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Drilling and Blasting-15MN46

Module-1 Principles of Rock Drilling and Drill Bits

Principles of Rock Drilling

Drilling for Excavation by Blasting

This reference edition deals with surface rock drilling used for the purpose of
excavating rock by means of blasting. Other types of drilling, such as drilling for oil
and water, mineral exploration, and grouting are excluded.

The reader is given a brief explanation of the various prevailing drilling methods, as
well as an introduction to blasting technique, and the interrelation of drilling and
blasting. Also discussed are the main parameters involved when planning and
executing blast hole drilling at quarries, open pit mines and various types of civil
engineering projects.

The range of Atlas Copco products, where references can be found to the Atlas Copco
Internet home pages, are presented and discussed by comparing their suitability and
expected productivity related to various applications. Up-dated case stories from
different work-sites in the world should prove interesting and beneficial, when
planning and selecting methods and equipment for blast hole drilling applications.

Blast holes have certain unique and important characteristics. These are: hole
diameter, hole depth, direction and straightness. Drilling produces a circular hole in
the rock, whose strength must be overcome by the drilling tool. Depending on rock
properties, there are several ways to accomplish this.

Rotary Drilling

Rotary drilling can be subdivided into rotary cutting and rotary crushing.

Rotary cutting creates the hole by shear forces, breaking the rock's tensile strength.
The drill bit is furnished with cutter inserts of hard metal alloys, and the energy for
breaking rock is provided by rotation torque in the drill rod. This technique is limited
to rock with low tensile strength such as salt, silt and soft limestone not containing
abrasive quartz minerals.

Rotary crushing breaks the rock by high point load, accomplished by a toothed drill
bit, which is pushed downwards with high force. The bit, being of tricone roller type
fitted with tungsten carbide buttons, is simultaneously rotated, and drill cuttings are
removed from the hole bottom by blowing compressed air through the bit. Drill rigs
used for rotary drilling are large and heavy. The downwards thrust is achieved by
utilising the weight of the drill rig itself, and the rotation, via a hydraulic or electric
motor, applied at the end of the drill pipe. Common hole diameters range from 8 to
17½ in (200-440 mm) and, because adding the heavy drill pipes is cumbersome, most
blasthole drillrigs use long masts and pipes to accommodate single-pass drilling of
maximum 20 m (65 ft). Electric power is usually chosen for the large rigs, whereas
smaller rigs are often powered by diesel engines.

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Rotation rates vary from 50 to 120 rpm, and the weight applied to the bit varies from
0.5 t/in of bit diameter in soft rock, to as much as 4 t/in of bit diameter in hard rock.

Recent technical advances include: improved operator cab comfort; automatic control
and adjustment of optimum feed force and rotation speed to prevailing geology and
bit type and diameter; and incorporation of latest technology in electric and hydraulic
drive systems.

Rotary drilling, which is still the dominant method in large open pits, has limitations
in that the rigs cannot drill holes off the vertical line. As blasting theories and practice
have proved, it is generally beneficial to design, drill and blast the bench slopes at an
angle of approximately 18 degrees off vertical.

Many rotary rig masts have pinning capabilities permitting drilling at angles as much
as 30 degrees out of the vertical. However, the inclined hole drilling capabilities in
rotary drilling are limited by the heavy feed force required, since part of this force is
directed backwards. This causes rig stability problems, reduced penetration, and
shorter life of drilling consumables. Consequently, most blast hole drilling using
rotary drill rigs is in vertical holes.

Percussive Drilling

Percussive drilling breaks the rock by hammering impacts transferred from the rock
drill to the drill bit at the hole bottom. The energy required to break the rock is
generated by a pneumatic or hydraulic rock drill. A pressure is built up, which, when
released, drives the piston forwards. The piston strikes on the shank adapter, and the
kinetic energy of the piston is converted into a stress wave travelling through the drill
string to the hole bottom. In order to obtain the best drilling economy, the entire
system, rock drill to drill steel to rock, must harmonize.

The relative speed at which a material may be penetrated by a drill bit. High
drillability denotes easy penetration at a fast rate. The specific value of the drilling
properties of a rock expressed in terms of the drilling rate under certain technical

Drillability Index
The drilling process and its results are affected by various parameters of the rock
material and rock mass. The effects of rock material have been emphasized in various
studies; however lack of perfect knowledge of rock mass structural parameters may
lead to unpredictable results. This paper presents a new classification system for
specifying the rock mass drillability index (RDi). For this purpose, six parameters of
the rock mass, including texture and grain size, Mohr’s hardness, uniaxial
compressive strength (UCS), joint spacing, joint filling (aperture) and joint dipping
have been investigated by physical modeling and rated. Physical modeling in
particular has been used for investigating the effects of joint characteristics on drilling
rate. In the proposed RDi system, each rock mass is assigned a rating from 7 to 100,
with a higher rating corresponding greater ease of drilling. Based on the RDi rating,
the drilling rate may be classified into five modes: slow, slow-medium, medium,
medium-fast, and fast.

