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SPE/IADC 79795

Classification of PDC bits According to their Steerability
S. Menand, SPE, and H. Sellami, SPE, Ecole des Mines de Paris/Armines, C. Simon, DrillScan
Copyright 2003, SPE/IADC Drilling Conference
This paper was prepared for presentation at the SPE/IADC Drilling Conference held in
Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 19–21 February 2003.
This paper was selected for presentation by an SPE/IADC Program Committee following
review of information contained in an abstract submitted by the author(s). Contents of the
paper, as presented, have not been reviewed by the Society of Petroleum Engineers or the
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Abstract
With the emergence of rotary steerable systems, the technical
issue concerning the bit design for a specific directional
application has reappeared. Today, a bit must be specifically
designed for use with a particular directional system : rotary
bottom hole assembly (BHA), steerable mud motor or rotary
steerable system (RSS). The reason is that the bit must have
the ability to respond properly and rapidly to a side force
applied by the steering system in order to initiate a deviation
as requested. To do so, the bit must have a predetermined
steerability compatible with the directional system in order to
provide the optimum dog leg potential.
The new generation of directional drilling systems
differentiates “pointing the bit" from "pushing the bit". As a
consequence, the bit directional response is a key factor that
operators and directional drillers need to know to make the
good adaptation between the bit and the BHA. However
at the moment, there is no standard method that can propose
a way to classify bits according to their steerability and
walking tendency.
Based on a comprehensive analysis of the directional behavior
of polycrystalline diamond compact (PDC) bits (numerical
simulation, pilot and field tests), a simple methodology has
been developed in order to define and evaluate the steerability
and the walking tendency of PDC bits. This methodology is
used to classify the PDC bits defined with their IADC bit
profile codes.
As the PDC bit steerability is mainly a function of the bit
profile, the gage cutters and the gage pad, some design
recommendations are given concerning these three parts. For
each IADC bit profile code, the bit steerability and the
walking tendency is estimated through some formulas linking

only the heights and lengths of the cutting profile. Some
guidelines are also given about the gage pad length
and gage cutters characteristics in order to achieve
improved steerability.
This simple method based on geometrical criteria enables to
estimate quickly not only the PDC bit steerability, but also the
maximum dog leg potential achievable by the PDC bit, when
coupled with the steering system.
Introduction
It is well recognized today that the directional behaviour of a
drilling system is a complex coupling between the bit
directional responsiveness and the mechanical behaviour of
the directional system, but one also bears in mind a possible
rock formation effect1 (anisotropy). This paper is focused on
the directional behaviour of PDC bits, characterized by their
walk tendency and steerability.
After having noticed in a previous paper2 that the bit
steerability and walking tendency were mainly a function of
the bit profile, gage cutters and gage pad characteristics, we
propose in this paper to use a simple methodology to classify
PDC bits defined with their IADC bit profile codes (figure 1).
This methology is based on a recent study on the directional
behavior of PDC bits based on theoretical models, numerical
simulation, as well as pilot and field trials3.
Background
Definition
The directional behaviour of a PDC bit is generally
characterized by its walk tendency and steerability. To
quantify the walk tendency, Ho4 introduced for PDC bits the
walk angle, which is the angle measured in a plane
perpendicular to the bit axis, between the direction of the side
force applied to the bit and the direction of the lateral
displacement of the bit2. The walk angle quantifies the
intrinsic azimuthal behaviour of the PDC bit.
The bit steerability (BS) corresponds to the ability of the bit,
submitted to lateral and axial forces, to initiate a lateral
deviation. The bit steerability can be defined as the ratio of the
lateral drillability over the axial drillability :

BS = Dlat
Dax

(1)

