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CIRP Annals - Manufacturing Technology 58 (2009) 243246

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CIRP Annals - Manufacturing Technology

journal homepage: http://ees.elsevier.com/cirp/default.asp

A new lubricant carrier for metal forming

M. Arentoft (2)a,*, N. Bay (1)b, P.T. Tang a, J.D. Jensen a

IPU, Produktionstorvet, 2800 Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Technical University of Denmark, 2800 Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark



Cold forming
Alloy plating

A lubricant carrier for metal forming processes is developed. Surfaces with pores of micrometer size for
entrapping lubricant are generated by electrochemical deposition of an alloy, consisting of two immiscible
metals, of which one metal subsequently is etched away leaving 5 mm layers with a sponge-like structure.
The pores will act as lubricant reservoirs during severe forming processes. The deposited microporous layer
is evaluated by friction tests in the form of ring compression tests and double cup extrusion tests.
Furthermore the anti-seizure properties are investigated by single cup extrusion at high reduction and
excessive stroke comparing with conventionally lubrication using phosphate coating and soap.
2009 CIRP.

1. Introduction
The large surface expansion and high normal pressure
combined with elevated contact temperature between workpiece
and tool, which prevail in cold forging of metals cause the necessity
of a high performance lubrication system [17]. The objective of
lubrication is to reduce friction and thereby lower the deformation
forces and increase tool life and more importantly to avoid galling,
i.e. breakdown of lubricant lm, metal to metal contact between
tool and workpiece, pick-up of workpiece material on the tool
surface leading to scoring of subsequent workpiece surfaces. An
efcient lubrication system is therefore essential for ensuring
production with satisfactory quality. Conventionally, a conversion
coating of zinc phosphate with dual function is applied. Due to its
topographic nature, a large surface area is created with pockets
suitable for entrapment of lubricant. Dipping the zinc phosphated
slugs in a liquid bath of sodium stearate, the conversion coating
forms zinc stearate which is chemically bonded to the workpiece
surface and covered with excessive sodium stearate as shown in
Fig. 1. The total thickness of the coating is 1020 mm. The costs of
producing such a lubricant lm amount in average to 3% of the total
costs of the formed component. The major part of the costs is
related to disposal of the sludge, which in case of alloyed steel slugs
besides iron may contain chrome and molybdenum. These
environmentally hazardous heavy metals, which appear in the
sludge due to etching of the base metal during phosphating, have
to be disposed by burying.
2. Novel method for creating porous lubricant carrier
The authors have invented a new, patented lubrication system,
based on a novel type of lubricant carrier, created by an alloy
electrochemically deposited on the workpiece surface [8,9]. The
alloying elements are specically selected to ensure deposition of a

* Corresponding author.
0007-8506/$ see front matter 2009 CIRP.

two phase layer, consisting of a mixture of ne grains of two

metals. After deposition, one of the two metals is selectively etched
leaving a micro- or even nanoporous layer of the remaining metal
on the workpiece surface. When a lubricant subsequently is
applied to the porous coating, it will be trapped in the pores acting
as numerous small lubricant reservoirs. In Fig. 2, the steps in
creating the new tribological system are illustrated.
The deposited two phase alloy in the present work is SnZn
creating a lm of typically 5 mm thickness. The lm is subsequently etched with diluted hydrochloric acid, whereby the Zn is
removed, leaving a porous Sn layer. The diluted acid is considered
environmentally harmless. If requested, the Zn can, by a simple
precipitation procedure, be recycled. Deposition rate is 0.51 mm/
min. The topography of the etched surface depends on the
chemical composition of the SnZn alloy and on the concentration,
time and temperature used in the etching procedure. Fig. 3 shows
the porous sponge-like coating. The cross-section in Fig. 3 left,
clearly shows the pores for entrapment of lubricant.
The new, porous coating may be used not only as lubricant
carrier in conventional cold forging, but also in cold forging of
microcomponents. For such components, the conventional solid
lm lubrication is often inappropriate due to packing of dies with
excess lubricant and inability to obtain satisfactory close
tolerances, since the total lm thickness is of the same order of
magnitude as the requested tolerances. Liquid lubricants are
preferred, but due to risk of galling, when using liquid lubricants
without a conversion coating, the combination of an ultra-thin,
porous, metallic lm and a liquid lubricant is proposed to
overcome these problems. Other possible two phase alloys
include: AgCo, AgFe, BiSn, CoCu and AgCu. Ag is corrosion resistant,
bactericidal and has a signicantly higher melting point as
compared to Sn, properties which may be utilized in special cases.
3. Experimental work
The capability of the new porous layer is tested by conventional
friction tests in cold forging; a ring compression test [10] and a

