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February 10th , 2021

How advanced lubrication solutions can help machine shops slide their way into the lead

Machine shop owners are under pressure across-the-board. Lead times continue to reduce, the demand for machining accuracy has never been higher and regulatory requirements are adding complexity to to-day-day operations. Firms are feeling besieged from all directions, but maintaining an effective operation in the face of all these challenges is essential if business objectives are to be achieved. Part of the answer to safeguarding cutting accuracy and shop floor productivity is to ensure machinery is properly maintained and operating at peak efficiency, which requires the deployment of high performance lubricants. However, for machine shop operators, it’s not that simple.

Lubrication plays an integral role in reducing friction between rotating and moving components in a manufacturing plant. Indeed, in most applications, this is an oil’s main purpose, helping increase equipment availability, component quality and production uptime. Machine tools, however, demand a very different approach. To lubricate horizontal and vertical slideways, for example, simply reducing friction isn’t enough. Specifically-engineered lubricants are required to ensure smooth and controlled movement. Critically, the compatibility of this slideway oil with other lubricants in the machine tool can also have a significant effect on overall productivity.

This article explores the merits of premium-quality slideway oils, and how selecting the right formulation can help operators achieve their business goals.

Frictional Control

Slideway lubricants are intended to reduce friction, prevent wear and provide long-term protection against corrosion and rust. Without optimum frictional control, a condition known as ‘stick-slip’ can occur. This abnormal movement between slider and slideway can quickly depreciate the surface finish and quality of components, impacting tool life, causing excessive wear and long-lasting critical equipment damage. Smooth and precise movement on the slideway requires special attention to a lubricant’s frictional properties.

Fortunately, premium-quality slideway lubricants such as Mobil Vactra™ are an effective remedy for the stick-slip phenomenon. Engineered specifically for sensitive machine tool slideways, Mobil Vactra has been meticulously researched, tested and updated. It features a unique blend of additives, which work in synergy to adhere to the surface and ensure smooth transitions from static to dynamic frictional control. These properties offer maintenance professionals enhanced precision machining and tool life.

Compatibility with Aqueous Coolants

Many slideway oils have not been formulated to separate readily from aqueous coolants. This often creates ‘tramp oil’ on the surface of the coolant sump in the machine tool, compromising its effectiveness by shortening its service life. Excess surface tramp oil promotes bacterial growth, resulting in foul odour, sticky deposits and potential health and safety concerns for operators. To ensure that machine tools run smoothly, therefore, it is important to choose the right combination of premium quality slideway oil and aqueous cutting fluid. Mobil Vactra has been engineered to offer excellent separability between itself and a wide range of coolant types, including milky, micro-emulsion and fully-synthetic products. This enhanced compatibility supports long coolant life, avoids foul smells and enables optimal machining precision. By reducing the problems associated with cross-contamination, Mobil Vactra offers extended fluid life, easier waste management, reduced maintenance costs and an improved working environment.

Proven performance in the field

One of our longest-standing Mobil Vactra customers is from the Pays de La Loire region in France where they are running 160 machine tools using the product. “We have been using Mobil Vactra 2 for more than 30 years,” said the operator. “A few years ago, in an attempt to reduce costs, a cheaper slideway oil from another brand was deployed. Following the switch, we were quickly confronted with many problems including soapy deposit formations, which clogged cooling circuits. A return to the widespread use of Mobil Vactra 2 quickly eliminated these issues and saw a return to better performance levels. Given the time spent managing problems related to the use of the inferior quality product, this expense will no longer be called into question.” *

Backed by Builder Endorsements

But don’t just take Mobil’s word for it. Ask the machine tool builders. The technology behind Mobil Vactra is endorsed or approved by leading builders all over the world. Some even preferentially or exclusively endorse its use in their equipment. The products in the Series meet the DIN 51502 CGLP specification and, depending on the viscosity, the Fives Cincinnati approval. Always check your machine tool manual before final selection.

Insights are everything

Collaboration can be the key to finding new sources of competitive edge in a challenging business climate. Mobil’s Field Engineering team is highly skilled in working with machine shop operators to develop tailored Mobil™ lubrication solutions that offer peace-of-mind at every stage of production. This includes access to insights from a comprehensive range of specialist services, including Mobil ServSM Lubricant Analysis.

To find out more about our full range of solutions for machine shops and assembly plants visit or contact

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