Lubrication Technology for Metal Formers

By: Brad Kuvin

Friday, December 27, 2019

Event at a Glance

Sheraton Detroit Novi Hotel, Novi (Detroit), MI

Wednesday, February 12: 8:15 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Thursday, February 13: 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Details and registration:

Conference Partners: Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers, Original Equipment Suppliers Association
Plan now to attend this important conference, February 12-13, 2020, in Novi (Detroit), MI, focused on state-of-the-art technology, processes and procedures for ensuring an optimal lubrication strategy for metal stamping and tool and die manufacturing. Presented by MetalForming magazine and the Precision Metalforming Association, and with the support of the Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers (STLE) and the Original Equipment Suppliers Association (OESA), conference topics, covered by industry leading speakers, will help attendees better determine which lubricant choice is best for the tasks at hand, and how to ensure optimal performance while minimizing waste.

Festivities kick off the morning of Wednesday, February 12, with a presentation titled, The Role of Engineered Lubricants in Advanced Automotive Body Structure Construction. Speaker Daniel Schaeffler, an industry-renowned materials-science expert and MetalForming columnist, explains why this topic is critical to the continued development of newer, lighter yet stronger automotive structures.

“Need better fuel economy?” he asks. “You’ve got to lower weight. Need a 5-Star Safety Rating? You must have a strong body. These are the drivers leading to the use of advanced steel and aluminum sheet metal alloys in high-volume automotive body construction. Although both types of materials offer significant advantages over the mild steels used in the past, metal stampers cannot consistently form these new grades into complex shapes using conventional practices.

Bob Anderson
Chris Fletcher
“Steel and aluminum producers,” Schaeffler continues, “continue to create new alloys that are lighter, stronger and more formable. Proper lubrication plays a critical role in successfully stamping these new alloys. This requires tailoring the lubricant formulations to the forming conditions encountered, to ensure optimal friction behavior, including heat resistance, lubricity and cleanability—from room temperature through 150 to 250 C.

“Further, these formulations must be compatible with joining and bonding methods,” Schaeffler adds, “and must be removable prior to e-coat. The need for aluminum and advanced high strength steels in vehicle structures will only grow, and the lubricant characteristics must keep pace with these changes. During my conference kickoff presentation, I’ll focus on the opportunities and challenges associated with these new options in body construction and the role that sheet metal lubrication can play.”

Following on the Theme

Paul Bosler
Tim Canan
…of the role that lubricants play in automotive lightweighting, Paul Bosler, product manager, OEM metalforming lubricants and corrosion preventatives, at Fuchs Lubricants, will address lubrication strategies for cold, warm and hot forming of aluminum alloys.

“The use of aluminum to form vehicle body panels, components and even structural parts,” says Bosler, building on Schaeffler’s theme, “has become important to the strategies of automotive OEMs to improve gas mileage and passenger safety. As well, the use of aluminum has become particularly important to the future of e-mobility, to lightweight vehicles and to form unique components, such as battery trays. My presentation will review the properties and characteristics of aluminum alloys compared to steels, and how these differences can affect the performance and requirements of lubricants used in traditional metal forming processes, such as cold stamping and blank washing.”

Bosler also will review new lubricant technologies and use strategies designed to improve performance of aluminum—in the press and in automotive post-processes.

David Gotoff John Hoff
“Finally,” Bosler adds, “I will present new lubricants designed for warm and hot forming of aluminum sheet metal. During these processes, high-strength aluminum-alloy blanks are heated and formed in a press at temperatures from 1000 to 5000 C. Sound lubrication selection and use is essential to successful forming using these developing processes. I’ll provide a history of lubricant development for these processes, and also share some related case studies.”

When it comes to delivering lubricant to the presses in a productive and cost-effective way, often a centralized delivery system proves optimal, and that’s the subject of another day-one presentation. Subtitled, The Heart and Flow of the Press Room, the presentation, by Troy Turnbull, president of Industrial Innovations, stresses that “to ensure lubrication, often stampers will over-apply lubricant, resulting in significant waste and potentially dangerous environments.”

W. Jeff Jeffery
Patrick Ontrop
Stamping companies on the lookout for ways to control cost and boost productivity will appreciate Turnbull’s presentation: an overview of the vast array of lubrication equipment choices—hand mixing, use of premixed lubricants, mechanical systems for blending, drip buckets, rollers, airless spraying systems and electronic airless spraying systems.

“I’ll also provide some best practices related to proper lubricant-dilution requirements and monitoring, flow monitoring, and pressure sensing,” Turnbull says. “The emphasis will be on the benefits gained through plant-wide, closed-loop systems, which allow a company complete and consistent control over the lubrication application process. With this approach, thoroughly mixed lubricants are produced at a central location and distributed via an in-plant piping network throughout the manufacturing facility for use at each press. The benefits are numerous —minimal labor costs, consistent and ample lubricant delivery, and minimal waste hauling.

Daniel J. Schaeffler
Troy Turnbull
“Additionally,” he adds, “this approach enables companies to better integrate their lubrication systems with other plant-floor and ERP systems, enabling online notification and monitoring, the identification of trends, and for making a significant move toward real-time Industry 4.0 practices.”

More on IoT, as Well as 6S

Other presentations during day one include one focused on gaining control of the entire lubrication process and incorporating a 6S methodology:

  • Sort—Determine what lubricants are inhouse.
  • Set In Order/Shine (clean up)— Lay out a cohesive lubricant storage and inventory management system.
  • Safety—Determine if you are using the safest and most effective lubrication and delivery options.
  • Standardize—Can current lubricants be consolidated?
  • Sustain/Start again—Continuous improvement never ends. Implement new and more efficient products as they enter the market.

