This article is part of the Chips Green Initiative Tech Spotlight
Roberto Piga, Maintenance Manager at Chips, comments, “The Harvard portable recycling system has taken our oil recycling efforts to the next level”!
Swiss-type CNC machines require the use of oil based cutting fluids as opposed to water based lubricants typical in other types of CNC equipment. The use of a cutting oil versus a water based lubricant introduces many new challenges to the production process. Cutting oils are necessary to provide cooling and lubrication to the cutting tools. There is a tremendous amount of heat generated at the point of cut during the machining process. Swiss machine users not only need to be concerned with the possibility of a potential fire from using an oil for this process, but they also need to be aware of the disposal of the contaminated oil.
As part of the Chips Green Initiative, Chips employees researched a solution to deal with the need to dispose of contaminated cutting oil.
Cutting oil becomes contaminated during the production process over a period of time and use. How does this happen? During the machining process, the oil is introduced to an incredible amount of pressure and heat causing the lubricant to generally lose performance. Our first challenge was selecting a product that was able to withstand those conditions and still perform to factory specification, regardless of time and use. Chips invested in a higher end cutting oil to eliminate the concern of lost lubricity and cooling properties. Chips settled on a high-grade vegetable cutting oil from Blaser Swisslube. Now, this oil is very expensive (over $30.00 a gallon!) and the contamination of metal fines and debris would still require this oil to also be disposed of. In order to address that problem, Chips made the investment in the Harvard Oil Recycling System. We purchased both the stationary and portable units. The filtration units are capable of filtering the used oil to micron levels of cleanliness, virtually returning the oil back to new, or better than new, properties.
This process not only has saved Chips the need to dispose of their used cutting oil, but the clean oil initiative has given Chips a distinct industry advantage. Using a contaminated or dirty oil greatly affects the machining operation and in some cases part quality. Oils containing debris or suspended solids will deteriorate the cutting tool's life and performance and in some cases it will scratch or blemish the finish on machined surfaces. Dirty oil can also lead to potential dermatitis and skin issues for the machine operators.
The Chips Green Initiative was a success in more ways than one!