2

SPE/IADC 79795

The lateral drillability (Dlat) is defined as the lateral
displacement per bit revolution over the side force. The axial
drillability (Dax) is the axial penetration per bit revolution over
the weight on bit (WOB). The BS (equivalent to the bit
anisotropic index5,4) is generally in the range of 0.001 to 0.1
for most PDC bits, depending on the cutting profile, gage
cutters and gage pad characteristics, as evaluated in the
present paper. High steerability for a bit implies a strong
propensity for lateral deviation, enabling to obtain a maximum
dog leg potential.
Bit design
Besides the fact that the PDC bit should evidently have some
stabilization and durability requirements, it should have the
ability to respond properly and rapidly to a side force applied
by the steering system in order to initiate a deviation as
requested. To do so, the PDC bit must have a steerability
compatible with the directional system. The design of the bit
should consider the three parts (figure 2) which interact with
the rock formation : the cutting structure (mainly cutting
profile and back rake angle), the active gage (gage cutters or
trimmers) and passive gage (conventionally called gage pad).

isotropic (responsive in any direction). Even though these
general rules are helpful for selecting PDC bits, it is known
that the directional behaviour of a PDC bit is not the only
parameter in the well deviation process2. Moreover, the bit
steerability depends not only on the bit profile, but also on the
gage characterictics (gage cutters and gage pad).
Barton5 made some numerical simulations on different bit
profiles to calculate the anisotropic index (equivalent to the bit
steerability BS). The author has observed that the steerability
increases as the length of the taper decreases, and that flat bit
profiles produce the highest anisotropic index.
Back rake angle
Some contradictions between authors exist about the rule of
the back rake angle in the bit steerability. Some authors6
recommend to choose an aggressive back rake (low angle) to
reduce steerability and a less aggressive back rake (high angle)
to improve the bit’s steerability. Barton5 observed from
numerical simulations that the anisotropic index of a particular
bit profile decreased by 8% when the back rake angle was
increased from 20° to 30°, meaning that the bit is less
steerable with a high back rake angle.

Cutting profile
A recent study2 has shown that the steerability of a PDC
cutting structure depends greatly on the bit profile : the flatter
the profile is, the more steerable the bit profile is. The authors
found also that the walk angle of a PDC cutting structure can
be approximated by a simple equation linking the inner cone
depth C, the outer structure height G and the PDC back rake
angle (ωc)2 :

α CS = arctan

2(C −G)
tan(ωc +θ f ) (C +G)

(2)

Eq. 2 is only appropriate for bits having identical back rake
angles along the bit profile, and indicates that the walk
tendency (right, neutral and left) of the cutting structure is
defined through the inner cone depth C and the outer structure
height G:
-

G > C : left walking tendency,
G ≈ C : neutral walking tendency,
G < C : right walking tendency.

Note that it is easy to extend Eq. 2 to take into account a
gradual increase of the back rake from the inner cone to
the gage.
O’Hare et al 6 conducted a study to evaluate the directional
responsiveness of various bit profiles that were classified
according to the IADC codes. The authors give some
guidelines on IADC bit profile codes to measure the bit’s
tendency to achieve particular build and walk rates. For
example, deep coned PDC bits (IADC bit profile types 1, 4
and 7) tend to be directionally stable, and single cone bits
(IADC bit profile types 6 and 9) tend to be directionally

In fact, when the back rake angle changes, the lateral and axial
drillabilities do not change respectively in the same
proportion. The axial drillability being more affected by a
back rake angle change, the bit steerability (ratio of the lateral
drillability over the axial drillability) thus increases when the
back rake angle increases.
Gage cutters
The general perception is that the steerability of the bit
increases with the number of gage cutters6 (or trimmers). This
statement is in contradiction with a recent study2 that showed
that, for three different bit profiles, the highest steerability was
observed for the bit having fewer gage cutters. However,
despite improved steerability, diminishing the number of gage
cutters may cause the bit to lose gage, due to higher load per
gage cutter7.
The active gage formed by the PDCs truncated at bit diameter,
constitutes the transition zone between the cutting structure
and the passive gage. On most designs, these trimmers are
preflatted and provide two contact surfaces with the rock, a
cutting face and a frictional surface (figure 3). New designs5
involve full round cylinder PDC cutters (instead of
conventional preflatted gage cutters) reducing the friction
surface with the borehole and thus increasing the lateral
cutting ability of the design. The side cutting ability of an
active gage depends greatly on the total friction surface
involved during the cutting process. The higher the friction
surface is (great number of preflatted trimmers or wear on
gage cutters), the less steerable the bit is. The reason is that to
penetrate the side of the borehole, an amount of side force
corresponding to the friction forces generated on the friction
surface has to be consumed before a lateral penetration of the
bit occurs.

