Understanding the role of CNC coolant refractometers is key for anyone looking to keep their machine tools running successfully and efficiently. Metalworking fluids are used to lubricate and cool cutting tools during machining operations in CNC machines.
These fluids can degrade over time due to exposure to heat and metal particles, which can lead to poor machine performance, shorter tool life, and other issues. Maintaining the proper concentration of coolant is essential to ensure consistent machining performance and to prolong the life of the machine and its tools.
In this guide, we’ll explain how CNC coolant refractometers work, as well as their benefits, uses, and important safety tips.
What Is a CNC Coolant Refractometer?
A CNC (computer numerical control) coolant refractometer is a device used to measure the concentration of coolant in metalworking fluids used in CNC machines. The refractometer measures the refractive index of the coolant, which is related to its concentration. Concentration is required to stay within a certain range so as not to affect the quality of machined parts.
The CNC coolant refractometer allows operators to quickly and accurately measure the concentration of coolant in the machine’s fluid system. It’s designed to provide accurate and reliable measurements of various parameters within the coolant, such as water content, viscosity, pH levels, and surface tension.
You can use this data to determine how much additional coolant you should add or remove in order to maintain optimal cooling performance.
How Does It Work?
A CNC coolant refractometer utilizes light refraction to measure the concentration of a coolant. The device works by passing a beam of laser light through the coolant then measuring the angle at which the light is reflected off the device’s internal prism.
By analyzing this angle, along with other parameters such as temperature, it’s possible to accurately gauge the concentration of the coolant.
Calibration & Maintenance Procedures for Coolant Refractometers
Coolant refractometers are a crucial piece of equipment used in precision cutting and machining. They require diligent maintenance and calibration in order to ensure accurate readings. You should calibrate it every few months using a liquid with known concentration values.
Cleaning and lubricating the device regularly is also important for maintaining its accuracy. Check the prism for scratches or other signs of damage that can affect the reading accuracy.
If you are using a digital refractometer, do some periodic checks for voltage variations. That can affect the device’s performance.
Benefits of Using CNC Coolant Refractometers
CNC coolant refractometers offer many advantages over conventional test equipment. For one, refractometer readings are generally more accurate because the device is designed to measure the concentration of two or more components in liquid.
Refractometers don’t require a sample preparation process. This means that there’s no need to calibrate the instrument prior to use.
Finally, they are incredibly easy to use and require minimal operator training.
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using a CNC Coolant Refractometer
When using a CNC coolant refractometer, it’s important to avoid certain mistakes. This will ensure the accuracy and reliability of your readings.
Firstly, make sure that you don’t measure outside the temperature range recommended by the manufacturer.
Also, you should be aware of the effects of ambient light on accuracy. When possible, keep your work environment dark while taking measurements.
Finally, avoid exposing the refractometer to liquids other than those being tested. And, always immediately clean up spills.
What Type of Brix Refractometer Should I Buy?
There are 3 popular types of refractometers:
- Brix Scale 0–10: An optical unit with accuracy around 0.1% and graduation of tenths.
- Brix Scale 0–32: Another optical unit that provides you a slightly higher accuracy range of .02% and graduation of fifths.
- Brix Scale 0–56: Digital refractometers are effective when you are automating your coolant processes and need to consistently monitor your coolant readings. For example, the Dazzle™ systems by Zebra Skimmers incorporates a built-in digital refractometer.
About Zebra Skimmers:
Our mission has always been to provide the metal working industry with the oil skimmers and metalworking fluid management systems they need to complete jobs quickly and efficiently. Innovative and affordable solutions have gained us many accolades. Our continued growth is due in no small part to our excellent customer service… Not to mention our satisfaction guarantees and the performance of our tools.
Among our diverse options of oil skimmers and metal working fluid management systems, you can expect to find:
- Coolant management equipment, which includes coolant mixers, proportioning pumps, and coolant automation systems to mix and deliver fluid solutions at the desired concentrations.
- Industrial oil skimmers, including tramp oil belt skimmers, disk skimmers, tube oil skimmers, and individual sump coalescers for the removal of surface and tramp oils from fluids.
- Aeration or circulation equipment and sump odor control tablets to control fluid odor
- Industrial fluid monitoring equipment, including brix refractometers to verify fluid solution concentrations, pH test strips and water hardness testing sticks.