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Factors affecting the drillability

The factors which affect the rate of penetration in rotary drilling are exceedirlgly
numerous. While it is desirable to increase the penetration rate, such increase must not
be made at the expense of over-compensating, detrimental effects. The fastest rate of
drilling may not necessarily result in lowest cost/metre of drilled hole as the other
factors like accelerated bit wear, equipment failure etc, may raise the total cost.

Some of the important variables which are known to affect the penetration rate
can be grouped as follows:

(1) Rock properties:

(a) Compressive strength

(b) Hardness and abrasiveness
(c) Elasticity (brittle or plastic)
(d) Porosity and permeability
(e ) inplace rock drillability

(2) Mechanical factors:

(a) Weight on bit

(b) Rotary speed
(c) Bit type

(3) Mud properties:

(a) Density
(b) Viscosity
(c) Filtration loss
(d) Oil content
(4) Rig Hydraulics


The rock properties which govern the drilling rate are yet to be completely
understood. In general, penetration rate varies inversely with the compressive strength
of the rock being drilled.

The elastic properties of the various formations are greatly influenced by the state of
stress at which they exist. The behavior of most shales is typical of this effect, and
they become increasingly difficult to drill at greater depths. The balling tendency of
the formation is primarily dependent on its mineral composition. Hydratable clays
form a sticky pasty mixture with water which becomes embedded between bit teeth
and the cone shell of bit. This reduces the teeth penetration and consequently, drilling
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rate. A porous zone drills faster than a dense section of the same rock mainly due to
the lower compressive strength of porous zones. The effect of temperature in the
range of our interest is not generally considered. However, rock failure mechanism
becomes more plastic as the temperature increases.


In all formations, penetration rate is governed by the weight on bit and rotary speed
which may be applied. For attaining higher penetration rate, optimum bit weights and
rotary speeds should be determined.

Mechanics of Drilling
Mechanism of Rock Breakage by Drilling and Drillability of Rock

Mechanism of Rock Breakage During Drilling

The general types of rock breakage during drilling by mechanical method, including
percussion drilling, rotary drilling, and rotary-percussion drilling, are three kinds of
basic mechanism: percussion-penetration, pressured roller, and cut (see Fig. 2.1).
During the process of drilling the tool (percussive drilling bit, roller-disk and studded
roller-disk cutter, rotary tricone bit, or drag tools), the first action is push

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(or percussion), the tool penetrates into (indentation) and breaks (by Fp) the rock
surface, then expands the breakage by continual percussion together with rotation of
the bit, or pressured-rolling by thrust force (Fp) and torque (M) or continual cut by
push force (Fr) under the thrust force (Fp). The tool penetrates and breaks the rock
surface by a static (thrust) force or impact (percussion) force; this is the basic process
of the rock breakage by mechanical method. The process of tool penetrating the rock
surface can be divided into four phases as follows [1] (Fig. 2.2): • Crushed zone As
the tool tip begins to dent the rock surface, stress grows with the increasing load and
the material is elastically deformed, zone III in Fig. 2.2. At the contact surface,
irregularities are immediately formed and a zone of crushed rock powder core
develops beneath the indenter (the bottom or insert of the tool). The crushed core
comprises numerous microcracks that pulverize the rock into powder of extremely
small particles. About 70–85 % of the indenter’s work is consumed by the formation
of the crushed zone. The crushed core transmits the main force component into the

• Crack formation As the process continues, dominant cracks begin to form in the
rock, phase (a) in Fig. 2.2. This initial stage of restricted growth is described as an
energy barrier to full propagation. The placement of major cracks depends on the
indenter shape. Generally, the dominant placement of major cracks with blunt
indenters, such as a sphere, is located just outside the contact area, pointing down and
away from the surface.

• Crack propagation After the energy barrier has been overcome, spontaneous and
rapid propagation follows. At a lower depth than the contact dimension, the tensile
driving force falls below that necessary to maintain growth, thus the crack again
becomes stable. The crack is then said to be “well developed.”

