By David Slinkman and Yixing (Philip) Zhao


Development of metalworking fluids (MWFs) and other specialty chemical products is complicated by the large number of ingredients with interactive effects on the properties of the finished product. In the past, chemists typically made 400 or more formulations from the inception to the completion of a project while testing the effects of each ingredient individually.



More recently, Houghton has moved to using design of experiments (DOE) to simultaneously assess the effects of many ingredients, including any interactions between ingredients. Recently chemists used this approach to develop a new metal-cutting fluid with superior emulsion stability while making fewer than 200 formulations.



MWFs play an important role in machining metal parts by keeping the workpiece at a stable temperature so close tolerances can be held. They also lubricate the cutting tool to increase its life, prevent rust on workpieces and cutters and help improve the quality of the workpiece by continuously removing metal fines, chips and swarf from the cutting tool and surface of the workpiece.