Speakers Bob Anderson, senior sales engineer, and Chris Fletcher, sales and marketing manager, Tower Metalworking Fluids, also will explain the procedures that metal formers should follow when evaluating different lubricants, assessing cost versus price, and the key metrics for determining overall success and improving the bottom line.

“Determining the parameters to monitor when testing a new lubricant is key to determining the cost effectiveness, quality improvement and process acceptance,” says Fletcher. “Preliminary steps are vital in selecting the right metal forming lubricant for the stamping process and subsequent operations. We’ll present the key steps in selecting a high-performance tooling lubricant to achieve best practices for proper application and cost saving techniques.”

Also on day one: an important talk titled, Using Industry 4.0 Technology to Track and Measure Stamping Lubricant Use. Speaker Jeff Jeffery, CEO of IRMCO, stresses that, “Data is the driver of most good business decisions. A recent Gartner Research report on manufacturing metrics notes that measuring actual costs and their impact on profitability is one of the most important metrics.”

Jeffery will explain how metal stampers can make shop-floor connections at the press to automate the gathering and reporting of critical stamping-lubricant usage data. “While typical lubricant users know what their price per gallon is,” he says, “and most likely how many gallons they use in a month, they don’t know what they use per stroke of the press. They also may not be able to track how much lubricant they use per spray nozzle. How about per shift or per operator? What if a line breaks and pumps lubricant into the pit, when do they find out? After an hour, or at the end of the shift? How much is wasted before it’s fixed?

“Just one extra drip per second,” Jeffery continues, “equates to 28,800 drips per shift or about 500 gallons per year. At a 4:1 mix, that’s a little over three drums per year of concentrate wasted. Wouldn’t it be nice to know that ahead of time? In real time? My presentation will emphasize that information is your friend—embrace it.”

More knowledge on how stampers can contain, apply and collect lubricant comes from a presentation by Patrick Ontrop, sales and marketing manager of Pax Products. Ontrop will focus on:

1. Methods for applying the desired amount of lubricant exactly where and when it is needed, including: 

  • Methods for applying lubricant to the material prior to it entering the die
  • In-die lubrication technique
  • Methods for applying thin and thick lubricants
2. Techniques for containing and collecting lubricant, including:
  • Containing spray, splash and mist.
  • Collecting lubricant from conveyors and scrap shakers
  • Collecting lubricant from stamped parts
3. Recycling collected lubricant, including:
  • Methods for filtering lubricant
  • Bacteria Issues

4. Methods for addressing issues such as:

  • Applying very small amounts of lubricant
  • Spraying multiple lubricants from the same system
  • Monitoring lubrication spray

Day Two Features An Award-Winning Case Study

Anchor Manufacturing Group, Inc., Cleveland, OH, received a 2019 Award of Excellence from PMA, presented at FABTECH in Chicago, for productivity gains realized on its automotive steering-column crash-tube line. The company specializes in high-strength aluminum assemblies, stainless-steel exhaust products, safety-critical parts, steering-column components and assemblies, and appearance parts.

“Improving the crash-tube line was challenging,” says conference presenter Tim Canan, manager of industrial engineering at Anchor, “due to tight part tolerances and high throughput expectations. Also challenging: the complexity of the line, which includes a five-station forming machine, a nine-station pierce machine, two CNC machining centers, a deburring operation, parts washer, stencil unit and a restrike press.”

The first major improvements to the line, and what will comprise the meat of Canan’s presentation, occurred on the form and pierce equipment to correct mechanical issues with the equipment, as well as quality issues with the parts. “Investigation of a galling issue in the forming machine,” Canan says, “revealed oil sprayers being bumped out of position and not spraying on the correct location of the tube. Hard-lining the lubrication system corrected this problem. We also worked with our supplier to analyze the lubricant at different frequencies after a tank recharge. This helped determine when the system needed to be recharged and led to the addition of an appropriate preventive maintenance schedule.”

Lubricant Lifecycle Management

Also on day two, attendees will learn additional tips and tricks for reducing lubricant waste in their stamping operations. Says presenter John Hoff, president of Curtis Fluids:

“With new and ever changing regulations on industrial waste and the rising cost of fluids, metal stampers must dig deeper into the total cost of their lubrication efforts, which includes much more than just the price of the lubricant. Studies show that the total cost of a lubrication program can register as much as 5.5 times the initial cost of the fluid.

“Most stamping operations process fluid in a lineal manner,” Hoff continues. “In simple terms, this means that the fluid comes in one door and out the other in a relatively straight line and passing through several stages, and can affect many different parts of the manufacturing process. This can create opportunities for waste.”

Reducing or eliminating those opportunities for waste is precisely what Hoff will discuss, looking closely at the many stages of the lubricant lifecycle throughout the plant.

“Whether looking at mixing, applying, cleaning, reclaiming or removing the lubricants,” he says, “metal formers should appoint a process-improvement person with the authority to make changes assigned to the project. Once completed, these improvements must become a part of the everyday actions, not only of management, but especially of the people on the shop floor.”

Finally, we turn the attention to parts-cleaning fundamentals and maximizing the performance of a parts-cleaning program, with a presentation by David Gotoff, product manager at Chemetall-BASF.

“I’ll discuss various mechanical and chemical cleaning technologies, enabling managers to make intelligent decisions regarding the selection, design, installation and upgrade of cleaning systems,” he says. “Topics include soils, substrates, cleaners, rinsing and drying, and the means to verify cleaning and rinsing effectiveness, as well as process automation, safety, troubleshooting and preventive maintenance of process equipment.” MF


See also: FUCHS Lubricants Co., Tower Metalworking Fluids, IRMCO, Chemetall US, Inc., Pax Products, Inc.

Related Enterprise Zones: Lubrication

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