SPE/IADC 79795

Gage pad
Very often the critical and controversial factor for the PDC bit
selection is gage length5,7,8,9. What gage length should be
selected ? The general perception is that long gage is not
favourable to deviate a well, and that a conventional short and
aggressive gage (less than 1.5-in.) is often preferred to provide
side cutting ability. These short gage designs may lead to
poor borehole quality, with irregularities, ledges and hole
spiraling10,11. On the contrary, long gage designs prevent hole
spiraling and bit whirl with improved stability and produce a
perfect hole quality, but to the detriment of side cutting ability.
Nevertheless, recent studies have shown that good steerability
could be obtained even with a long gage bit with an
appropriate placement of stabilizer, bend angle and motor
distance12 in the case of steerable BHA and also “point-thebit” systems used generally with an extended gage bit.
The design of a gage pad for a rotary steerable system depends
on the principle of the drilling system : “point-the-bit” or
“push-the-bit”. Generally, a short gage is used as standard for
the “push-the-bit” systems, although a long gage is preferred
for the “point-the-bit” systems, requiring less side
cutting action13.
Synthesis
It emerges from these last considerations that there does not
yet exist any quantified guidelines for optimization and
selection of bit steerability. Even though the directional
behaviour of a drilling system is a complex coupling between
the directional system and the bit, it is well accepted that the
steerability of the bit plays a great role in the deviation
process. That is why we have developed a simple
methodology to estimate the steerability of the bit, through its
profile and gages. We propose also in the following paragraph
a classification of PDC bit profiles according to their
steerability, and some guidelines for gage design.
Methodology
Geometrical description
The cutting structure of a PDC bit (see figure 2) defines the
cutting profile which can be divided into two parts according
to the IADC Classification14: the inner cone (height C) and the
outer structure (height G). Let’s define LIC and LOG the lengths
of the inner cone and the outer structure profile, ωcC and ωcG
the average back rake angle respectively. LC and LG are the
lengths that locate the position of the nose from the bit axis
(figure 2).
The active gage (figure 3) is defined by its length LAG, its
trimmers number NAG, its trimmer back rake angle ωcAG and its
rock-friction surface SfAG equal to the sum of the individual
preflatted trimmer friction surfaces.
The passive gage (figure 4) can have many design features.
The main passive gage characteristics are the length LPG, the
circumferential coverage CovPG (depending on the number of
blades and the blade spiral angle), the surface roughness

3

(smooth gage pads such as the low-friction gage pads or
aggressive gage pads depending on the carbide or diamond
insert type for protection), and the gage diameter φPG (fullgage
or undergage); all these parameters define a friction surface
SfPG with the borehole.
This friction surface SfPG is
characterized in the laboratory by the use a directional drilling
bench2 enabling to drill a sample of rock with a full scale bit
under both WOB and lateral force. This surface can be related
to the gage pad length :

S fPG =k LPG

(3)

where k is a function of circumferential coverage CovPG, the
number of blades, the gage diameter φPG and the surface
roughness.
Warning
The steerability of a PDC bit depends mainly on the side force
applied to the bit2 and on the rock strength3. Due to the
frictional forces generated on the gages (active and passive
gage) the side force has to overcome a given friction force
before making the bit penetrate laterally.
A complete 3D rock-bit interaction model has been developed
and validated in numerous laboratory tests using full scale
PDC bits. We present below a simplified model using only
geometrical criteria. For that, let’s assume the following
points :
-

during the drilling process, the lateral penetration
of the bit per revolution is very small,
based on a comparison with the 3D rock-bit
interaction model, the forces generated on the
chamfered edge of the PDC cutters are
negligible.

