Q.1: What will be the impact on MWFs now that various governments have narrowed the biocide choices?

TLT Sounding Board August 2018


© Can Stock Photo / kadmy

Executive Summary

TLT asked readers how restrictions on biocide choices are impacting the metalworking fluids (MWF) industry. Here’s what they said:

The initial impact will be MWFs that are more expensive to manufacture and less effective. 
Customers will demand biocide-free products to avoid any potential and unnecessary risks. 
The MWFs community will eventually adapt with innovative (and costlier) technologies. 

On the more-severe cautionary labeling and safety data sheets for MWFs biocides: 

Customers will need more education to decode the new labels and information. 
Demand will force suppliers to become more creative in formulating fluids without certain chemistries.
Plant environments will be safer for workers.

Boost of 3D modeling and outsourcing to countries with less-strict legislation.

The formulator’s toolbox for performance against bioagents is narrowed.

Increased cost to manufacturers and a less-effective product.

Consolidation of suppliers and products.

Healthier workplaces.

The industry will accommodate the change, and this may drive innovation.

It will be negative, and companies will look for other materials to replace the biocides that may not be properly tested for environmental, safety and health concerns.

Increased difficulty in dealing with contamination.

Pressure on additive companies to develop molecules that are less prone to be bug food.

I think the industry will adapt and overcome these restrictions through better processes.

I think the narrowing choice of biocides in the metalworking industry has forced formulating chemists to be more creative when choosing raw materials for their fluids. Long-life fluids that do not include a biocide are plentiful in the field, whereas a decade ago this was not the case. I also believe that it has forced fluid blenders to become more active in the field. They are providing support and training on how important fluid management is to maintaining long sump life.

Companies will have to choose biocides that can be used globally.

Safer environment for workers.

More customer complaints. More use of straight oils.

Ensuring sufficient liquid properties will be problematic.

Short term: (1.) limited options for formulation projects, (2.) some reformulation work and (3.) a need to educate our customers on the changes. Medium term: Possible challenges for our fluid-management teams and end-users who will be managing bacteria/fungus with a smaller toolkit.

Potential shift to neat cutting oils to avoid the use of biocide if possible.

Natural biocides.

Reduced negative impact on worker but also greater awareness on the industry’s part to develop better methods of working metal and reducing worker exposure to misting fluid.

Companies will have to develop better MWFs with no biocides.

My fear is that the MWFs that are available will be inferior to the ones that have been used in the past.

Initially there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, but it will likely drive research in compounds that are better than those currently in use.

Unfortunately, some companies will start using harsh, unregistered, untested chemicals to kill microorganisms.

Very little impact.

I think this subject needs to be studied by us because it’s important to use metalworking fluids that are environmentally friendly.

Potential fluid immunity to certain biocides.

Shorter fluid life that will lead to higher consumption.

New bio-resistant raw materials.

New technologies will be developed.

Eventually suppliers will respond with new technologies and either (a.) these technologies will take significant time until commercialization or (b.) suppliers will beat down government agencies and the time to commercialization will shorten.

Customers want MWFs that have long tank life without the need for biocides, so formulators will have to develop products with improved biostability.

As more and more of the additive chemistries for MWFs are determined to be hazardous in one way or another, the fluids will become more expensive.

Unsure. Less selection could result in higher pricing, just as more regulation usually does.

It might raise the price as supply is squeezed.

Less innovation.

Companies will focus their efforts on biocide-free formulations.

That’s tough to say on a global basis. However, the general answer is that new technologies may be required, or higher concentrations of existing allowable technologies may be needed.

Most manufacturers of MWFs have already developed biocide-free products.

Fluid cost will increase.

Fluids are being formulated to be more inherently microbial resistant. Boric acid, which inhibits corrosion, stabilizes pH and inhibits the growth of bacteria and fungi, may see reduced usage due to its potential for reproductive toxicity. Another multi-functional additive, dicyclohexylamine, is being scrutinized due to its toxicity profile and could be used less in the future.

It should reduce costs to buyers due to economies of scale.

Metalworking fluid costs will likely rise as our customers continue to demand greater fluid life from a shrinking portfolio of biocides. It will ultimately be up to us to inform our customers about these ongoing changes and explain to them that they are ultimately for the safety of the end-user.

Shift from the biocide approach to higher pH with stronger buffering chemistry to make fluid naturally bug repellant.

It depends on the biocides that are approved for use, both in MWF concentrates or tank-side products. Without diversity comes resistance.

I believe it will cause companies to go back to the drawing board and redesign fluids to meet the changing demands.

Higher cost of manufacturing.

The impact will be major because water-based fluids must be preserved, and formulators are losing more and more chemicals to meet this goal.

Sump life will suffer. End-users will need to be diligent in housekeeping.

