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Proactive Approach to Die Lube

December 1, 2007

Woodbine Tool & Die (WTD), Markham, Ontario, Canada, designs and manufactures tools and dies, and produces stampings and welded assemblies, primarily for the automotive industry. 

As with the majority of stamping companies, WTD was dealing with housekeeping issues and multiple die lubes to meet its production requirements. Working with local distributor Toronto Lube Service, a water-based draw lube for high temperature, heavy-duty drawing, stamping, piercing and flanging was introduced to the operation—Metal Mates, HDP, from Metal Mates Stamping Lubricants, Glenview, IL. The lube offered benefits including cleanliness of press areas and shop floors, and the ability to produce a finished part that could be welded through without wash and easily cleaned prior to e-coating.

While the lube proved effective for 90 to 95 percent of the plant’s needs, certain difficult parts still had to use a fineblanking or heavy oil in order to form.

Spearheaded by Mark Riegel at WTD, the organization recognized the need to look at a new lubricant for these parts. The analysis and development that followed not only delved into the actual die lube, but into the process, procedures and practices throughout the plant.

Building upon the success from the HDP main plant die lube, Metal Mates set out to develop a new version of the product to be used in specific stages of the die where forming created the greatest challenges and hotspots.

After four or five custom formulations and production testing at the presses, HDP HSS proved to be the answer to difficult forming applications with high-strength steels. The two lubricants complement each other at WTD, and the heavy HDP HSS actually washes itself off as it travels through the die.

In order to maximize consistency and repeatability, mixing for the main HDP lubricant is done by Toronto Lube Service and shipped to the plant in bulk totes at a 6:1 ratio. This replaces the previous practice where operators mixed for their individual presses and resulted in a uniform lubricant throughout the plant and an increase in production time.

Although costly from an initial-investment standpoint, a central distribution system was implemented where each press is fed directly from the totes. New lube sprayers and saddle tanks also were added for controlled application of the HDP HSS in the specific sections of the dies on difficult parts, and WTD acknowledges that return on investment was short due to increased productivity.

Each part has control sheets developed where hot spots were identified, and where in the die, if at all, the HDP HSS fluid needs to be applied. The lubricant also was dyed blue for easy identification.

As a result, WTD reports: reduced scrap rate and rework; punch and die maintenance expenses reduced by close to 60 percent; close to 50-percent less downtime; elimination of parts wash by an outside contractor; reduction in disposal charges by eliminating highly chlorinated fineblank oil; approximately 15-percent reduction in lubricant consumption through educated application; and greater parts acceptance and customer satisfaction from cleaner, more consistent finished product.

Metal Mates Stamping Lubricants: 847/657-5278;
Industry-Related Terms: Die, Draw, Drawing, Forming, Piercing, Scrap
View Glossary of Metalforming Terms


See also: ITW Fluids North America

Technologies: Lubrication, Tooling


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