Exploring the Different Types of Industrial Lubricants and Their Applications

Exploring the Different Types of Industrial Lubricants and Their Applications

Industrial lubricants are designed to offer lasting protection against the friction and wear that lead to mechanical failures. However, lubricants do more than reduce friction.

Liquid, grease, and dry lubricants serve different purposes in a mechanical system. Here are four popular lubricant formats: mineral-based, synthetic, liquid-based and dry.


Mineral-Based Lubricants

Mineral oil-based lubricants are popular because they’re readily available, relatively inexpensive and can meet most industrial needs. They can perform well in various temperatures and conditions and can be combined with various additives.

Vegetable oils are an alternative to petroleum-based lubricants and offer several advantages, including renewable, biodegradable and lower toxic properties. However, they have low oxidative stability and are unsuitable for high-temperature operations. In addition, vegetable oils are incompatible with a wide selection of seals and can clog filters.

Polyalphaolefins (Group IV base stocks) resemble mineral oils in chemical composition and are the most widely used base stock for fully synthetic engine, gear and compressor oils. They are also used in several biodegradable hydraulic fluids, such as HEPR.

Synthetic Lubricants

When it comes to industrial lubricant Richmond VA, there are many different options. Each type of oil has advantages and disadvantages, from mineral oils to fully synthetic fluids.

Fully synthetic fluids are manufactured by combining base stocks that have been synthesized through an intended chemical reaction. These fluids offer a consistent molecular weight and specific performance properties not found in mineral-based lubricants.

Specifically, polyethylene glycols (PAG) and polyalphaolefins (PAO) are the most common synthetic fluid types. These fluids can be formulated to provide a wide range of useful characteristics such as low-temperature fluidity, high flash point, flame resistance, paint compatibility, seal compatibility and deposit control.

They can also reduce energy losses so that machinery needs less power and electricity-generating facilities generate more energy. This translates to longer equipment life and lower operating costs. They also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which are increasing worldwide concern.

Liquid-Based Lubricants

There is a growing need for better lubrication in metal-forming processes due to the excessive friction created by materials coming into contact. This can cause several problems, such as deformation, heat generation, and reduced equipment life cycle.

Liquid-based lubricants can be made with various additives, including ionic liquids, bio-additives, and titanium-based nano-additives. They also have higher viscosities and density, creating thicker fluid films for greater surface coverage.

These lubricants can be made with either Group II, IV, or V base oil. Group IV base oils are completely synthesized (man-made) hydrocarbons that begin with an extract from crude oil. They can be produced through hydrocracking and solvent or catalytic dewaxing processes. They have superior anti-oxidation properties. They have low pour points and good viscosity indices for their viscosity grade. Based on Group I, II, or III base oils, they can form thicker fluid films than lubricants.

Dry Lubricants

Dry film lubricants (solid lubricants) decrease friction between materials when in contact. They are often used when greases and oils cannot be used, such as medical devices or manufactured parts, subject to extreme temperatures and vacuum pressure.

Graphite, molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) and PTFE are dry lubricants. They can be applied as a coating or directly to the surface of the material they protect. Graphite and MoS2 have a lamella crystalline structure that exhibits weak shear forces between layers resulting in low friction. PTFE has wetting angles that prevent galling, sticking and corrosion between surfaces.

The coating process used to apply a dry lubricant is critical for ensuring the longevity of the lubrication. Whitford Worldwide offers a wide range of PTFE and MoS2 coating machines that can spread the lubricant to various substrates. Unlike other lubricants, these coatings do not migrate and will not leave the lubricated surface, making them an ideal choice for applications where contamination is an issue.

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