• Chipping When the load reaches a sufficient level, the rock breaks and one or more
large chips are formed by lateral cracks propagating from beneath the tip of the
indenter to the surface. This process is called surface chipping, phase (b) in Fig. 2.2.
Each time a chip is formed, the force temporarily drops and must be built up to a new,
higher level to achieve chipping. Figure 2.3 describes the “leapfrogging” progress of
the indenter as it penetrates the rock surface [2]. During the process of loading–
penetration, there are two facts mentioned by the researchers [2]:

• From Fig. 2.3, it shows that the load–penetration curves for each subrising sections
have substantially the same slope. That means the increase in penetration depth is
nearly a constant when unit load is increased. The dropping sections of the curves are
in relation to the stiffness of the loading mechanics; it is not fully dependent on the
rocks being dented; • Secondly, the bottom angle of the crater (called “natural
breaking angle”) formed by crushing and chipping are almost always within a range
about 120°– 150° (see Fig. 2.4). Table 2.1 gives the values of the natural breaking
angle of some rocks.

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Selection of Drills

Selection of Rock Drill and Accessories

Fields of Application for Different Drilling Methods

By taking into account the rock drillability and the drilling diameter, the following
Fig. 2.55, as a reference, gives the fields of application for different drilling methods
as the function of rock drillability and drill hole diameters. 2.7.2 Principles of
Selection of Drilling Equipment for Surface Excavation

The following principles should be considered firstly for selection of drilling

equipment for surface excavation:

• Scale and complexity of the project, the total amount of materials to be excavated,
and the project schedule for excavation.
• Geological conditions of the project, especially the rock drillability.
• Environment conditions, including the distance from the residential area, slopes, and
other sensitive receivers (structure, building, and utilities), relative laws and
• The conditions and costs of maintenance and services for the equipment.

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• Initial investment for purchase of drilling equipment.

Under these conditions, the selection of drilling equipment can be determined step by
step: • The scale of each blasting, blasthole diameters, maximum drillhole depth; •
Total amount of drillhole length, including blastholes and other holes, such as soil
nails/rock bolts, and drilling productivity are required; • Drilling method, capacity of
drilling equipment, type and modes of drilling equipment, number of drills to be used
for the project; and • Estimating the quantity of drill accessories to be used for the

Selection of Drilling Equipment for Underground Excavation

Similar to the surface excavation but more complicated, the following factors must be
taken into account:
• Scale and complexity of the project. The total amount of materials to be excavated
and the project schedule for excavation.
• Geological conditions of the project, especially the rock drillability.
• Environment conditions, including the distance from the residential area, slopes,
other sensitive receivers (structure, building, and utilities), relative laws and
• Compatibility with other excavation equipment, like loading and hauling, for the
job. The equipment must be technically advanced but compatible with existing
machines and anything else being purchased. This compatibility must also extend to
maintenance and servicing.
• The conditions and costs of maintenance and services for the equipment.
• Detailed calculations are necessary to determine which equipment is the most
economical, efficient, practical, and technically suitable. During the procedure of
selection of drilling equipment, the following technical aspects must be considered:
• Versatility.
In general, equipment must be able to carry out drilling tasks in a variety of
conditions, even it has been chosen for a particular construction target. These tasks
include the following:

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• Changing face areas in tunneling;

• Various hole lengths, short holes, and long holes drilling (like probe holes and
grouting holes);
• Various hole directions, up-slope or down-slope, shaft sinking, and rise excavation;
• Bolting: amount and frequency of bolting, different bolt types, length, and size.

Care of Drills
Most common causes of product failures


Balanced system

The first steps to good performance and service life when drilling with DTH
equipment is to have a balanced system – air supply, hammer and bit.

Correct settings

Second step is to use correct settings in relation to the drilling situation

Percussion force
Feed force / weight on bit

Causes of failures

The third step is good care and maintenance of the equipment to keep it working long
and trouble free. This will avoid or delay the three main “natural” causes to hammer
and bit failures to happen


Good practices

 Scheduled maintenance is extremely important in preventing premature

 A new hammer should be disassembled, inspected an cleaned after the first
eight (8) hours of drilling.
 Here after disassemble, inspected and cleaned every 100 hours of operation or
3 000 m (10 000 ft) of drilling
 Wear limits
 Follow recommendations in Operator’s Manual regarding wear limits for
hammer key components

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 Regularly inspect all parts for galling, cracks and burrs

