Drilling Bit Type

Drilling bit type usually has a different function. there is a reason so many factory support drilling jobs with different drilling bit.

There are basically three types of drilling bit

  • Drag Bits
  • Roller Cone Bits
  • Diamond Bits

Drag bits were the first bits used in rotary drilling but are no longer in common use. A drag bit consists of rigid steel blades shaped like a fish-tail which rotate as a single unit. These simple designs were used up to 1900 to successfully drill through soft formations. The introduction of hard facing to the surface of the blades and the design of fluid passageways greatly improved its performance. Due to the dragging/scraping action of this type of bit, high RPM and low WOB are applied.

The decline in the use of drag bits was due to:
• The introduction of roller cone bits, which could drill soft formations more efficiently
• If too much WOB was applied, excessive torque led to bit failure or drill pipe failure
• Drag bits tend to drill crooked hole, therefore some means of controlling deviation was required
• Drag bits were limited to drilling through uniformly, soft, unconsolidated formations where there were no hard abrasive layers.

Drilling bit type

Types of drilling bit (figure 1)

Roller Cone Bits “Drilling bit”

Roller cone bits (or rock bits) are still the most common type of bit used world wide. The cutting action is provided by cones which have either steel teeth or tungsten carbide inserts. These cones rotate on the bottom of the hole and drill hole predominantly with a grinding and chipping action. Rock bits are classified as milled tooth bits or insert bits depending on the cutting surface on the cones (Figure 2 and 3).
The first successful roller cone bit was designed by Hughes in 1909. This was a major innovation since it allowed rotary drilling to be extended to hard formations. The first design was a 2 cone bit which frequently balled up since the teeth on the cones did not mesh. This led to the introduction of a superior design in the 1930s which had 3 cones with meshing teeth. The same basic design is still in use today although there have been many improvements over the years.
The cones of the 3 cone bit are mounted on bearing pins, or arm journals, which extend from the bit body. The bearings allow each cone to turn about its own axis as the bit is rotated. The use of 3 cones allows an even distribution of weight, a balanced cutting structure and drills a better gauge hole than the 2 cone design. The major advances in rock bit design since the introduction of the Hughes rock bit

  • Improved cleaning action by using jet nozzles
  • Using tungsten carbide for hard facing and gauge protection
  • The introduction of sealed bearings to prevent the mud causing premature failure due to abrasion and corrosion of the bearings. The elements of a roller cone bit are shown in detail in Figure 4.
Milled tooth bit "drilling bit type"

Milled tooth bit (figure 2)

Insert bit

Insert bit (figure 3)

Diamond Bits “Drilling bit”

Diamond has been used as a material for cutting rock for many years. Since it was first used however, the type of diamond and the way in which it is set in the driling bit have changed.

Natural Diamond Bits

The hardness and wear resistance of diamond made it an obvious material to be used for a drilling bit. The diamond bit is really a type of drag bit since it has no moving cones and operates as a single unit. Industrial diamonds have been used for many years in drill bits and in core heads (Figure 1).

The cutting action of a diamond bit is achieved by scraping away the rock. The diamonds are set in a specially designed pattern and bonded into a matrix material set on a steel body. Despite its high wear resistance diamond is sensitive to shock and vibration and, therefore, great care must be taken when running a diamond bit.
Effective fluid circulation across the face of the bit is also very important to prevent overheating of the diamonds and matrix material and to prevent the face of the bit becoming smeared with the rock cuttings (bit balling).
The major disadvantage of diamond bits is their cost (sometimes 10 times more expensive than a similar sized rock bit). There is also no guarantee that these bits will achieve a higher ROP than a correctly selected roller cone bit in the same formation.
They are however cost effective when drilling formations where long rotating hours (200-300 hours per bit) are required. Since diamond bits have no moving parts they tend to last longer than roller cone bits and can be used for extremely long bit runs.
This results in a reduction in the number of round trips and offsets the capital cost of the bit. This is especially important in areas where operating costs are high (e.g. offshore drilling). In addition, the diamonds of a diamond bit can be extracted, so
that a used bit does have some salvage value.

PDC Bits

A new generation of diamond bits known as polycrystalline diamond compact (PDC) bits were introduced in the 1980’s (Figure 5). These bits have the same advantages and disadvantages as natural diamond bits but use small discs of synthetic diamond to provide the scraping cutting surface. The small discs may be manufactured in any size and shape and are not sensitive to failure along cleavage
planes as with natural diamond. PDC bits have been run very successfully in many areas around the world. They have been particularly successful (long bit runs and high ROP) when run in combination with turbodrills and oil based mud.

TSP Bits

A further development of the PDC bit concept was the introduction in the later 1980’s of the Thermally Stable Polycrystalline (TSP) diamond drilling bit. These bits are manufactured in a similar fashion to PDC bits but are tolerant of much higher
temperatures than PDC bits.

element of rock rock bit or rock bit component

Elements of a rock bit (figure 4)


Polycrystalline Compact (PDC) Bits

PDC Bits (Figure 5)

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