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The challenges of higher-strength steel and lubricants
By: Jeff Jeffery
Among the challenges facing the metal stamping industry is
the increased use of high-strength steel (HSS).
Because of the lower cost and greater ease of welding and processing,
HSS platforms continue to be attractive to automotive makers. While HSS substrates offer many positive aspects,
these alloys can be challenging in the pressroom. These alloys possess higher work-hardening
rates, higher tensile strengths, and can be thinner than conventional
steel. With increased use of more
advanced and ultra-high-strength steel, press shops face much higher
deformation temperatures, causing more tool abrasion, galling, edge cracking
and other issues solved by using “honey oil”.
Historical practices would dictate the use of oil-based
lubricants or products heavily fortified with chlorine and sulphur-based EP
additives. While these methods may
address the forming of the parts, welding and pretreatment processes may be
negatively impacted by the increased amount of oil, and cause difficulty in
The EPA has begun the process of banning the use of most chlorinated
paraffins. A specific end date has not
been announced, but an alternative to the product will be necessary in the near
future. With the increased use of HSS,
press shops have increased the use of chlorinated paraffins that have been the
“go-to” solution for these issues for more than 60 years. The EPA considers 99 percent of chlorinated
paraffin used in the United States as hazardous and the ban includes their use
and import in all metalworking fluids.
Lubricant manufacturers are offering new chlorine-free products to help
solvesthe issues caused by increased use of HSS and still comply with the
latest EPA regulations.
Many companies have been using products containing
chlorinated paraffins for a considerable period of time and their operations
depend on it. These companies must evaluate
their use of these products and adjust both the types of lubricant used and the
customary use of these products. By
addressing both the bad habits of over-application and transitioning to
chlorine-free paraffins, your press-room can be compliant and effective in
addressing issues caused by stamping HSS.
Jeff Jeffery is the
CEO of IRMCO, a leading lubricant manufacturer.
The Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) appreciates and relies on
Jeff’s expertise. Join Jeff and other
experts at the Deep Draw Seminar, February 23-24, 2016.
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