The Down and Dirty:
Full Synthetic Metalworking Fluids

Why full synthetic metalworking fluids deliver a high-performing, high-value, cleaner solution for cooling, lubricating, and sanitizing industrial machining

Metalworking is in-demand. From the automotive industry to food manufacturing, producing parts, tools, and blades keep metalworking capabilities a top priority. With that heightened demand comes the need for high-performing, cost-effective machinery processes. And that means metalworking fluids, the fluids that make metalworking work.

But which metalworking fluid is best for your machining? This month’s blog will explore full synthetic metalworking fluids and what makes synthetic metalworking fluids an ideal choice to optimize your machinery’s productivity and efficiency. Read on to learn more about what full synthetic metalworking fluids are and their best-use applications.

What are Metalworking Fluids?

Before we dive into full synthetic fluids, let’s begin with an overview of metalworking fluids. Metalworking fluids, or MWFs, are liquids or oils used to reduce heat and friction, lubricate, and remove metal particles in industrial machining, grinding, and cutting operations.

There are four categories of MWFs:

  • Straight Oils
  • Soluble Oils
  • Semi-Synthetic Fluids
  • Full Synthetic Fluids

Each category aims to support cost-effective machining that minimizes downtime, maximizes tool life, produces fewer scraps, and provides the desired end-product.

What are Full Synthetic Metalworking Fluids?

Full synthetic metalworking fluids are one of the fastest-growing solutions in machinery today. In contrast to oil-based MWFs, synthetic metalworking fluids contain no mineral oil. Instead, synthetic MWFs use synthetic base stocks, such as esters, water-soluble lubricants, polymers, biocides, and other additives that become emulsified into tiny droplets and uniformly distributed throughout the fluid. When diluted with good, quality water (something we’ll discuss in a future blog), full synthetic metalworking fluids form a transparent solution, unlike the milky or hazy appearance found in other types of MWFs.
Concentrate on your concentration! Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations when mixing full synthetic metalworking fluids with water. Going above or below the suggested concentration may cause corrosion, stickiness and residues, and biological issues.
Pointing Fillmore
Synthetic Full synthetic MWFs are specially formulated with additives that increase performance, resist contamination, and extend life span. Below are some examples of additives used in full synthetic metalworking fluids.
A specialized corrosion inhibitor, such as aluminum, that forms a protective coat on metal for anti-staining.
An additive that provides microbiological protection against corrosion and sump smell.
A unique technology made from a PEG Ester, Borated Amines, Soybean or Grapeseed base that transforms from clear to cloudy when it reaches machine lubricity.

Which Machining Applications Use Full Synthetic Metalworking Fluids?

The superior cooling qualities of full synthetic metalworking fluids make them ideal for several grinding, close tolerance, and moderate-duty machining applications.

  • Cutting
  • Grinding
  • Milling
  • Drilling
  • Turning and centerless grinding
Metalworking Fluids

What are the Benefits of Full Synthetic Metalworking Fluids?

Full synthetic MWFs provide numerous operational, production, and maintenance benefits.
Full synthetic metalworking fluids continually wet the workpiece to prevent mist and smoke, especially during the grinding process. By spreading extremely well over the surface of the workplace, full-synthetic MWFs provide high levels of machining lubrication.
Due to its formulation, full synthetic MWFs cannot mix with tramp oil and rejects it. Tramp oil is an unwanted, non-soluble contaminant found in metalworking fluids. Tramp oil reduces coolant efficiency, decreases machine performance, damages machinery parts, and prevents accurate concentration control readings. Additionally, it creates a foul odor and increases the formation of mist and smoke aerosols. Exposure to these aerosols can be a health risk. Full synthetic MWFs eliminate these concerns.
Since full synthetic MWFs contain no mineral oil and reject tramp oil, they generate lower mist levels in metalworking operations. The reduced mist significant improves air quality in the workplace and also makes it easier to maintain required OSHA and other air quality regulations.
Full synthetic MWFs are very clean. Particulate contaminants are easy to filter and less likely to clog or gum up cooling systems, which means less downtime for tool and equipment upkeep. Since it’s not oily, machine surfaces stay cleaner, plant floors are less slippery, and part handling is more secure, so the work area is safer. Plus, full synthetic MWFs can be reclaimed and recycled.
Full synthetic MWF’s transparent appearance makes the tooling and interface more visible during machining. The increased visibility can reduce machine setup time, especially in close tolerance operations or grinder applications.
So many of synthetic MWF’s benefits contribute to extending sump life. More accurate concentration control readings, resistance to tramp oil and bacterial contamination, and cleaner operations translate into better running machinery, less downtime, and longer equipment lifespan.

What Should You Consider When Trying A New Full Synthetic Metalworking Fluid?

Ready to start using a full synthetic MWF? Keep the following tips in mind.

  • Beware of Blooming Emulsions– Since there is no oil-water emulsion, full synthetic MWFs are easy to mix with water. However, when combined with water, it may effervesce like a bath salt, creating an off-gassing of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). The resulting odor may be strong for a few days but will naturally dissipate.
  • Start with a Clean Machine – When starting a new full synthetic MWF, always clean out machinery with a sump cleaner that contains a biocide before introducing a new fluid. Tramp oil additives and fungicides may not be compatible and could create a hard-to-clean problem.
  • Spend the $ on Heavy-Duty Grinding – The most inexpensive full synthetic MWFs are typically Amines-based. As the polymer percentage increases in the formula, so does the price. But, if you have heavy-duty grinding, spend the money on a pricier full synthetic MWF for superior part finish and fewer rust issues.
Out with the old and in with the new! Never mix old fluid with new fluid, unless you want to risk a big mess on your hands.
Pointing Fillmore
Optimizing your machinery’s productivity is key to cost-effective operations. Recognizing how full synthetic MWFs can help your machining is one critical part of the equation. If you have questions about metalworking fluids, reach out to our Pack Logix team. Our expert consultants bring industry-leading knowledge on sourcing capabilities, contract manufacturing, and lubrication packaging to every conversation.


Put Our Expertise to Work
Contact Us Today!