M. Arentoft et al. / CIRP Annals - Manufacturing Technology 58 (2009) 243246


Fig. 1. Conventional lubricant lm of phosphate coating reacted with sodium soap.

Fig. 4. Ring test of silver.

A set of calibration curves corresponding to the workpiece

material (strain hardening exponent n = 0.27) are determined by
2D FE simulations using DEFORM1 and adopting the Coulomb
friction model (t = mp). Fig. 4 shows the calibration curves together
with the experimental data.
The friction coefcient for the coated and lubricated surfaces is
found to m  0.04, whereas the non-coated surfaces for high
reductions gives friction coefcients in the range m = 0.050.07.
Whether the coating is lubricated with MoDX or oil has no
signicant inuence.
Fig. 2. (A) Deposited SnZn alloy. (B) Coating after selective etching of Zn. (C) Porous
coating lubricated with oil. (D) Porous coating lubricated with grease.

3.2. Double cup extrusion test

In the initial ring compression tests, pure silver is chosen as

base material, since deposition on silver is expected to be a noncomplicated procedure. The stressstrain curve is determined by
uni-axial compression test and found to follow the Hollomon
expression: s = 295e0.27 [MPa]. The initial ring has the prescribed
ratio 6:3:2 between outer diameter (OD), inner diameter and
height, with OD = 15 mm. The rings are compressed between
overhanging tool steel planes (AISI M3:2 PM, 62 HRC) polished to a
surface roughness Ra = 0.03 mm. Height reductions are chosen as
20, 40 and 60%. Four different lubrication systems are tested: the
new, porous coating lubricated with Molykote DX paste (in the
following abbreviated MoDX) or mineral oil and the same
lubricants without any coating. The MoDX paste is a high viscosity
grease containing distilled, heavy naphthenic petroleum, lithium
soap, solid lubricants and additives in a parafnic base oil. The
mineral oil is made as a mixture of two oils, i.e. 50 wt.% Sunoco Sun
60 (low viscosity naphthenic mineral oil) and 50 wt.% Houghton
Plunger CR5 (high viscosity mineral oil). A resulting viscosity of
60 cSt at 40 8C is obtained. No boundary lubrication additives are
added to the oil.

A double cup extrusion test is carried out with high reduction to

stress the coating. The container and lower punch is kept
stationary. In case of zero friction along the container wall the
upper and lower cup will develop equally, i.e. hu/hl = 1, whereas
increased friction will enhance upwards ow implying larger cup
height ratio. The test principle is illustrated in Fig. 5. The diameter
of the container and billet is D0 = 27 mm and the reduction r = (DP/
D0)2 = 69%, where Dp is the punch diameter. The shape of the punch
nose is chosen according to the recommendations of ICFG [12]. The
height to diameter ratio of the billet is h0/D0 = 1. Punches as well as
container core are made in AISI M3:2 PM, hardened and tempered
to 62 HRC. They are polished to a surface roughness Ra = 0.1 mm.
Experiments are performed in the same pure silver as used for
the ring test with three different lubrication systems: the new
porous layer lubricated with (i) MoDX paste or (ii) oil or (iii) MoDX
added directly on a clean surface. The relative punch travel z/h0 is
aimed at 20, 40 and 60%. In Fig. 6, the experimental data is plotted
together with a set of calibration curves for the workpiece material
calculated by Deform1 2D. Some scatter is observed in the
experimental results, but it is evident that the coated specimens
lubricated with the mineral oil create low friction conditions
(m  0.05) whereas no effect of the coating can be identied when
lubricating with MoDX.
The promising results obtained in testing the new conversion
coating on silver specimens encouraged the authors to carry on
testing the coating on conventional cold forging steel comparing
with the conventional phosphate coating lubricated with soap as
The steel is a common unalloyed C-steel, Ma8, with the stress
strain curve determined by uni-axial compression test to:

Fig. 3. Cross-section and top view of porous coating.

