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Roller-cone bits are generally used to drill a wide variety of formations, from very soft to very hard. Milled-tooth (or steel-tooth) bits are typically used for drilling relatively soft formations. Tungsten carbide inserts bits (TCI or button bits) are used in a wider range of formations, including the hardest and most abrasive drilling applications (see Figure 1). Figure 1--Different bit types (from left to right: PDC, TCI, and milled-tooth bits).
Wide varieties of roller cone bits are available. They provide optimum performance in specific formations and/or particular drilling environments. Modern drill bits incorporate significantly different cutting structures and use vastly improved materials, resulting in improved bit efficiency. Manufacturers work closely with drilling companies to collect information about their bits to identify opportunities for design improvements. To achieve these goals, bit designers consider several factors. Replace this text with a brief (3-4 lines) introduction to what is covered on this page. Replace header name above, then begin creating your text in place of this text. To make subheads to this heading, use the Heading level 3 style from the drop down.
The bearing, seal, and lubrication systems of a roller cone bit are important aspects of bit life and efficiency. Roller cone bearing systems are designed to be in satisfactory operating condition when the cutting structure of the bit is worn out. To achieve this standard of bearing performance, modern goals for seal and bearing system life are 1 million or more revolutions of a bit without failure, as opposed to 300,000 or fewer in the recent past. To achieve this goal, research into bearing, seal, and lubricant designs and into materials that improve seal and bearing life is ongoing. Roller-cone bits primarily use two types of bearings: roller bearings and journal bearings, sometimes called friction bearings.
Polycrystalline diamond materials, for use in polycrystalline diamond compact (PDC) bits, are one of the most important material advances for oil drilling tools in recent years. Fixed-head bits rotate as one piece and contain no separately moving parts. When fixed-head bits use PDC cutters, they are commonly called PDC bits. Since their first production in 1976, the popularity of bits using PDC cutters has grown steadily, and they are nearly as common as roller-cone bits in many drilling applications. The two provide significantly different capabilities, and, because both types have certain advantages, a choice between them would be decided by the needs of the application.
The shape of a Polycrystalline Diamond Compact (PDC) bit body is called its profile. It is also the principal influence on bit productivity and stability. The geometry established by the profile contributes to hydraulic flow efficiency across the bit face. Hydraulic flows directly influence ROP through the cuttings removal they provide. If cuttings are removed as rapidly as they are produced, ROP will be relatively higher.
Principles for Polycrystalline Diamond Compact (PDC) bit design are discussed here. Each of these factors must be considered on an application-to-application basis to ensure achievement of rate of penetration (ROP) goals during cooling, cleaning the bit, and removing cuttings efficiently. During design, all factors are considered simultaneously. Cutting structures must provide adequate bottomhole coverage to address formation hardness, abrasiveness, and potential vibrations and to satisfy productive needs. Early (1970s) PDC bits incorporated elementary designs without waterways or carefully engineered provisions for cleaning and cooling.