Individually designed testing processes for water-based lubricants
3/2/2023 Technology & Processes Experts Know-how

Individually designed testing processes for water-based lubricants

Quaker Houghton, a supplier of industrial process fluids, launched in September 2023 a fluid testing process for most of the water-based lubricants used in the industry. Franck Belloy, Senior Business Development Manager of Hot & Warm Forging at Quaker Houghton explains how in-house lubrication testing helps to save money and improve efficiency.

Close-up of red-hot components.

Although forging fluid products have remained quite similar for the last 20 to 40 years, the requirements for industrial businesses have significantly evolved. Today, more specific and technically-advanced lubricants are needed as different kinds of parts are often forged within the same industrial plants. 

Lubrication performance is a combination of chemistry and lubricant application. Even though there has been progress in forging processes, dies, forging presses and alloys quality, lubrication remains a very important technical factor for forgings quality, dies life and overall productivity. They all may rely heavily on individual lubricant product performance. Quaker Houghton has designed specific forging performance laboratory tests to understand the customers’ problems and help solve them.


Individually designed testing process

The supplier of industrial process fluids offers a testing process for 80 to 85 percent of the water-based lubricants used in industry. The process is completed on-site at its forging customer solutions center. After a variety of different in-house tests, we can adapt and evolve the testing procedures as necessary. For example, cooling testing might involve anything from a single test up to ten tests before gaining the right results.

The different laboratory tests are crucial because it enables us to know that when we recommend a product, the different performance attributes of that product will precisely match the customers’ expectations. Then we can tweak formulations and make changes accordingly.

The laboratory tests allow the customers to define the performance of each product based on the concentration and application that reduces the cost of use:

  • Optimise die life by regulating temperature and applying sufficient protection in cold and hot areas.
  • Increase productivity through better cooling performance.
  • Reduce product consumption by applying the necessary dilution rate.
  • Improve work environment.
Red-hot components on a production line

Cost implications of testing in production

Forging lubricant production trials typically require productivity loss, equipment and additional resources to evaluate a lubricant. Often the customer uses the forging lubricant for the manufacture of different forgings shape, different alloys, and sometimes on different forging machines. This means that there are many and varied constraints including contact time, strain rate and temperature. That’s why a compromise also must be found between the easiest and most difficult parts made with the same lubricant. 

We ask five questions in the forging lab to determine performance characteristics:

  • How to protect dies during a long sliding distance under high pressure by applying a sufficiently thick and resistant lubricating film in hot and warm areas, without clogging?
  • How to reduce the temperatures of hot zones in order to reduce the coefficient of friction but also to postpone the starting point of dies damage while ensuring that the warm zones will not become too cold?
  • What is the behaviour of our product use in specific recirculating system or with specific dosing system?
  • How difficult will it be to keep a Forging line clean?
  • What advice can we give to customers? 


Lowering the coefficient of friction

A frequently asked question is whether it is possible to improve lubrication and increase die life simply by lowering the coefficient of friction. However, for a couple of materials like die and billet, the coefficient of friction increases as a function of the following factors: temperature, contact pressure, speed, sliding distance, and thermomechanical interactions. In forging each die area, each square millimetre undergoes different variations in pressure and temperature. This ensures that the coefficient of friction will never remain constant because it will always depend on the interaction of many variables. 


Optimising die life and product consumption by cool testing

The cooling test by spraying allows us to estimate the cooling performance. Meaning, a product’s ability to cool the die surface according to the water dilution ratio. 

The parameters of the cooling test by spraying are: 

  • Steel Plate with a temperature from 100 to 450 degrees Celsius
  • Pressure: 0,2 to 6 bar
  • Time: 0,1 to 30 seconds 
  • Distance Nozzles-Plate: 10 to 20 centimetres

That optimises the die life by regulating the die temperature and increases the productivity by a better cooling rate performance. Also, the product consumption enhances by adapting the dilution as effectively as possible. The cooling test allows us to estimate the product’s ability to touch and to cool the die surface according to the concentration, the pressure and spraying time.


Thickness test process to estimate covering and grip

The thickness test allows us to estimate the “covering and grip” power of our products according to the die temperature and the water dilution ratio. At the same time, two different forging fluids can be compared or a single product with different dilution ratios.

The parameters of the thickness test by spraying are: 

  • Steel Plate with a temperature gradient of about 150 to maximum 450 degrees Celsius
  • Pressure: 0,2 to 6 bar
  • Speed: 1 to 50 millimetres per second
  • Distance Nozzles-Plate: 10 to 20 centimetres

With the thickness test it is possible to optimise the die life by applying sufficient die protection in cold and hot areas as well as enhance product consumption by adapting the necessary dilution as effectively as possible. 



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Franck Belloy

Senior Business Development Manager of Hot & Warm Forging

Quaker Houghton