As the steerability is assumed to be constant when the side
force changes, the simple method developed can only be used
for relative comparison of PDC bit designs. An accurate
calculation of the bit steerability through the 3D rock-bit
model is recommended if a trajectory prediction is to be made.
However, when considering only the cutting structure of the
bit (bit profile), the steerability of the bit can be considered as
independent of the side force and the rock strength.
The formula presented below for the walking tendency
evaluation can be considered as a good approximation.
Formula
As discussed before, the walk angle of a PDC cutting structure
can be approximated by a simple equation linking the inner
cone depth C, the outer structure height G and the PDC back
rake angle ωc :

α CS = arctan

2(C −G)
tan(ωc +θ f ) (C +G)

(4)

4

SPE/IADC 79795

If the back rake angle is not identical along the bit profile (for
example in the case of a gradual increase of the back rake
from the inner cone to the gage), the walk angle can be
approximated by :

α CS = arctan

2(ωcC.C −ωcG.G)
(5)
tan(ωcC +θ f ) ωcC.C + tan(ωcG +θ f ) ωcG.G)

where ωcC and ωcG are the average back rake angle
respectively in the inner cone and the outer structure
respectively. From Eq. 5, one notices that a less aggressive
inner cone (ωcC high) and an aggressive outer structure (ωcG
low) lead to an increase of the right tendency or to the
decrease of the left tendency of the bit cutting structure.
Concerning the steerability of the bit profile (cutting
structure), if the back rake angles are the same (ωc = ωcC =
ωcG), it is possible to derive the simple following equation :
−1

−1

D2
D2
tan(ωc +θ f )( C 2 +
+ G2 +
)
16
16
1
2
(6)
BSCS = D
8
tan 2(ωc +θ f )
(C +G)2 +(G −C)2
4
where D is the bit diameter (see appendix for details).
From Eq. 6, one notices that the BSCS increases when :
-

the back rake angle ωc increases,
the friction angle θf increases,
the inner cone depth C decreases,
the outer structure height G decreases,
the diameter D increases (with fixed C and G).

The rise of the bit profile steerability with an increase of back
rake angle ωc or friction angle θf seems not intuitive. As
indicated previously, this increase is due to the fact that the
lateral and axial drillabilities do not change in the same
proportion when the back rake changes.
These above formulas concern only the cutting structure of the
PDC bit (profile and back rake angles). To consider the whole
bit, it is necessary to include the active and passive gages. The
walk angle of a complete PDC bit having identical back rake
along the bit profile (ωc = ωcC = ωcG =ωcAG) can be estimated
through the expression (see appendix) :

tanθ f
2(C −G) − LAG +LPG −
(S fAG +S fPG)
π
4
(7)
α =arctan
S fAG +S fPG
L
AG + LPG
tan(ωc+θ f ) (C +G+
)+
π
4
Note that Eq. 6 and 7 can easily be generalized for the case
ωcC ≠ ωcG ≠ ωcAG.
We can easily observe from Eq. 7 that if the friction forces are
predominant, the walk angle is very close to the angle of
friction between PDC and rock, θf. Some directional tests

carried out in the laboratory of Ecole des Mines de Paris have
shown that the walk angle of PDC bits with a passive gage
length greater than 1-in. remains in the range of –5° to –17°
(left tendency) depending on the rock type and
mud properties.
The steerability of the complete bit is proportional to a
geometrical function as follows :
−1

tan(ωc+θ f )( C 2+

−1

D2
D2
+ G2+
)
16
16

BS ∝ 1 D2
2
2
8
tan2(ωc+θ f )
4(SfAG +SfPG )
(C+G)2+(G−C)2+
(1+tan2θ f )
2
4
π

(8)

