Wherever there is friction between two moving surfaces, there is also wear. And although friction is extremely important for machines with moving parts to function properly, you still want to reduce it to a minimum, in order to lessen the wear of the two moving parts that are grinding against each other. To do that, you need to use an industrial lubricant or grease. One big misconception is that all lubricants are the same. But just like you wouldn’t use a coolant instead of engine oil, you can’t use an automotive lubricant instead of industrial grease.
That being said, when buying industrial grease, you need to consider the application you’ll use it for. One of the most important attributes of industrial lubricants is their viscosity, which is necessary to achieve optimum lubrication. However, there are countless industrial lubricants that have a similar viscosity, which is why you have to pay attention to their structure. The structure is what makes lubricants different from one another and more effective for specific functions. Although the base structure of lubricants is similar, there are different additives added into the mix.
For instance, most lubricants contain anti-wear additives, and they have properties that help cool, lubricate and protect. However, some industrial gears heat up more than others, so they need stronger cooling properties, while other gears work under extremely high pressure, so they need extra protection properties. Additionally, some gears are constantly exposed to contaminants, like water and dirt, meaning they need a lubricant that protects against them. Industrial lubricants are typically separated in a couple of categories, including extreme pressure lubricants, synthetic lubricants, synthetic extreme pressure lubricants, food grade lubricants, compound gear lubricants, and Polyglycol lubricants.
Extreme pressure lubricants feature additives that are necessary for heavily-loaded gearboxes. The additives protect the teeth from localized corrosion that oftentimes leads to system failure. These lubricants shouldn’t be used in applications that don’t need extreme pressure additives. Synthetic lubricants are used where protection from sludge formation and wear is necessary, but extreme pressure protection isn’t needed.
Synthetic Polyglycol lubricants don’t contain petroleum and they’re the ideal lubrication choice for copper, brass and bronze components. However, they shouldn’t be used on gears made of aluminum-bronze alloys. Furthermore, compound gear lubricants are generally used with industrial worm gears that need higher viscosity lubrication. Lastly, food-grade lubricants are specifically made for use in gear drives that operate in beverage and food processing plants, where incidental food contact is possible.