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+p mist coolant slashes coolant costs 97%: cutting coolant purchasing expense by 97% is just the start of cost savings experienced by a Florida-based fabricator that drills about 3,200 holes per day and punches an additional 20,000 holes per day.

Serving a national market for pre-fabricated steel structures, a Central Florida shop concentrates on cutting and holemaking in a variety of structural shapes, usually made from 8572 steel or aluminum.

Producing packages designed for field erection with bolted connections instead of weldments, this fabricator normally drills about 3,200 holes and punches 20,000 holes per day.


Using common twist drills in a horizontal CNC drill and a 4-station punching machine to accomplish the holemaking tasks, the shop employed flood coolant for the drill and spot lubrication/coolant for the punching operation. Additional coolant was flooded onto steel and aluminum being cut on the operation's Peddinghaus saw.

Every two months, the 20-year shop supervisor would order a 55-gal. drum of the coolant at a cost of $1,100 per drum. And, that, he notes, was just the beginning of the costs.

Coolant Costs

The EPA-compliant disposal costs for the coolant, plus the costs associated with cleaning of the coolant sumps on a weekly basis, leveraged the costs upward. Because of the Florida heat and humidity, cleaning the sumps was essential to control bacterial growth and the resulting problems, such as odor and possible dermatitis cases.

The twist drills used would only last for about 100 holes before needing re-sharpening, notes the supervisor. Sharpened in-house, the process included drill change-out and set-up time, plus the actual sharpening time.

The supervisor confesses he never bothered to calculate the general housekeeping costs resulting from the flood cooling. However, he does note that on the saw application, "there was coolant slopping all over the place."

To reduce costs and generally improve shop operations, the supervisor reviewed the complete operation. As a result, the CNC drill was retained, but twist drills were ruled out. These were replaced by a single insert-type, coolant-through spade drill that was to be used for both steel and aluminum drilling.

Mist Coolant

The traditional cooling technique for the drill was replaced by a mist coolant system supplied by Unist, Inc. (Grand Rapids, MI). The shop's saw and punch also were fitted with the new mist systems.


The Unist systems for each piece of equipment feature a small (6 - 10 oz.) coolant reservoir, a programmable metering pump, and coolant supply lines. The system takes advantage of the heat absorption capacity of nearly atomized fluids to trap and carry away the heat from the cutting and punching operations.

The supervisor notes that first difference he noticed was in cleanliness. "There was no coolant mess," he says. "It literally evaporates." With no used coolant collecting in sumps, there are no odor or dermatitis problems. Also, if there is no used coolant, there are no disposal or environmental compliance costs to be paid.

Further cost reductions were realized by eliminating $3,300 in costs every six months for new coolant. The supervisor reports that his coolant acquisition costs now are about $85 every six months.

The insert style spade drill has also eliminated the expense and productivity loss of in-house drill sharpening. Where the older twist drills produced only about 100 holes before require attention, the new drill is producing about 22,000 holes before inserts need to be replaced.

For the punching and sawing operations, the supervisor says the major mist cooling system benefits are in workspace and product cleanliness. "There is no need to clean-out the sump," he smiles. Unist, Inc. or Circle 212 for more information
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Publication:Modern Applications News
Date:Apr 1, 2005
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