Supplier profile

Advanced metalforming lubricants


Specialist in lubricants, Irmco is a global company driven to improve the metal forming/stamping industry, and provides all over the world a tangible value and an improved output quality, metal forming, assembly, cleaning, finishing, and environmental results.

Irmco is a family owned, 4th generation lubricant manufacturer based in USA, Evanston, IL. The company has been engineering metalworking lubricants for 99 years and it will be celebrating its 100 year anniversary in 2014. As the only company in the world focused exclusively on press-working and tube bending lubricants, Irmco continues to develop a line of oil free products focused on sustainable and green technology. The company invented the non-oil category over 30 years ago, and no others have spent as much time or resources on improving an industry through advanced metal forming lubricant technology. Irmco is so widely recognized as the industry leader in new technology development and has routinely demonstrated its ability to replace oil-based chemicals in some of the most critical metal forming operations. «We achieve this – points out Franco Lignetto, ‎board director at Irmco Europe BV – by providing LeanGreen® non-oil metal-forming fluids and gels as well as by offering engineering services to help optimizing more than 80 manufacturing, assembly, and environmental areas to some of the largest industrial companies in the world. We have been focusing on green technology and selling product in over 35 countries». Over the years the company has seen the need to have a much bigger global presence in ?? able to serve companies with multiple plant locations. It ships products globally to manufacturers that make critical components in automotive, light and heavy duty trucks, exhaust systems, seating, class “A” trim, aircraft, turf maintenance equipment, recreational vehicles, motorcycles, appliances, pressure vessels, and other manufactured products.

Less lubricants, greener technology and quality

Franco Lignetto, ‎board director at IRMCO Europe BV.

In the niche that Irmco serves there is a tremendous opportunity to help reducing costs while bringing a greener, lubricant technology to the Oem and Tier 1 stamping shops. «Our thin films – says Lignetto – have the ability to protect tooling with 50% less lubricant, so you can cut application waste and housekeeping needs. In most cases, you can also remove our lubricants with plain water or mild alkaline cleaner, reducing chemical, water, and energy use by up to 75%. In addition, our oil-free surfaces improve the conditions for welding and assembly. In fact, studies using Mig, Tig, and resistance welding techniques have proven that, in many cases, you are able to reduce washing demands prior to welding with our lubricants». In 1996, the research and development laboratory was renamed the Arthur E. Dampts Research and Development Center in honor of its previous director’s thirty years of innovative product development and creative problem solving. A renewed commitment to product development research in that same year led to a rebirth of Irmco and a realignment of corporate strategy. In 1997, the company unveiled a new corporate tagline: Advanced Lubricant Technologies, to emphasize its dedication to new product research and development. «Today Irmco’s R&D Center – adds Lignetto – has expanded to include Greenleaf Technologies, a friction and formability research service, and has carried forward the tradition of scientific discovery and market value with an ever-evolving line of new products». Among its portfolio of subsequent groundbreaking products has been IRMCO FLUIDS®, IRMCO GEL® (the first water-based tube bending paste), IRMCO EXTREME® and IRMCO FLUIDS® High Strength Formula, a high performance chemistry engineered to control the high heat and friction generated from the new demands of advanced and ultra high strength steel forming.

LeanGreen metal forming

On average, a tube bender uses a significant amount of lube per bend on a car exhaust tube resulting in waste and a messy environment. Focusing on the correct production technology and application for mandrel bending results in an average of 75% savings and a cleaner workplace for IRMCO customers.

Environmentally sustainable practices are a natural extension of lean operational philosophies and techniques. Today’s successful metal forming companies need to partner with suppliers who focus on tangible business improvement and the financial outcome of their client. But they must also not lose sight of the environmental impact their product may also have, thus supporting both a lean and green value stream.  «This is how Irmco – points out Lignetto – defines “LeanGreen metal forming.” Being the first in industry to actually use such a phrase and ultimately being awarded the trademark, it’s what we do better than anyone else in our industry. Eliminating more than 10 million gallons of oil based lubricants doesn’t happen by accident. It takes careful discipline and attention to detail. It takes a team of dedicated associates who are focused on the “total cost” picture and eliminating waste of all kinds. In our case it means not just focusing on the lubricant use but, above all, what lubricant can and cannot do to the cost of the secondary operations». What’s great about all this is that green technology can in fact be the most high-performing, cost effective and economic value added option out there. «Think of us – concludes Lignetto – as part tribologist, part chemical engineer and part accountant. Not your average lubricant company».

Expertise in lubricant logistics, mixing and application

Lifetime Achievement Award for Developing the World’s First Oil Free Stamping Lubricant, (from left): Frank Kenny, promoted to Vice President after guiding the company’s R&D effort for the last 12 years; Arthur E Dampts; Jeff Jeffery, CEO at IRMCO

Irmco is known for inventing and innovating high performance lubricants and has also developed know how and a world class expertise in lubricant logistics, mixing and application. What’s key here is that the company believes that more is not actually better. It doesn’t either use more to cover up poor performance or waste product to boost sales. The company believes controlled application with the proper delivery equipment is the right thing to do. Irmco designs, sources, programs and monitors automated fluid delivery, storage and application systems. Bulk fluid inventory is also measured 24/7 via a remote monitoring system to insure proper inventory levels. The engineering’s team develops both roll coater and spray systems or a combination of both. In other words, the focus is working with the best equipment companies to produce the most efficient engineered solutions.