What is penetrating oil?

Penetrating oils, also known as penetrants, are utilized to loosen or free up the fasteners, pipe couplings, and pulleys, among others that are stuck due to corrosion or rust.  The oils act as a key agent in the cleaning of the rusted surfaces of molds and dies present in heavy machineries. These oils leave a film on the metal, which is non-conductive and can be wiped with help of cloth or abrasive.

These penetrants have low viscosities that can penetrate in the pores of metal and displace any water present. These oils also provide a layer of protection against the moisture. The products include ingredients such as mixture of lubricants and a solvent, which in turn, decreases the viscosity and improves the mobility of the penetrating oil.

Is Penetrating Oil and Lubricating Oil Same?

There is a common confusion between lubricating and penetrating oil. Both of them serve different purposes. Lubricating oil helps in preventing and protecting the parts from the corrosion and also eliminates the squeaking noise that comes when metal parts rub against each other. However, penetrating oil can provide lubrication for a short duration of time.

What are the types of penetrating oil available in the market?

There are three types of penetrating oils, which are:

  • Straight oils

Penetrating oils, also known as straight oil or neat oil, can be used directly in the metalworking applications or machining process without diluting it. These oils are produced from petroleum- and vegetable-based oils and do not have water in them. Some of the advantages associated with straight oil are good lubrication, effective corrosion protection, sound stability, and anti-seizure quality. These oils are widely adopted in heavy machining operations or where the cutting is performed at lower speeds. Few examples of operations include deep hole drilling, gear hobbing, and gear grinding. However, they have some disadvantages such as poor cooling and high initial cost.
Straight oil constitutes of extreme pressure (EP) additives such as chlorine, phosphorus, and sulfur, which help improve the life and surface finish of the tools. The chlorine-based straight oil is more preferable for low-temperature medium duty machining operations while sulfur-based oil is utilized for heavy duty machining operations.  It is generally used in the applications where lubrication is more critical than heat-control.

  • Synthetic or Semi-synthetic fluids

Synthetic fluids are usually made by man-made compounds such as polyglycol, diesters, silicone, esters, and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).  These fluids are usually produced by breaking and rebuilding the petroleum molecules. As compared to conventional fluids, synthetic or semi-synthetic fluids provide higher performance on certain properties. This type of fluid has been widely used in the automotive industry. According to consumer reports, nearly 70% of the cars in 2019 used synthetic oil.

  • Emission/Water Soluble Fluids

Emulsion fluids or water soluble fluids are also called high water content fluids (HWCF). This penetrating oil type is diluted and its level of concentration goes up to 10%. It provides excellent cooling and lubrication and ideal for ferrous as well as non-ferrous metals. They have nearly invisible films, which can be removed easily by mild cleaners. These emulsion fluids are majorly used for heavy machineries, automotive, as well as food & beverage equipment. Moreover, it is generally utilized for the products that can be easily corroded due to harsh chemicals reactions or conditions.

Top Companies and Their Strategies & Developments

  • WD-40 Company

The American-based company has been one of the oldest companies in the penetrating oil market. It produces several products that are available in more than 176 countries and territories globally. The company reported USD 124.6 Million for its first fiscal quarter ended in November, 2020. WD-40 company is engaging in partnerships, collaborations, and sponsorships to expand its market share.
In November 2019, WD-40 Company introduced WD-40 Specialist Penetrant with Flexible Straw that helps in reaching areas such as hard to reach crevices and loosen up the parts that are stuck together.

  • Illinois Tool Work Inc. (ITW)

The US-based company manufactures fasteners, engineering components, and consumable systems.  ITW reported a revenue of USD 3.5 Billion in 2020. The company is focusing on building ecosystem that reduces emissions. For instance, it developed the ITW GSE 7400 ground power unit (GPU) that was equipped with battery power instead of using conventional diesel fuel.
As of February 2021, the company has many penetrants under the brand LPS. Some of the products are utilized as heavy duty lubricant and food grade machine & penetrating oil. On the other hand, its LPS brand has LST penetrant extending applications including bolts & nuts, corrode fasteners, plumbing fixtures, and gears & cogs.

