The Refractometer: Why It Matters to My Sawing Operation<h2> Ask an Expert with Andy Attaway
In Andy’s second appearance on the blog, he talked us through the importance of refractometers to band sawing operations.
The Refractometer, and Why Should I Know About It
When one first hears the word refractometer, you might assume it came out of some sort of science fiction novel. In fact, you wouldn’t be far off because refractometers are widely used by scientists to measure the index of refraction. But, manufacturers also commonly use them for the same purpose. If this all sounds like mumbo-jumbo, don’t worry. We asked one of our experts, Andy Attaway, to explain why this device is so important to any sawing operation.
“Metal Sawing Technology uses the same refractometers as people in the wine and beer industry,” Attaway explained. Refractometers are used to measure and regulate cutting fluid. These tools measure how much light is propagated through a medium – in our case, a liquid. This measurement uses 0-10 BRIX scale, and the liquid’s score on that scale will tell you if you have the proper coolant to water ratio for your cutting fluids.
How Does the Refractometer Work?
Refractometers come in many shapes and sizes but the ones that MST uses are handheld and easy to get the hang of after proper training. Here’s what it looks like:
There are three steps to using a refractometer.
1. Calibrate the refractometer. Take a few drops of water onto the prism and look in. The top of the line should be blue and and the level should be “0”. If it doesn’t, there are little screws that let you calibrate the refractometer.
2. Add your coolant. Make sure you get the coolant sample from where it comes out – not the reservoir. The coolant in the reservoir may be unsettled and can alter the reading. Once your coolant is in place, wait 30 seconds to take your reading. That way, so the liquid will be at the proper temperature.
3. Take the reading. Once you have the reading, which should be on a 0-10 scale, multiply your reading by the index of refraction, which will vary from coolant to coolant. Once you do, you’ll know how much coolant is present and if you need to alter the ratios. For example, if your refractometer reading was five and your refraction index was three, your result would be fifteen. Then, you’d know that your coolant is too rich and you’d add more water.
why Refractometers Are Valuable >
Refractometers are wonderful ways to help improve your shop’s efficiency by improving the blade and coolant life. By maintaining proper ratios of cutting fluids, you ensure that you aren’t using too much coolant, wasting more than necessary, or not using enough coolant. It’s a good way to avoid damaging the blade and causing costly repairs, or even outright replacement. If you work in extreme climate, using a refractometer is a valuable way to make sure you don’t loose any coolant to evaporation.