What impact do you think social media has had or will have on the choice of metalworking fluid preservatives?
Significant 17%
Minor 57%
None 26%
Based on responses sent to 15,000 TLT readers.

© Can Stock Photo / phuchit

Q2. What will be the impact of the more-severe cautionary labeling and safety data sheets now required for use with MWFs biocides and other components?
No added benefit for the user of the product, just more administrative costs in the process.

It will make a few people think twice before using or scoping a MWF with a questionable HS&E rating.

People do not read the labels.

More awareness on product and use of proper PPE.

Initial surprise and fear followed by slow acceptance.

Reduced health hazards.

Floor-level employees may be unaware or unconcerned about hazards, and this serves to heighten awareness and employee safety.

There won’t be a problem.

Customers have a negative response initially but understand it if all MWF companies are playing on the same field.

More confusion. End-users will require more knowledge to decode the CAS#.

At first end-users will demand no-label products. In the long run, MWFs won’t last as long, and end-users will have to change them more frequently.

I think this will be a good thing because it lets the end-user be more safety conscious of the products they are coming in contact with.

I believe the impact of more severe cautionary labeling and safety data sheets (SDSs) could potentially have an impact on sales of a product. The end-user will be more inclined to choose a fluid that does not have certain cautions versus one that does. This will force fluid suppliers to be more creative in formulating with materials that do not include certain cautionary labeling.

Companies will be forced to use less-effective biocides.

People will know what they are using.

Reformulation. Use of other, less-effective components.

Marketing counterfeit liquids might become more difficult.

A need to educate customers about the changes. A need to reformulate products where necessary to ensure SDSs/labels/hazards are acceptable to the customer.

Customers will try to avoid such products, leading to manufacturers using better, eco-friendly materials.

More expensive disposal costs. More paperwork for safety people and ISO auditors.

More chemists needed to comply with the documentation. Small companies will be pushed out.

The cost of manufacturing products will increase because of the expense of meeting new regulations.

People will become more careful in their handling, and some lawyers will call for class-action suits.

More stringent safety rules will be followed to protect manufacturers from lawsuits.

More in-use fluid SDSs.

Nothing. No one reads them.

Re-formulation to reduce or eliminate hazardous materials.

Greater worker safety will be implemented, possibly with additional PPE being provided, made available and/or subsidized.

In the short term, ingredients will fall out of favor, and MWF manufacturers will move to different ingredients with the side effect of higher cost. Those consumers who are too price sensitive to handle this will continue to use existing technology. In the long term, ingredient suppliers will develop new technologies to address both the technical and price needs of MWF manufacturers.

End-users will become desensitized to the language and labeling.

Higher prices.

This may impact large corporations that have strict umbrella policies concerning their chemical inventories but not the smaller shops and fabricators.

It can only be a good thing.

More lawsuits. Hopefully better PPE compliance.

There are two possible outcomes: people will refuse to use them; people will ignore them just as they do Prop 65 warnings on or near gas pumps in California.

If the MWF contains no biocide, then cautionary labeling is not an issue. If the MWF contains one of the safer biocides, labeling will not change significantly.

Health and safety should be our first concern.

It will require the usage of ingredients with more GHS-friendly labeling due to concerns, especially among younger workers and the more safety-conscious end-users.

The GHS standard has already resulted in an increase in customer concerns regarding the labeling of their products as hazardous. As a small manufacturer, the end-users of our products are rarely experts in chemical safety, so we must educate our salespeople so that they, in turn, can help to answer any questions that arise.

I think it is overblown, but I can understand end-users trying to find the least-nasty product.

The market and industry will adjust after an initial disruptive period.

Initially the industrial hygiene community will rebel and create headaches for everyone, but in the long run it will not result in much change.

More end-users will look for alternatives such as dry and MQL technologies. End-users may adopt additional engineering controls to reduce exposure, thus increasing cost of use.

The labeling is meant to bring the needed information to the reader. It may cause some customers to shy away from certain products and their additive chemistries.

I believe that it will cause an increase in prices for these fluids and more scrutiny on right and wrong or lack of clarification.

The customer is awash in scary and confusing GHS lingo and cannot tell whether a chemistry is truly hazardous or not. The lines are blurred, and the end-user suffers.

End-users will want other fluid options that are less toxic.

The impact is unclear because all MWF manufacturers have to operate under the same rules.

It will scare end-users.

Do you think the trend toward preservative-free personal care and food stuffs will spill over into metalworking fluids?
Yes 58%
No 42%
Based on responses sent to 15,000 TLT readers.
Editor’s Note: Sounding Board is based on an informal poll of 15,000 TLT readers. Views expressed are those of the respondents and do not reflect the opinions of the Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers. STLE does not vouch for the technical accuracy of opinions expressed in Sounding Board, nor does inclusion of a comment represent an endorsement of the technology by STLE.