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The increase in industrial production in countries such as India and China is also increasing demand for metalworking fluids (MWFs). The challenge is to find the right product for various applications in order to minimise wear on tools and machines, and to avoid unplanned operational shutdowns.
Total global production of MWFs increased from 1.85 million tonnes at the turn of the millennium to the current level of almost 2.4 million tonnes. This increase can be linked for a large part to developments in Asia, which now accounts for more than 40% of consumption, compared with 30% in the year 2000.
In round figures, MWFs account for 6% of the global lubricants market. Demand for industrial lubricants has been more or less stable over the last 15 years – approximately 39 million tonnes – and currently accounts for only 1% of total global crude oil consumption.
The forecasts presented by world leading industry experts do, however, indicate a continued, steady growth for MWFs, and in certain Asian countries there may be a doubling in five years. Total global consumption is expected to reach around 2.8 million tonnes by 2020, with Naphthenic oils increasing their market share in this application.
Growth will be enhanced by the increased use of MWFs in many industries, including the transport industry. Another driving force is the increased use of special alloys and demand for more high-performance fluids. This is to some extent counteracted by the increase in demand for metal replacement and alternative metalworking technologies and regulations restrictions.
But there are without doubt clear indications that demand for MWFs will continue to increase over the next 5-10 years.
According to Dr. Gaia Franzolin, Nynas Global Marketing Manager, industries such as mechanical engineering and steel are forecast to grow by around 3.5% globally, while at the same time urbanisation will bring infrastructure development and construction activity particularly in the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), China, India and South East Asia (SEA).
“In the automotive sector,” she continues, “LCVs and private cars are forecast to grow in the next 5 years at rate of +5.5% globally, while in the aviation industry, commercial aircraft production is set to grow by 4% by 2030. Growth drivers are also provided by new material. In transportation, for example Al and Ti lightweight alloys are being used for fuel efficiency, and in aerospace and other industries we are seeing more difficult-to-cut metals and temperature-resistant super alloys.”
Dr. Gaia Franzolin also points out that niche applications such as the surgical equipment market will continue to grow, requiring more specialised MWFs. Medical tools use high-strength, bio-compatible metal alloys such as titanium, which has to be machined with bio-compatible, ester-based MWFs.
“Ultimately, it’s important to remember that technological advancements also bring the need for improved MWF performance (longevity and stability). And their lower consumption will be compensated by higher costs and improved tool life.”
Nynas has a strong international position as a supplier of base oils for MWFs. This is because of stable, high quality thanks to in-house production capacity, but also because the excellent technical knowledge base built up over the years helps customers to find the right product for various applications.
A number of initiatives are needed to attract new groups and in general to increase diversity in the industry. There is otherwise the risk of a serious skills shortage in the future.Read more about Talking point: recruiting new talent