One can clearly notice from this formula that the longer the
gage pad is (greater friction surface SfGP), the less steerable the
bit is. Any friction generated at the gage pad level reduces the
steerability of the bit. If the gage pad is undergage, the BS
increases since the friction surface SfGP with the borehole is
dramatically reduced.
The assumptions made allow to formulate simple equations to
predict both bit steerability and walk tendency. These
assumptions are validated using a 3D rock-bit interaction
model. As indicated earlier, the steerability of the bit profile
can be considered as independent from the side force and the
rock strength. Table 1 presents the measured steerability and
the calculated values with the 3D rock-bit model and the
geometrical method of three bit profiles (the characteristics of
these three profiles are presented in table 2). The steerability
calculated with the geometrical method is given by Eq. A.6
and constitutes a good approximation of the steerability of the
bit profile.
PDC bit classification
IADC bit profile codes
The IADC bit profile codes enables to classify profiles
according to the relation between the inner cone depth (C),
the outer structure (G) and the bit diameter (D). From these 3
parameters, we have seen that we could estimate the
steerability and the walking tendency of the bit cutting
structure (Eq. 4 and 6).
Bit profile steerability
Table 3 presents a classification of PDC bit profiles according
to their steerability. The steerability of the bit profiles has been
calculated using the following parameters :
-

θf = 12°,
ωc = ωcC = ωcG = 20°

For each code, we have varied the inner cone depth (C) and
the outer structure height (G) in the range of variation defined
in the IADC Classification14. We suggest to attribute a
steerability code to each profile code, ranging from 1 (least

SPE/IADC 79795

steerable) to 9 (most steerable), depending on BSCS extrema
calculated with Eq. 6.
One observes that the IADC profile code 9 corresponding to
sidetrack designs has the highest steerability, although long
taper designs (IADC profile code 1, 2 and 3) have the lowest
steerability. Generally, the longer the taper is (or the deeper
the cone), the less steerable the profile is. According to Eq. 6,
we notice also that an increase of friction angle between PDC
and rock leads to a slight increase of bit steerability. As
evoked earlier, an increase of back rake angle along the entire
bit profile produces an increase of bit profile steerability.
Note that the proposed classification of PDC bit profiles
according to their steerability does not change if the
distribution of back rake angle along the profile is similar on
the 9 profiles considered.
Bit profile walking tendency
Table 3 presents the walk tendency of the 9 IADC profile
codes. As it is well known, the parabolic profiles (IADC
profile code 1, 2 and 3) exhibit a left tendency, although the
profiles with deep cone (IADC profile codes 7 and 8) have a
right tendency. However, as shown in a previous paper2, the
walking tendency of most PDC bits is greatly infuenced by
the active and passive gages, and exhibit a left tendency with a
walk angle close to the angle of friction between bit metal and
the drilled rock.
Gages guidelines
The steerability of the bit decreases as the gage length
increases. This statement observed in the field and laboratory
can be quantified using Eq. 8. Figure 5 shows the steerability
of a bit having only a cutting structure (IADC profile code 5)
and an active gage. The values of bit steerability are calculated
for a given side force and rock strength and should be used
only for comparison purpose. Whatever the type of trimmer
(rounded or preflatted), the bit steerability decreases as the
number of trimmers increases. However, there is a major
difference between rounded and preflatted trimmers since the
steerability of a bit equipped with 10 trimmers is 6 times
higher when the trimmers are rounded than when they are
preflatted. As evoked earlier, the high friction surface SfAG
generated on preflatted trimmers reduces the bit steerability.
The rounded trimmers may be considered as an extension of
the taper of the bit profile.
On most conventional PDC bit designs, a high back rake angle
ωcAG is generally chosen (typically greater than 30°) in order
to reduce the risk of cutters failure when the bit is subjected to
lateral vibrations. Even though the cutting forces on each
trimmer are generally negligible relative to friction forces
(during the drilling process, the lateral depth of cut per bit
revolution is very small), an increase of the back rake angle
ωcAG reduces slightly the steerability of the bit.
Figure 6 shows the bit steerability as a function of gage length
for a PDC bit of IADC code profile 5. The values of bit

