process.
  • The flow characteristics of metal that is being worked must be in intended form. If there are unwanted frictions between the metal and tooling, the flow pattern of metal can be distorted and it will affect the product quality. 
  • Friction means additional forces and power. Force and power requirements will be increased because of the unwanted friction between tooling and metal. 

The Friction Between Tooling And Workpiece

Lubricant application in a hot metalworking(Image

As we stated above, lubrication is generally required in most mechanical applications such as shafts, bushings, bearings, etc. But the friction between mechanical parts is very low compared with this friction between tooling and workpiece in metalworking. Also, temperatures are very high and forces and power are very high. These characteristics lead to very high frictions, which require special treatment. 

The most important problem in metalworking processes due to the friction is sticking. Sticking occurs between tool and metal workpiece because the friction force and shear stress due to this friction force exceeds the flow stress of the material. This means, deformation on the metal part instead of sliding of the tool.

Metalworking Lubricants

As you understand that the problems due to the friction between toolings and workpieces are very important. Metalworking lubricants are used because of these reasons. Metalworking lubricants relieve the very bad effects of these frictions between tooling and metal contact surfaces. 

Which Materials Are Used As Metalworking Lubricants?

In general, hot working operations are applied dry. But sometimes, lubricants are used in hot metalworking operations. Graphite, glass, and special mineral oils are used in hot metalworking lubrication.

In cold working operations, mineral oils, fat, soaps are used as lubrication material. 

How To Select A Proper Metalworking Lubricant?

There some considerations for the selection of proper metalworking lubricant; 

  • The most important consideration in the selection of a metalworking lubricant is the type of process. Proper metalworking lubricants can be suggested by the manufacturers for different kinds of metalworking processes. 
  • The material of the workpiece is another important consideration. You need to know the physical and chemical characteristics of the workpiece material. 
  • Chemical reactivity characteristics of the metalworkşng lubricant are very important both for tooling and the workpiece metal. Slight adherence of lubricants to metal surfaces is somewhat desired. 
  • The type of metalworking process is important. Cold working or hot working is important.
  • The toxicity of the lubricant, flammability, and cost are the other important parameters in the selection of proper metalworking lubricant. 


This is the general information about metalworking lubrication in metal forming operations.

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