Overcoming The Current Challenges Facing the Aerospace Metalworking Fluid Market

Patrice Sajkiewicz, Global Aerospace & Defense Director, Quaker Houghton

As industries continue to drive demand for more efficient, cleaner and cost-effective processes, fluid solutions must not only serve the current marketplace, but also anticipate the needs of the future. Quaker Houghton’s Aerospace and Defense Global Director, Patrice Sajkiewicz, delves into the current challenges within the sector.

Across the world, mission-critical parts are milled at a high daily output rate for all sorts of industries. Needless to say, manufacturers rely heavily on metalworking fluids to provide high-quality durability and performance capable of meeting these production demands. 

The Aerospace and Defense industry is no exception. With the U.S. looking to remain committed to fortifying its military, a Deloitte analysis expects the industry to remain resilient. This, alongside the expected CAGR of 2.5 percent between 2021-2026 for the metalworking industry, means companies within the aerospace sector will be looking to integrate more efficient solutions to meet the expected demand. One such solution is optimization of cutting fluids used in the metalworking process.

Creating Complete Fluid Solutions

Often, the primary challenge for fluid manufacturers is creating solutions that offer improved efficiencies in all aspects of its application. Within the Aerospace and Defense industry, this is especially important. 

Cutting fluids need to be versatile across numerous materials, ranging from carbon fibre composites to aero aluminum alloys and heat resistantalloys to serve the market more widely. While solutions can be tailored to specific materials, aerospace OEMswill already have many metal working fluids approved for use on these various materials, with extensive testing and data behind each product to ensure it meets the strict standards required. Consequently, formulating cutting fluids that can pass the expected performance ratings for each required material can be a challenging, lengthy and expensive prospect, and approvals can take years to achieve.

One such instance is the fluid’s performance in other areas, such as detergency. It goes without saying that machines need to be clean and free from residue to perform at optimum efficiency. Therefore, cutting fluids that reduce drag-outs are heavily sought-after, due to the costly downtime required to clean and service the machinery.

Material compatibility and detergency must be achieved while also improving the cutting performance and reducing bacterial issues, demonstrating the difficult challenge fluid manufacturers face when formulating with the industry’s criteria in mind.

However, that’s not to say new cutting fluids are considered out of bounds. It’s a given that aerospace OEMs will need continuous improvement in their processes, especially in fluid performance.

An example of the type of cutting fluid innovation that is leading the modern market is Quaker Houghton’s HOCUT® 4260, a water-soluble metal-working fluid. Boasting various benefits, the cutting fluid is designed to provide enhanced machining performance alongside extended tool life and reduced product consumption. 

“Looking ahead towards the next decade, the most notable challenge facing all aerospace manufacturers will be improving the environmental impact of their operations”

To illustrate this, a facility which Quaker Houghton has been working with over the last 18 months using the HOCUT® 4260 solution for the machining of Aluminum and Titanium alloys saw:

• Product usage reduced by 19 percent
• Increase in tool life by 2 percent
• Drag out reduced by 28 percent
• No foaming issues - removing the need of anti-foam additions
• Cleaner environment with no bacterial issues

As the expectation of cutting fluids increase and market pressure pushes technology further, solutions offering complete efficiency improvements, such as HOCUT® 4260, will soon become the industry standard.

Getting Solutions to Market

The Aerospace & Defence industries are highly regulated and precise markets, relying on extensive approval procedures that can individually take 2 to 5 years to complete. To make it even more complex, most OEMs within the sector will already have over 100 metal working fluids pre-approved and available. Therefore, to release a product successfully in an industry with high demands, the fluid manufacturers must be able to clearly demonstrate the out-weighing advantages before each OEM will agree to initiate the approval process.

To help alleviate the rigorous approval process, fluid manufacturers can much more easily sell a product to a company once it’s already seen approvals in other applications within the same business. In the case of HOCUT®4260, its wide range of application was a crucial factor to its initial adoption. The product has now gained many blue-chip references (see below) and required approvals in a matter of two years – a feat that would have normally taken ten –this has highlighted the market’s need for such a high performing versatile product.

HOCUT® 4260 is officially approved by:

Airbus: AIPS 00-00-010

Bombardier: BAMS 569-01


Rolls-Royce: CSS129/131



Preparing for the Green Futur

Looking ahead towards the next decade, the most notable challenge facing all aerospace manufacturers will be improving the environmental impact of their operations. Not only to keep up with REACH compliances, but it’s been identified as a growing concern within the metalworking industry as companies within the Aerospace and Defense sector will increasingly turn to environmentally-led products in the coming years. 

While Metal working fluids naturally extends the lifespan of milling equipment, thought leaders within the metalworking sector are especially concerned with reducing the amount of cutting fluid needed to carry out the same processes. Product usage and minimising waste will be a growing concern for manufacturers looking to reduce their environmental impact, with solutions likely to become more efficient with less product needed. On this front, HOCUT® 4260 delivers. With a notably stable formula allowing the product to last longer in operation, there is less wastage and less frequent dumps required – saving companies time and money alongside the improved environmental impact.

Going a step further, the reuse of coolant from swarf skips and houses is now becoming increasingly possible through innovation from leading product solutions like HOCUT® 4260. Once cleaned and filtered, this coolant is reusable without any hindrance to its performance. As concerns for the environment grow, the aerospace industry and suppliers to this market will begin seeing more innovative solutions to reducing coolant consumption over the coming years.

Innovation with Quaker Houghton

As a leader in industrial process fluids, Quaker Houghton is at the forefront of innovation within the sector, offering a consultative approach to optimize processes, reduce costs, advance safety and drive sustainability. With a portfolio of products ready to serve the market, Quaker Houghton ensures the latest technologies are integrated with smart approaches.

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