How to Test Fluid Samples

You have pondered switching your metalworking fluid. Whether it is a soluble oil, straight oil or synthetic, it is crucial to give your sample a fair test. Many times a superior product may test worse than its inferior equivalent due to a poor testing environment. There are many factors to consider when setting up the testing environment, as well as how you are going to test the sample.

Prepare the Testing Environment

Once you have established a time to test new fluids, it is important to include time to prepare the environment. In scientific experiments, scientists meticulously craft the environment to get controlled and accurate results, the same should apply to your fluid test. Depending on your process, preparation may involve: draining the sump, wiping down parts, running a cleaner through the machine, or changing your tools. It is important to have a fresh and consistent environment as you will reduce the amount of variables that may affect performance.

Determine Testing Metrics

Firstly, you and your team should determine what is going to be monitored. It is best to use a typical process for a given machine. The results will give better insight if you are machining a component that you regularly make. If you are testing a heavy-duty product, using a complex process will allow you to observe the sample in tougher conditions. You can test for a variety of quantitative and/or qualitative factors such as: foaming, evaporation rate, performance and residual film. Whatever you want to monitor and improve, setting clear goals will aid your analysis.

Run a Baseline Test

Secondly, run a test on the current fluid. Ensure that the fluid is fresh and the machine is in proper working order. On occasion, a fluid may perform poorly because it has not been maintained properly or incorrectly used. Consult technical data sheets to determine best practices for the fluid. Sometimes, your issue be resolved if proper usage and maintenance are practiced. Measure your results and then reset the testing environment for the sample(s).

Sample Testing and Decision-Making

Finally, test your sample(s) with the exact same process as your baseline test for an accurate comparison. It is important to prepare the testing environment to the conditions best suited for the sample. Consult technical data sheets for determining proper concentration and operating conditions. These conditions may differ from the baseline test and differ among different samples. Once complete, you can compare the results of the sample test and the baseline test and determine which product is the best.

Once the testing is complete, you and your team should compare the results of the sample(s) against the baseline and make a decision on which fluid to use going forward. It is important to consider other business and economic factors as well. Things like price, lead time and availability are also important as these could impact the bottom line and productivity.

Post-Decision Considerations

After a final decision has been made, it is important to set up a proper operating environment going forward. Set up new operating procedures to produce a consistent operating environment and communicate the changes with your team and machine operators. This ensures maximum performance of the fluid and reduces the likelihood of having to switch and go through the testing process again. If a switch is made, you must figure what to do with the remaining fluid left at your facility; some options include: using up the remaining fluid, reselling or returning the fluid, or disposing of the fluid with an environment services company.