Blachford Corporation

New Technology Dry Lubricants that Reduce

New Technology Dry Lubricants that Reduce

Dust Creation Potential

In 2009, a Georgia (US) sugar mill suffered a devastating explosion due to the presence and subsequent ignition of a combustible dust cloud. This terrible accident resulted in the deaths of 13 people and changed forever the way industrial manufacturers manage and mitigate dust related risk.

This accident illustrated the risk associated with combustible dusts and led many wire drawers to begin searching for ways to reduce both the creation and accumulation of dust - in their facilities. As part of their search to reduce this risk, a number of wire producers turned to Blachford Corporation for technological developments that would reduce dust creation during steel wire drawing.

Blachford is known throughout the global wire drawing industry as an innovator and a solutions provider. Blachford develops lubricant programs that are tailored to the technical specifications of their customers’ processes. Blachford is well known for their continuous research of new technologies that aid in the production of wire. Blachford has been doing this for many of the world’s largest wire drawers for over 50 years. Blachford is valued within the global wire industry as an organization that innovates, researches, and works with wire producers to create value and provide technical solutions.

Blachford works to help wire producers achieve their goals and become more successful in their respective markets. So when asked to find a way to reduce dust risk, Blachford’s highly skilled team of scientists and engineers began working to find a solution.

As Blachford is primarily a lubricant manufacturer, and most dust concerns were coming from steel wire customers, Blachford focused primarily on developing a steel wire drawing lubricant that would have a lower potential to create and/or liberate dust during use.

Producing steel wire tends to be a dusty enterprise, due to the activities performed and the materials used. Whether descaling, mixing dry pre-coats into water, drawing wire with dry lubricants or further processing that wire downstream – each unit operation in the wire production process has the potential to liberate dust. Blachford therefore needed to first qualify how dust is created when dry drawing lubricants are used in wire drawing.

There are primarily three sources of dust from dry drawing lubricants in wire drawing:

During transfer of drawing lubricant from packaging to the wire drawing machine. When lubricants are poured into the soapboxes, those that have high fines content will create dust. The high fine particle content is created when the lubricant is manufactured and ground to a set particle size. These fine particles are very light and can easily become a dust cloud. Blachford recommends overcoming this dust source by moving away from ground lubricants, to Beaded lubricants whenever possible. Beaded products are not ground and therefore they do not have fine particles. Instead, beaded products are manufactured with a very specific particle size distribution that do not liberate dust when poured into a soapbox.During the drawing process – when the wire agitates the lubricant in the soapbox. This can be overcome in a number of ways, but all involve keeping the dust from leaving the soapbox.After the wire is drawn through a die the lubricant on the wire cools and becomes brittle. When the wire is then bent around the capstan, the lubricant shatters and is thrown into the air. This happens because the lubricant – which is soft when it is hot – in the high heat and pressure of the die – becomes cool when the wire exits the die. As the lubricant cools it becomes hard again and the thin lubricant film on the wire becomes brittle. The wire is then pulled around a capstan, which bends the wire. The brittle lubricant film then shatters in the same way reverse bending shatters rod scale. The capstan’s centrifugal force then causes the loosened lubricant to fly off the wire and become airborne. Until now there hasn’t been any way to overcome this potential significant source of dust…

As stated above, the first two sources of airborne dust are easily controlled and have been for some time. The challenge existed in controlling the dust source detailed in #3 above. A technical innovation was required to develop a dry lubricant that would be less likely to become brittle when cooled and/or less likely to detach from the wire when rotating on the capstan. Blachford’s efforts led to their newest technological development: Blachford’s Low Dust Drawing Lubricants.

Blachford’s new low dust lubricants are designed to reduce observable dust creation by reducing the potential of lubricant detaching from wire when the wire is bent and rotating around a capstan. The reduced dust creation is achieved by improving the lubricant-to-wire interface such that adhesion between the two media is consistently maintained even after cooling. By reducing lubricant detachment, the potential for lubricant becoming an airborne dust is reduced as well.

Reducing the lubricant that is detached from the wire has added performance benefits as well. If more lubricant remains on the wire as it wraps around the capstan, more lubricant is delivered into the subsequent die. This can increase and improve lubricant film formation at each die, thereby improving overall lubricant attributes, like:

Higher drawing speed

Reduced lubricant consumption

Extended die life

Better wire surface protection

Increased wire rust resistance

Reduced blackened material in the soapboxes

Blachford’s new low dust lubricants are being run in a number of steel wire drawing applications, from high carbon, to weld wire, and tire reinforcement wire, all with very good results. The new low dust lubricants are delivering to these applications both reduced observable dust creation and improved performance.

Blachford’s new low dust lubricant technology also affects the material that falls from the die outlet – often referred to as “Feathers”. Most lubricants produce feathers in some form, whether just chips that fall out of the die, flakes or streamers, most lubricants can feather. These feathers can contribute to dust formation when they cool and become brittle, break into fine particles and become airborne. The same technical improvements that help Blachford’s new low dust lubricants to remain attached to the wire even after the wire and lubricant are cool, also reduce the tendency of the resulting feathers to become brittle and break into fine particles. Therefore, feathers created with the new low dust products are less likely to contribute to dust creation.

In addition to the development of these new products, Blachford has invested in learning about dusts, their risks and methods of controlling them. Blachford sent R&D personnel to train at Chillworth Global (A leading dust testing lab services provider) to better help customers mitigate dust risk. Blachford has tested many of their own products at Chillworth, to understand the products’ impact. And Blachford has authored an Information Bulletin (“Controlling Dusts From Dry Wire Drawing Lubricants”) – a copy of which can be supplied by request from one of the below contacts.

Blachford has developed new products, gathered relevant information and invested in training so as to provide customers with the best guidance in the control and mitigation of dust risk.

Blachford’s new low dust lubricants may provide to steel wire drawers an opportunity to reduce dust risk, while also improving overall process performance and profitability.

If you would like to receive further information on anything described in this article, please contact Blachford by any of the following routes:

By calling us 815-464-2100 or 317-501-5869By email atMark Van der Vlist - orDan Howard -

Website at

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