Fig. 5. Principle of double cup extrusion test.

double cup extrusion test [11]. Both tests are based on the divided
ow principle, where the material ow is friction sensitive. As
earlier stated, the main purpose of the tribological system is to
avoid galling. A high reduction cup extrusion with large punch
stroke is therefore carried out to test the lubrication system under
severe conditions.
3.1. Ring compression test

M. Arentoft et al. / CIRP Annals - Manufacturing Technology 58 (2009) 243246


Fig. 6. Double cup extrusion tests of silver.

s = 640e0.21 [MPa]. The test design is similar to the one for the silver
specimens, i.e. a reduction r = (DP/D0)2 = 69%, a height to diameter
ratio of the slug h0/D0 = 1 and a container diameter D0 = 27 mm.
The relative punch stroke is aimed at z/h0 = 20, 40 and 60%.
Six different lubrication systems are tested: coated and noncoated with MoDX grease or mineral oil, conventional phosphating
or the new coating both lubricated with soap.
In Fig. 7, the inner wall of the upper cup is shown for the
maximum stroke obtained with various lubrications. As seen,
severe scoring due to galling appears for the non-coated parts,
whereas no scoring appears when applying conventional phosphate coating plus soap or the new coating plus any of the three
lubricants. Roughness measurements are carried out in circumferential direction on the inner cup wall with ls = 2.5 mm and
lc = 0.8 mm to quantify the amount of scoring as shown in Fig. 8. A
distance of 4 mm along the periphery is measured at three
different positions, i.e. 19, 20 and 21 mm from the top of the upper
cup. The Ra value is calculated as the average value of the three
measurements and can be used as an indicator for the level of
galling, but scoring is clearly visible from the roughness plot.
Smooth surfaces without any sign of galling are obtained for the
coated surfaces.
Due to severe galling, the friction test is not carried out on the
non-coated parts at larger punch strokes. In Fig. 9, the cup height
ratio hu/hl as a function of the relative punch stroke z/h0, is shown
for all six lubrication systems. Some scatter can be identied due to

Fig. 9. Cup height ratio vs. punch stroke for a double cup extrusion test for six
different lubrication systems.

the limited number of available test samples. It is, however, quite

clear, that the Sn-coated and soap lubricated specimens are at the
same level as the conventional phosphated and soap lubricated
ones. The Sn-coating lubricated with MoDX or oil show somewhat
higher cup height ratio indicating larger friction even though the
obtained surfaces are smoother than the soap lubricated ones as
shown in Fig. 8.
3.3. Single cup extrusion, galling test
To stress the lubrication system, a single cup extrusion with
high reduction r = (DP/D0)2 = 69% and large relative punch stroke z/
h0 = 0.75 is carried out with the same steel Ma8 as used for the
double cup extrusion tests. The height to diameter ratio of the slug
is kept at h0/D0 = 1. To avoid any inuence from previous testing,
the punch is polished between each experiment.
Four different lubrication systems are tested: Sn-coating
lubricated with (i) MoDX grease, (ii) mineral oil or (iii) soap and
(iv) conventional phosphating and soap lubrication.
The tests are carried out on a 2.5MN press with a speed of app.
50 mm/s. Fig. 10 shows the formed parts. The specimen Sn-coated
and lubricated with MoDX grease show severe scoring marks all
over the inner cup wall, whereas specimens with Sn-coating
lubricated with oil or with soap and phosphate coating plus soap
all result in smooth surfaces. This is further claried in Fig. 11,
showing roughness proles of the inner cup wall in circumferential
direction. The roughness is measured over a distance of 4 mm
along the periphery at three different positions, i.e. 19, 20 and
21 mm from the bottom of the cup. It is seen that the Sn-coated and
MoDX lubricated specimen has signicantly higher roughness than
the other specimens, which all lie on a rather constant level of
Ra  1.03 mm.
4. Discussion

Fig. 7. Double cup extrusion tests of unalloyed, low C-steel.

