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Have a question on lubricants, wire drawing, quality, testing, ISO, environmental? Post your question here to get the answer!

TOPIC: Synthetic Lubricants

Synthetic Lubricants 1 year 7 months ago #1965

Has anyone got any advice on the best type of lubricants for the drawing of ultra fine wire (0.0005" and up)?

I have tried various types from water soluble emulsions through semi synthetics to fully synthetic. Although the die wear with synthetics is reduced it is only a marginal improvement over emulsions,which considering the size of wire being drawn,seems strange. I would have thought a true solution might give better lubrication at small sizes than emulsions where the emusified oil globules would be large in relative terms to the wire being drawn.

The materials being drawn are precious metals which produce very heavy die wear and are quite non wetting so it is dificult to get good lubricity.
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Re: Synthetic Lubricants 1 year 7 months ago #1966

Hi there Clover,

Here is a truly synthetic drawing lubricant you may wish to follow up on:

3M FC-40 (Formerly MW 2001) Specialty Metalworking Fluid

Some points to consider:

- It is fluoropolymer based fluid and the great thing about it is its lubricity under high shear.

- The very low viscosity (like water) makes fines removal and recovery by in-line filtering practical.

- It works with both carbide and diamond dies.

- I know it has been used for drawing tantalum and 302 stainless steel.

- The lubricant never has to be changed.

- It is very expensive.

- The entering wire surface must be absolutely clean.

- The drawing dies must be submerged.

-The capstans should be submerged.

- It will evaporate so it should be contained to avoid emissive losses.

I have no personal experience with this drawing fluid but I have researched it and I can give you the name and particulars of my contact at 3M in St. Paul, MN if you wish to follow this up. Just contact me at
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with your real name and your proper company E-mail address.

Best regards,
Peter J. Stewart-Hay
Stewart-Hay Associates
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Re: Synthetic Lubricants 1 year 7 months ago #1967

Thanks Peter,

We did try this solution a few years ago and did persist with it for some time but found in our case it didn't really live up to the claims.

The lubricant is as you say very expensive (equivelent to about $115 a litre when we last purchased 3 years ago). This fact is compounded by the fact that it evaporates very quickly. Even though we modified the equipment to make it as enclosed as possible it still required frequent top-ups.

The problem we found that it had very little detergency which resulted in residue build up in the dies which ultimatley led to premature wire breaks. I guess this relates to your point that the wire input must be very clean.

We also ran our machines with a jet flow direct to the die input face rather than submerged due to the very fine wires being drawn. I don't know to what extent this might diminish the lubricants effectiveness.

Whilst we were running with this lubricants we also came under presure from environmental bodies. The lubricant has high evaporative losses and a very long atomospheric persistance of several thousand years coupled with a high global warming potential. Given out limited success with the lubricant and the environmental hassel we switched to another lubricant.

I have more empirical data die wear using other lubricants now so I might try it again but with a pre-drawn cleaning op on the wire.

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Re: Synthetic Lubricants 1 year 7 months ago #1968


Don't laugh but we used to draw into the 50's on very simple machines and we used liqid ivory soap. We just mixed a little at at time until it worked.

And it was really cheap.
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