Even the most experienced forecaster couldn’t have predicted what would happen this year. The COVID-19 pandemic threw off many growth and earnings projections — and now, various industries are revising their goals for the foreseeable future in response.

Despite the uncertain manufacturing climate, the metalworking industry is still slated to grow steadily. Over the next decade, manufacturing is expected to increase revenue at a 3.9 percent rate, driven by a constant need to machine new parts. Though orders and parts may be different, or come from a variety of customers and industries, the need for manufacturing will still be there. Since the U.S. plans to continue fortifying the military, the defense industry is projected to remain stable as well.

Here’s what to watch in the metalworking fluid industry:

Increased Demand for Environmentally-Friendly Fluids

Many companies have implemented environmentally responsible initiatives, such as longer lasting fluids and tighter maintenance procedures to reduce waste generation. Eco-friendly fluids can help reduce a company’s overall environmental impact and footprint.

However, defining “environmentally-friendly fluid” may be difficult. Waste treatment, recycling capacity, sump life, makeup rates, and chemical composition are all factors. Metalworking shops will first need to determine what environmentally-friendly means in the context of their operations, then work with their supplier to choose an appropriate fluid. Master Fluid Solutions recently earned the USDA Certified Biobased Product Label for TRIM® HyperSolTM 888NXT, a new product that reduces greenhouse gas emissions by displacing petroleum from its chemical makeup. The metalworking fluid was certified by the USDA as being 54 percent made of biobased content. 

Health and Safety Concerns Take Center Stage

Worker health and safety are a top concern due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Staggered shifts, distancing protocols, and enhanced personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements are now standard. Some manufacturers have installed additional hand washing and sanitizing stations throughout their facilities.

Beyond performance, choosing the right metalworking fluid can help keep workers healthy — which is always a top priority. High-quality fluid will minimize dermatitis issues, if the liquid comes into contact with employees’ skin. In addition, when mist is released in the air during machining, low-grade fluid may cause breathing or lung issues. To minimize employee health risks — and unwanted foul odors — it’s safest to go with a high-quality metalworking fluid that is tailored to your specific application.

Synthetic Fluids Gain Ground

As companies look to control costs, tool life and coolant spend becomes even more important. Many metalworking applications have critical surface finish requirements, which requires excellent lubricity and tool performance. These two factors require using a fluid that will reduce excess tool wear and poor surface finish, resulting in flaws on the machined surface.

As a result of environmental reasons and low make-up rates, synthetic fluid is expected to become more widely used. Over the next seven years, purchases of synthetics will increase by 4.7 percent.

Use in Electricity and Power Generation Will Expand

The demand for reliable energy sources continues to grow, particularly in residential areas as more people working from home put increased demand on the electrical grids. Therefore, alternative energy sources are becoming more common to keep grids powered — with 23.2 gigawatts of wind power generation expected to be added in 2020.

The power generation and energy sector requires components like gearboxes, which need to meet critical specifications. This requires the use of high-quality metalworking fluids and lubricants to ensure parts are properly machined. 

New Fluid Formulations Will Improve Machining, Reduce Waste

Though the demand for aerospace has shifted from new commercial fleets to repairs and defense, there’s still a need for fluids that will need to meet stringent specifications set forth by aircraft manufacturers. 

Formulations such as HyperSol™ 888NXT can meet the needs of aerospace manufacturers and other metalworking facilities requiring high precision and machining difficult materials. The formula has the lubricity of a soluble oil, but with none of the drawbacks. It’s low foaming, low odor, and lasts longer in the sump.

End the Year with the Right Fluid

This year has changed significantly and has certainly been a challenge for many manufacturers. Though product demand may have changed, the need for cost reduction, manufacturing flexibility, and process improvement has become more important than ever. Choosing the right fluid will help close out the year on a high note. 

For more information on the right fluid for different metalworking applications, contact Master Fluid Solutions at +1 800-537-3365 or email us at info@masterchemical.com