The ring compression test is due to low temperature, surface

expansion and sliding length considered a light deformation

Fig. 8. Roughness measurements on double cup test specimens.

Fig. 10. Single cup extrusion.


M. Arentoft et al. / CIRP Annals - Manufacturing Technology 58 (2009) 243246

5. Conclusion

Fig. 11. Roughness measurements, single cup extrusion.

process implying that the requirements to the lubrication system is

limited. At higher reductions the experimental results show that
the coated surfaces perform better than the non-coated. Whether
the lubricant is MoDX or mineral oil seems to have no inuence,
indicating that the coating is able to trap both lubricants and
establish the crucial lubrication reservoirs.
As regards the double cup extrusion tests the basic process
parameters: Normal pressure, sliding length and surface expansion
are on a level, where a well functioning lubrication system is needed.
Lubrication with MoDX, with or without Sn-coating is not able to
establish low friction conditions in forming of the silver and steel
Ma8 billets, whereas the Sn-coated parts lubricated with mineral oil
perform satisfactory on both materials. This indicates, that the low
viscosity mineral oil penetrates more efciently into the porous
structure of the Sn-coating and succeeds to provide the lubricant
required for the extrusion process, Fig. 2C. The high viscosity of the
MoDX grease does not allow for the same degree of absorption in the
porosities of the coating implying lubricant lm break down at an
early stage of the process, Fig. 2D. Lubrication of the phosphate
coating and the new Sn-coating with soap is applied by dipping in a
warm, aqueous Na-stearate bath with very low viscosity. It is
therefore expected, that the soap will be absorbed in a way similar to
the oil. At the highest punch stroke of z/h0 = 60%, the soap lubricated
specimens give lower cup height ratio and thereby lower friction
than the oil lubricated parts, Fig. 7. This may be explained by the
lower viscosity of oil than soap at room temperature, where
excessive oil will be squeezed out of the tool/workpiece interface
during the initial forming stage, whereas the soap stays as a solid
layer sticking to the billet ensuring good lubrication of the workpiece
asperities and complete lling of the lubricant pockets.
As stated earlier, low friction is important in order to achieve
low forming forces and thereby improve tool life, but the ability of
the lubrication system to impede galling is more important since
galling leads to costly interruptions of the production due to
required repolishing of the tools. The new Sn-coating lubricated
with MoDX, which performed acceptably although with somewhat
increased friction in double cup extrusion, resulted in lm
breakdown and galling in single cup extrusion with 75% punch
stroke and a reduction of 69%, whereas the Sn-coated billets
lubricated with oil or soap and the conventional phosphate coating
lubricated with soap all showed excellent performance with no
sign of galling. This is probably due to the larger viscosity as
illustrated in previous paragraph and in Fig. 2C and D.

A new lubricant carrier has been developed for solving

lubrication problems in severe cold forging processes avoiding
hazardous environmental impact. It is an electrochemically
deposited coating of two insoluble metals, of which one is
subsequently selectively etched in diluted acid to create a porous
layer acting as carrier of the lubricant. The system has been tested
in conventional ring compression tests and double cup extrusion
test. Its performance to impede galling has furthermore been
tested by severe stressing in single cup extrusion.
When lubricating with a low viscosity mineral oil, which can
penetrate into the porous coating, promising results are demonstrated with regards to signicantly lower friction as well as
increased resistance towards galling compared to non-coated
surfaces. When the coating is applied to a common cold forging
steel and lubricated with soap, the friction and resistance to
galling is at the same level or even better than the conventional
phosphate coating. An advantage of the new coating is the
expected improved environmental impact compared to the
phosphating process.
The authors would like to thank the Danish Ministry of Science,
Technology and Innovation for supporting the work by the
Innovation Consortium Mikrometal no.: 66334. Furthermore
the assistance by M.Sc. N.A. Paldan, Dr. S. Lassen and Dr. I.
Mizushima is appreciated.
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