As a business owner, maintenance manager, or procurement manager, you have a lot of different types of lubrication to choose from. Every lubricant has its own set of benefits and applications. In order to make the right choice for your assets, it’s important to understand the differences. This blog post is a great introduction to the many types of lubrication. However, you don’t have to figure this all out on your own! There are third-party contractors called lubrication engineers who can audit your equipment needs and current lubricants to help you come up with a lubrication plan that works. In this blog post, we’ll explore the benefits of the different types of lubrication so that you can make an informed decision on your own or with help.
Why do You Need Different Types of Lubrication?
Regardless of how smooth a surface appears to be, it has irregularities on a molecular level. These peaks and valleys cause friction and heat in machinery with moving parts, even with a light load or at a low speed. This can lead to surface degradation, overheating, and equipment breakdown. So, you need lubrication to reduce the friction between the two moving surfaces. But, why do you need different types of lubrication? Machinery and its components move and function in many different ways at various speeds, temperatures, and loads. The various types of lubrication are:
- Hydrodynamic or Thick Film Lubrication – There is a stable, unbroken thick film of lubrication. The oil film builds up a pressure that provides support for the load.
- Hydrostatic Lubrication – Similar to hydrodynamic lubrication there is still a continuous film of oil, except an external oil pump creates the pressure buildup to support the load.
- Boundary or Thin Film Lubrication – In operating conditions where you can’t achieve a full fluid condition, the oil film will be very thin, and the two surfaces may come into contact.
- Extreme Pressure Lubrication – High pressure, high speed, and high temperatures require a special lubricant. In this environment, a liquid lubricant may break down or vaporize. Additives help the lubricant form a more durable film that can endure extreme conditions.
What are the Benefits of Lubrication?
Proper lubrication is highly beneficial to your assets and your business. Reducing friction and operating temperatures helps extend your assets’ useful life and keeps them running smoothly. Additionally, there are many types of lubrication that provide protection from rust or corrosion from water or other factors, such as contaminants. Improving all of these conditions means you improve your equipment reliability, uptime, and production. This means that proper lubrication can have a major impact on the bottom line of your business.
4 Types of Lubrication
Now that we’ve covered the importance of proper lubrication and why you need different types of lubrication, let’s get into what the main lubricants are. You likely use the two most common lubricants daily, which are oil and grease. The other two main types of lubrication include penetrating lubricants and dry lubricants. These are high-level categories of lubricants and there are many different types of lubricants, additives, and applications within each of these.
Oil is a thin liquid lubricant that is number one on the list. It’s important to get the right viscosity or “weight” because that is key to its function as a lubricant. Thicker oil will have a higher viscosity, and a thinner oil will have a lower viscosity. Oil is typically used on several different components, from hinges to bearings. It presents less resistance than grease and can be wicked into small spaces without the need to disassemble the equipment.
Grease actually isn’t far from oil. It is a mixture of oil, thickeners, and sometimes other added lubricants. Furthermore, grease carries the same lubricant benefits as oil but with more texture for better surface adhesion. Like oil, grease comes in a wide range of consistencies. It is best used on bearings, gears, chains, linkages, or any other part that requires sealing out dust or water or needs the stickiness of grease.
Penetrating lubricant is a short-term lubrication solution. It helps with breaking down rust or debris and freeing stuck nuts and bolts. However, it can damage your equipment and you should not use it on bearings or other components.
Dry lubricants provide a special type of lubrication, as it is a lubricant that is slippery on a molecular level without needing to be a liquid. In instances where oil or grease will draw dust and dirt, dry lubricant won’t. Dry lubricant is a mixture of water, alcohol, and a solvent that dries quickly and resists buildup. You can typically find dry lubricant in a spray with the most famous one being WD-40. The best application of dry lubricants is any small parts that need to stay clean, surfaces that experience high heat or pressure, and threaded hinges, rods, or locks.
The Challenge of Choosing the Right Types of Lubrication
Proper lubrication is so important, but it can be challenging to choose the right types of lubrication for your equipment. We trust this introductory guide helps you get a better understanding of the significance and the key differences between lubricants. If we can support you in any way or if you’re looking for a platform to chart and manage your lubrication routes, contact us.