As one of the UK’s leading subcontract sliding head turning businesses, SUB-CNC has evolved at a rapid pace since the Dunstable Company ordered a new Citizen L32 Type XII turning centre at MACH 2016. The company has just announced plans to double its shop-floor space; and to help fill the new workshop, the company has ordered yet another Citizen L20 to add to the plant list.

The extension to the current site will create a floor space of 4,500sq/ft and with four Citizen 20mm sliding head turning centres on site; the fifth and latest L20 Type VIII will complete a dedicated machining cell. The impressive growth rate at the Bedfordshire business is credit to the hard graft, investment in technology, industry awareness and technical nous of the company directors and the staff. It was the relentless drive to invest in technology and discussions with industry peers that led SUB-CNC to investigate the potential of using high quality cutting fluids from Houghton International.

When SUB-CNC learnt that other sliding head subcontractors had successfully implemented cutting fluid strategies from Houghton, SUB-CNC invited a technical engineer from Houghton International in to discuss the potential of changing its fluids. Commenting upon the introduction, Houghton International’s Sales & Business Development Manager, Mr Kev Lambdon says: “Following the well publicised and huge benefits we delivered to another workshop in the area that was also running Citizen machine tools, SUB-CNC were interested to see what we could do for their business. We trialed the Houghton MACRON 402 M12 neat cutting oil on the company’s new Citizen L32 Type XII. We emptied and cleaned the existing oil from the machine sump and installed 300 liters of our MACRON 402 M12 through the machine and high pressure system. This immediately improved tool life by over 30%.”

This instant tool life benefit has persuaded SUB-CNC to implement the Houghton MACRON 402 M12 on all its sliding head lathes. Commenting upon the switch to new cutting oil, SUB-CNC Managing Director, Mr Yian Stavrou says: “The tool life improvement was instantly apparent. On one particular batch of 316 stainless steel parts that required threading, we were getting a tool life of one insert per 100 parts. With batch production, this tool life was poor and quite problematic. However, as soon as we changed to the MACRON 402 M12, our tool life leapt up to almost 400 parts using the same inserts and machining parameters. We genuinely didn’t realise that cutting oil could have such a drastic impact. Furthermore, the Houghton fluid was more cost effective than the previous oil.”

Emptying one machine to trial the Houghton oil was all well and good. However, with another six machines full of alternate oil, the cost for a complete changeover and disposal would have been counter-productive. So, the Houghton engineer suggested topping-up the existing machines with MACRON 402 M12 until the previous oil stock was completely depleted.

Before the Houghton engineer topped the existing Citizen machines with Houghton oil, the company that is renowned as a world leading authority on fluid management conducted a feasibility study. During this study, Houghton chemists confirmed whether the existing competitor oil could be diluted with the Houghton MACRON 402 M12 without causing miscibility issues. With the dilution process in full swing, the tool life and surface finish benefits are continually improving for SUB-CNC.

Commenting further, Mr Stavrou says: “One factor we had to be conscious of, was our high pressure coolant system. This runs at 2,000psi and the viscosity of most oils would make them unsuitable for our high specification machine tools and production processes. The MACRON oil from Houghton has absolutely no issues running at this high pressure level. We are so please with the service, support and most importantly the tangible benefits of Houghton oil that we have also swapped our Lube oil to STA PUT G 68 & barfeed oil over to the Houghto Drive HM100. We are confident this oil will preserve the service life of our barfeeds beyond previous levels.”

As a subcontract manufacturer, SUB-CNC will process materials from steel and stainless through to aluminium, titanium, bronze, copper, brass and much more. This material diversity poses another issue for subcontract machine shops that isn’t always apparent. As Mr Lambdon continues: “Using the same machines and oil for a range of materials is everyday life for a subcontract business. What engineers don’t realise is that most neat cutting oils will stain aluminium alloy and ‘yellow’ metal parts. This staining is created by the chlorine and sulphur additives that are common in many cutting fluids. However, the Houghton MACRON 402 M12 neat cutting oil is dedicated ‘multi-metal’ oil that is free from such additives and it will not stain or leave any blemishes on parts.”

As an environmentally conscious business, SUB-CNC already conducts swarf spinning to reclaim potentially lost coolant from its swarf chips. This will ensure that the subcontract machine shop should only require upward of 4-5 barrels of oil per annum. Alluding to another feature of the Houghton MACRON 402 M12 neat cutting oil, Mr Lambdon continues: “Like many modern subcontract operations, Sub-CNC conducts lights-out machining where the turning centres run unmanned for extended periods. From a safety perspective, most standard neat cutting fluids have a flash-point from 90 – 120 degrees C. The MACRON 402 M12 has a flash-point that is over 180 degrees C. This makes the MACRON fluid far safer for the customer and it provides confidence and peace-of-mind when running unmanned.”