Cutting-Edge Cutting Oil

This shop sought after a lubricant that would eliminate the drawbacks of oil, upgrade the overall quality of production and save money by reducing tool changes. It found Picocut Code Blue by Pico Chemical Corporation as the answer to its problems. This oil was developed in response to customers’ requests for a chlorine-free oil that can replace older technology products, but at the same time, meet the need for longer tool life, higher production speeds and improved finishes.

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Universal Precision Instruments, Inc. (Elkhart, Indiana), a contract manufacturer that specializes in precision medical machined devices requiring highly accurate dimensions and superior finishes, seeks continuous improvement and tighter repeatability for its parts production. Therefore, it is always searching for the best practices, tooling and lubrication. At the same time, it wants to be as environmentally responsible as possible for not only its customers, but its workers, neighbors and community.

The company, then known as Bates Machine, began in 1979 as a general-purpose machining operation, and by 1990 was converted into producing primarily instruments and surgical implants especially for orthopedic applications. 
Its machining processes make raw metal and material stocks into highly finished parts using CNC lathes, chuckers, mills, EDM, laser etching, grinding, bead blasting, buffing and polishing. Materials that are commonly processed are titanium, stainless steels (including the toughest of alloys), cobalt chrome, Delrin, PEEK, UHMW and aluminum.

Productivity Improvements

Like many other shops in the medical component market, Universal Precision Measurements (UPI) used to use black sulfurized-chlorinated oils, spike additives and heavy-duty solubles to maximize tool life and achieve the best finishes. Where possible, John Zeitler, manufacturing manager at UPI, favored high-powered compounded oils to provide the maximum lubricity and extreme pressure (EP) effectiveness to extend tool life and reach the tightest tolerances with the smoothest finishes.

However, there are some limitations with older-technology neat oils. These include dirtiness created on the machinery, nasty sulfur odors, misting especially under high machining speeds, heat build up, foam with high-fluid delivery rates, cleaning difficulties and environmental issues raised by the disposal of chlorinated paraffins. Water solubles cannot deliver the EP punch and lubrication value, especially on titanium and certain grades of stainless, that oil can. This lubrication deficiency results in lower tool life and more finishing steps to achieve bright surfaces. Consequently, Mr. Zeitler was seeking a lubricant that would eliminate the drawbacks of oil, upgrade the overall quality of his production and save money by reducing tool changes.

The Solution

UPI discovered Picocut Code Blue by Pico Chemical Corporation. This oil was developed in response to customers’ requests for a chlorine-free oil that can replace older technology products, but at the same time, meet the need for longer tool life, higher production speeds and improved finishes. Pico believed that a clear oil with a distinctive color and low misting characteristics would be appealing to machining companies in the medical industry. Instead of using the older additives, Pico approached the issues by examining the base oils and incorporating new technology synergistic additive systems without chlorinated paraffins.

According to Pico’s chemists, Picocut Code Blue can operate in a range of temperatures because its EP and lubrication system performs from the initial cut to the final CNC operation in a variety of machining operations time after time. As these additive systems operate, they reduce the heat generated by the metal deformation at the point of cut, thus raising the oil’s efficacy, cooling capacity, resistance to breakdown, and tool wear.

As long as the oil is filtered to remove the chips and fines, the oil’s bath life is virtually unlimited because it is formulated to be protected from oxidation and not experience selective additive depletion as do older oils and fluids. It does not develop “Monday morning odors” and needs no concentration checks, mixing or fluid management services, according to the company.

Precision’s Advancements

According to Mr. Zeitler and other UPI operational personnel, the results of using Picocut Code Blue have been significant. After only a year’s use, the new oil has replaced all older cutting oils and has exceeded their expectations by increasing (doubling in some cases) tool life, cutting tough stainless alloys and titanium without needing any “spike” additives. According to Chris Kusnierek, UPI’s quality manager, the product has allowed the company to achieve even higher tolerances in a repeatable fashion, and in some cases, reduce the need for further finishing steps such as polishing and buffing.
Machine operators report that they appreciate Picocut Code Blue’s clarity for machine and part cleanliness. Its mild odor improves the work environment from the old, black, smelly sulfurized oils. Because it is chlorine free, it does not have undesirable cleaning, staining and environmental issues often found in the older formulated “red” oils that were popular in the stainless machining industry.

Mr. Zeitler was also able to replace some water solubles being used at excessive concentrations with their high additive packages where machining performance (tool life and finishes) were marginal. “Using Code Blue wherever I can has saved us time and money by reducing tool usage and lowering maintenance expenses for tooling change downtime, concentration control, biological concerns, disposal costs, rusting issues and excessive foam generation,” he explains. “In fact, on one of UPI’s high-pressure (2,000-psi) coolant feed systems, all of us were pleasantly surprised to see how low the foam was with the new cutting oil.” UPI’s customers often remark how bright the machined surfaces are that come directly from the CNCs.
Picocut Code Blue has answered UPI’s demands by offering an environmentally friendly oil that has improved the company’s overall part quality by producing better part finishes and has lowered operating costs through improved tool life. 




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