  • Calumet Specialty Products Partners, L.P.

The company is a prominent producer of white oil solvents, lubricating oil, waxes, and other products that are used in automotive and industrial components. According to its website, Calumet Specialty Products, L.P. has over 3,400 products, 10 production facilities, and its services in more than 90 countries.
The American company completed the acquisition of Paralogics, LLC., a producer of industrial wax blends, in 2020. In February 2021, the company announced the plans of producing renewable diesel in Great Walls, Montana.

Other industry players of the market include Chemetall, OKS Spezialschmierstoffe, Anti-Seize Technology, Rocol, Lubrication Engineers, Setral Chemie, Recoil, LPS Laboratories, Electrolube, Anti-Seize Technology, Whitmore, Miller-Stephenson, and 3-IN-ONE.

Companies are now focusing on the development of eco-friendly penetrates to leverage their market position. For instance, Chemetall introduced water-based penetrant Britemor (W) that can be used on both ferrous and non-ferrous metals. The water in the penetrant is stabilized by micro-emulsion technology.

Impact of COVID-19 to the Market

The COVID-19 pandemic had adversely impacted the automotive industry owing to the restriction imposed on all types of manufacturing facilities across the globe. However, the market is slowly recovering as government state bodies are slowly relaxing the restriction in the manufacturing space. Moreover, industry players are now focusing on the deployment of technologies to reduce the burden on human in the manufacturing facilities.

Penetrating Oil Market Trends & Analysis

As per the detailed report published by Growth Market Reports (GMR), the global penetrating oil market was valued at USD 193 Million in 2019 and is anticipated to reach USD 255.7 Million by 2027, expanding at a sustainable CAGR of 3.3% during the forecast period, 2020-2027. The growing awareness and penetration of penetrating oil in various industries is driving the growth of the market.

One of the major concerns this market is witnessing is the presence of alternatives; for instance, polyurethane can be used as an alternative to the penetrates. However, polyurethane contains petroleum-derived components, which is hazardous to environment. This, in turn, has encouraged industry players to invest in the development of eco-friendly/green oil products.

On the basis of types, the penetrating market is segmented into industrial grade and food grade. The industrial segment dominated the market in 2019, and is anticipated to continue the trend during the forecast period. In terms of oils/fluids, the market is segregated into straight oils, synthetic or semi-synthetic fluids, and emulsion/water soluble fluids. The emulsion/water soluble fluids segment accounted for 44.1% share of the market in 2019, and is speculated to grow at a robust CAGR in the coming years.

On the basis of distribution channels, the market is bifurcated into online and offline. The offline segment dominated the share of the market in 2019, in terms of revenue. This segment is anticipated to continue the dominance in the foreseeable future. By end-users, the market is categorized as automotive, construction, food & beverage, marine, agriculture, military, and others.  The automotive segment accounted for a large share of the market in 2019, and is expected to grow at a healthy rate during the forecast period. On the other hand, the construction segment is expected to witness sustainable growth in the coming years.

Which Region Is Expected to Lead the Penetrating Oil Market?

The penetrating oil market is categorized on the basis of regions such as North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa, and Latin America. North America accounted for 38.3% of the global market in 2019, in terms of revenue. Increasing demand for automobiles owing to the rising purchasing power is driving the growth of the market in region. The presence of major auto manufacturers is positively influence the growth of the North American market. Additionally, the rising population and growing food demand are boosting the growth of the food & beverage industry in countries such as the US and Canada. Furthermore, the rising investment of the government bodies in the afore-mentioned countries on the military & defense industry is expected to stimulate the growth of the market in this region.

The market in Asia Pacific is anticipated to expand at a high CAGR during the forecast period. Government bodies in countries such as India and China are taking initiatives to boost the manufacturing industry. This, in turn, has increased the foreign direct investments (FDIs) in these emerging economies, which in turn, is rising the production of automobiles, construction materials, food & beverages. Furthermore, the low manufacturing and labor countries in these economies is further propelling the growth of the Asia Pacific market.