A Tier 1 automotive exhaust manufacturer was using a liquid lubricant in their bending operations and while the product was reliable and inexpensive, they were experiencing a lot of lubricant waste. Each time the liquid lubricant was ejected through the mandrel it would flow out of the tube, over the bender, onto the floors, and into the lubricant collection trays.
The shop had significant problems with workplace cleanliness and bacteria flourished in the collection trays. Pails and absorbent mats had to be used to pick up the excess lubricant that flowed out of the tube during bending and cutting. The manufacturer wanted to improve the work environment, minimize waste, improve tool life, decrease or eliminate bacteria, and reduce overall maintenance costs.
When evaluating Metal Mates JL-12 gel lubricant as a possible replacement for their old fluid lubricant, the manufacturer decided to test JL-12 on its most difficult part, a 6-foot, 1.5" diameter stainless steel exhaust riser with 14 compound bends. After initial trials it was clear that JL-12 dramatically reduced lube consumption and waste.
For each bender the manufacturer had been using 40 gallons of liquid lubricant a day, consumption dropped to 5 gallons a day using JL-12 and waste was eliminated. Using Metal Mates the shop was able to reduce the number of lubricant applications per part from 14 to 6. The manufacturer also noticed that JL-12 controlled heat better than the old lubricant, leading to reduced scoring and extended tool life. JL-12 also decreased wall thinning on the outside diameter of the tube.
To ensure that JL-12 was compatible with their other manufacturing process, the company performed several additional evaluations, including laser cutting, washing and welding with excellent results. The quality control department recorded and analyzed data over a number of weeks to verify the findings of the initial trials. They found that in addition to increasing the wall thickness of the bends, there was less splitting at the seams and less scoring on the radius of each bend. After the trial period, operators noted that the bacteria odor had disappeared and their dermatitis cleared up.
When all of the improvements were added up, including lubricant use reduction, absorbent mat elimination and lower disposal costs, the manufacturer estimated they were savings over $300,000 a year.
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"Before we switched to Metal Mates we had a lot of problems with excessive scoring, which was really tearing up our dies. When we tried running Metal Mates (OVS) for the first time we didn’t polish the die before and after just 25 hits the scoring was completely eliminated and the die looked like new. We’ve been using it ever since."