5

steerability are calculated for a given side force and rock
strength and should be used only for comparison purpose. One
notices that the bit steerability highly decreases with an
increase of the gage pad length. It is also interesting to note
that the bit steerability seems not to depend on the number of
trimmers used when the gage pad length is greater than 1-in.
This same remark is also true for the bit profile. The reason is
that the steerability of a PDC bit is almost unaffected by the
profile type, but depends mainly on the gage characteristics as
shown in the figure 7 which presents the splitting up of a 500
daN lateral force applied to the Bit C. We observe that an
insignificant side force is consumed by the bit profile (cutting
structure) compared to the 84% consumed by the gage
pad (fullgage).
In order to reduce the friction surface SfGP the diameter of the
gage pad may be reduced (undergage gage pad). This leads to
a significant increase of the steerability of the bit. However,
this kind of design can be detrimental to the bit stability and
the borehole quality.
Conclusion
Through a comprehensive analysis of the directional
behaviour of PDC bits, a geometrical method has been
developed in order to evaluate the steerability and the walking
tendency of a given PDC bit. We have presented a
classification of PDC bit profiles according to their steerability
for the 9 profiles codes defined in the IADC classification, and
some guidelines about gage designs allowing to achieve fastly
and simply, a desired steerability of the bit.
The lateral drillability as well as the steerability of the bit are
not constant with the side force. The simple formulas
presented in this paper do not take into account this effect of
the side force on the steerability of the bit. Thus, these formula
can be used to compare different PDC bit designs under the
same operating conditions in order to select the most
appropriate for a given directional application.
The following conclusions can be drawn :

The steerability of a PDC bit is greatly influenced by
any friction surface generated on the gages. The
longer the gage is, the less steerable the bit is. The
friction surface of the trimmers (preflatted or
rounded) influences significantly the steerability of
the bit.
An increase of the back rake angle of the PDC
cutters along the bit profile increases the steerability
of the bit profile.

At last, it should be emphasized that an accurate calculation of
bit steerability through the 3D rock-bit model is necessary to
predict correctly the directional behaviour of the drilling
system. Moreover, one should not forget that the bit tilt angle
has also an additional effect on the deviation process, which
has not yet completely understood.

6

SPE/IADC 79795

Nomenclature
BS
BSCS
C
CovPG
D
Dax
Dlat
G
LAG
LC
LG
LIC
LOG
LPG
NAG
SfAG
SfPG
UCS

α
αCS

ωc
ωcAG
ωcC
ωcG
θf

- Bit Steerability, dimensionless
- Bit Steerability of cutting structure, dimensionless
- Inner cone depth, L, mm
- Circumferential coverage of passive gage,
dimensionless
- Bit diameter, L, mm
- Axial drillability, L/m/rev, (mm/Mg)/rev
- Lateral drillability, L/m/rev, (mm/Mg)/rev
- Outer structure height, L, mm
- Active gage length, L, mm
- Inner cone length, L, mm
- Outer structure length, L, mm
- Inner cone profile length, L, mm
- Outer structure profile length, L, mm
- Passive gage length, L, mm
- Trimmers number, dimensionless
- Total friction surface of the active gage, L2, mm2
- Total friction surface of the passive gage, L2, mm2
- Uniaxial Compressive Strength, m/Lt2, MPa
- Bit walk angle, rad, deg
- Walk angle of the cutting structure, rad, deg
- Back rake angle, rad, deg
- Average back rake angle of the trimmers, rad, deg
- Average back rake angle in the inner cone, rad, deg
- Average back rake angle in outer structure, rad, deg
- Friction angle between PDC and rock, rad, deg

References
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3.
4.
5.

6.

7.

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application of unique steerable PDC bits”, paper SPE
39308 presented at the 1998 IADC/SPE Drilling
Conference, Dallas, March 3-6.
Gaynor T., Chen D. C-K., Maranuk C. and Pruitt J. : “An
improved Steerable System: Working Principles,
Modeling and Testing”, paper SPE 63248 presented at
the 2000 SPE Annual Technical Conference and
Exhibition, Dallas, Texas, Oct. 1-4.
Von Flatern R. : “Extending the reach“, Offshore
Engineer, pp. 30-35, february 2002.
Winters, W.J., Doiron H.H.: “The 1987 IADC Fixed
Cutter Bit Classification System”, paper SPE 16142
presented at the 1987 SPE/IADC Drilling Conference,
New Orleans, March 15-18.

