Every year, more than 18 million tons of lubricants enter the environment, creating health and contamination problems
Various approaches are available to lower this total. Minimum quantity lubrication systems seek to reduce lubricant use by delivering precisely the amount needed at the cutting edge of tools. Another possibility is a switch to bio-lubricants derived from vegetable oils. A third approach, cryogenic machining, reduces lubricant consumption by using through-tool liquid nitrogen. Since each solution has advantages and disadvantages, reuse and recycling may be the best short-term response. Ultimately, 3D printing and other innovative technologies could change the game entirely.