Appendix
Constant back rake angle (ωc = ωcC = ωcG =ωcAG)
The bit steerability of the cutting structure can be
approximated by the following expression :
2
2
2 tan(ωc +θ f ) ( LC + LG )
L IC LOG
BSCS =
tan2(ωc +θ f )
(C +G)2+(G−C)2
4

(A.1)

With the following simplifying assumption :
−1

−1

D2
D2
D2
( C 2+
+ G2+
) ≅
16
16
16

Eq. A.1 becomes :

2
2
( LC + LG )
L IC LOG

(A.2)

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7
−1

BSCS = 1 D 2
8

tan(ωc +θ f )( C 2 +

−1

D2
D2
+ G2 +
)
16
16

(A.3)

tan (ωc +θ f )
(C +G)2 +(G −C)2
4
2

Without taking into account the cutting forces on the active
and passive gages and the side force effect, the overall bit
steerability is proportional to a geometrical function as
follows:
−1

tan(ωc+θ f )( C 2+

−1

D2
D2
+ G2+
)
16
16

BS ∝ 1 D2
2
2
8
tan2(ωc+θ f )
4(SfAG +SfPG )
(C+G)2+(G−C)2+
(1+tan2θ f )
2
4
π

(A.4)

The global walk angle of the bit can be approximated by the
following expression :

tanθ f
2(C −G) − LAG +LPG −
(S fAG +S fPG)
π
4
(A.5)
α =arctan
S fAG +S fPG
L
AG + LPG
tan(ωc+θ f ) (C +G+
)+
π
4
We can easily check that if the friction forces are predominant,
the walk angle is very close to θf, the angle of friction
between PDC and rock.
Note that Eq. A.3, A.4 and A.5 can easily be generalized for
the case ωcC ≠ ωcG ≠ ωcAG.

8

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Bit profile

Bit A
Bit B
Bit C

Bit profile steerability
Laboratory tests 3D rock-bit model Geometric method
9.6
9.2
9.6
3.2
3.5
3.4
6.7
5.4
6.5

Table 1 : Comparison of experimental drilling results using full scale PDC bits with
calculated values using both geometrical method and 3D rock-bit interaction model

Dimensions
D (mm)
C (mm)
G (mm)
LPC (mm)
LPG (mm)
LC (mm)
LG (mm)
ωcC (deg.)
ωcG (deg.)
NAG
LAG (mm)
SfAG (mm2)
IADC profile code

Bit A
216
24.1
19.1
77.6
37
73.5
34.5
21
27
7
18.9
176
9

Bit B
216
20.3
41.6
66.5
62.1
63
45
20
27
15
30.5
365
5

Bit C
216
36.7
19.4
84.5
32.3
75
33
22
28
4
14.7
105
8

Table 2 : Characteristic dimensions of Bit A, Bit B and Bit C

IADC bit profile code
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9

1

Walking tendency1
Left
Left
Left
Right / Neutral
Right / Neutral / Left
Left
Right
Right
Right / Neutral / Left

Steerability code
2
3
1
5
7
6
4
8
9

Steerability1
0.4 < BSCS < 1.7
0.4 < BSCS < 1.7
0.4 < BSCS < 1.5
1.1 < BSCS < 2.9
1.5 < BSCS < 7.1
1.2 < BSCS < 7.1
0.9 < BSCS < 2.9
2.0 < BSCS < 7.1
4.5 < BSCS

: Calculated with θf=12° and ωc = ωcC = ωcG = 20°

Table 3 : Classification of PDC bit profile according to their steerability

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Figure 1 : IADC bit profile codes

10

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Figure 2 : Geometrical characterization of a PDC bit

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Figure 3 : Description of the active gage (trimmers)

Figure 4 : Description of the passive gage (gage pad)

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SPE/IADC 79795

Figure 5 : Steerability of cutting structure + active gage as a
function of trimmers number

Figure 6 : Bit Steerability (complete bit) as a function of gage pad length

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Figure 7 : Theoretical splitting up of 500 daN lateral force applied to
the Bit C (gage pad 2-in.) in the Vosges sandstone (UCS = 40 MPa)