 Replace any parts which are cracked
 Use a file or emery paper to remove any burrs
 Any part which shows signs of galling also has a mating part with similar
 If the piston is galled it should be replaced and a careful inspection is required
inside the piston case
 It is strongly recommended to hone or polish inside the piston case to smooth
the galled surfaces


 Corrosion “The deterioration of a substance because of a reaction with its

environment” is a well known problem creator in a drillers world
 Most environments encountered while drilling are considered to be corrosive
o Water
o Air
o DrillingFoams
o Sulphides
o Chlorides


 Metals will crack and break if they are subjected to high cyclic stresses
 The mode of operation in percussive drilling is to use cyclic stresses to crush
the rock, the cyclic stresses level depends on rock drillability
 Energy levels during drilling are very close to the maximum stress that
materials in hammer and bit components can take


 Galling is a form of severe wear occurring between two sliding Metal from
one surface is “picked-up” by the other
 Inside a hammer in DTH drilling rig there are several metal surfaces in motion
that are in contact and galling can easily happen
 Galling comes in most cases from poor lubrication or foreign material in the
 The easiest way to avoid galling is consequently to keep the hammer clean and
well lubricated


 Correct lubrication during DTH drilling is extremely important

 Inadequate lubrication is a major cause of hammer wear and failure
 Excessive lubrication slows down the piston and makes start up difficult
 Use rock drill oil only
 Modern drill rigs are provided with automatic lubrication equipment injecting
oil into the air stream supplied from the compressor

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 Rate of lubrication is a function of hammer air consumption, which depends

on operating pressure, and choke size being used
 Joints like top and driver subs, pin and box threads shall have a good layer of
thread lubricant
 This will prevent corrosion and galling and insure ease of breakout at
 Thread lubricant shall contain at least 40% metal particles

Corrosion control

 Hammer storage
 Clean and lubricate all components with rock drill oil and thread lubricant
before storage
 When using foam
 After usage clean & oil by blowing dry lubricated air through the system upon
completion of each hole or when not in use for three hours
 Water injection or in wetholes
 Never leave hammer in hole under. Inspect and service every 100 hours
 Periodically test water
 pH factor above 71a
 No chlorides or sulfides
 At frequent intervals
 Re-coat top and driver sub with thread lubricant

The gap

 When the driver sub has been screwed into the piston case with guide sleeve
and retainer ring installed, a gap must be visible where the piston case and
driver sub join
 The size of the gap is not critical but it should not be less than 0,5 mm (0.02”)
and not more than 1.0 mm (0.04”)
 When the gap is at the lower level it is time to change the piston retainer If
hammer operation continues with no gap, there is a high risk of component

Hammer Disassembly

 Use the correct tools in the right spots to disassemble hammers Clamping over
thread areas will make disassembling very difficult
 The hammer disassembly procedure and proper tools are shown in below and
the fourth picture in right is showing the damaged hammer by un-proper
hammer disassembly tools and procedure.

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Drill pipes

 Make sure that drill pipes are clean before adding them to the drill string
 Use compressed air to clean the interior
 All contamination in drill pipes will end up in the hammer
 Never use bent drill pipes
 Inspect the lower connection in the top sub to make sure the threads are in
good condition
 If you are putting on a new string or a significant number of new drill rods, a
new top sub is recommended
 Remove thread protectors, clean off and inspect the connections for damage
 Apply a good quality thread grease
 Make sure the inside of the pipe is clean, even if the pipe is new
 Make and break the connections slowly a couple of times
 If resistance to make and break is too high back off and inspect for thread
damage and rig alignment

Energy Correlation of Bits

The specific energy (Se) can be defined as of the energy necessary to drill a
determined volume of rock (GJ/m3). Several approaches can be found in the literature
but the most accurate and used one is due to Teale (1965) coming from the oil
industry and derived from the main parameters that are involved
in drilling a rock mass. Parameters that appear to govern the drilling process may be
grouped as follows:
• Parameters related to the equipment such as drilling machine, rod or bit.
• Parameters related to the drilling process: the weight on bit, rotary speed, drilling
fluid properties and circulation velocity. These are the three main elements on which
the driller can intervene within the limits of possibilities of the equipment.
• Parameters related to the ground response: rate of penetration, rotation torque,
drilling fluid pressure, reflected vibration through the drilling rods. For given drilling
conditions, these parameters depend on the characteristics of the ground.
The eight parameters usually recorded by the main digital recorders are:
a. Drilling fluid pressure (Pf).
b. Rotation torque applied to the string of rods by the head (T).
c. Thrust applied to the drilling bit (F).
d. Drilling speed (V).
e. Rotation speed (N).
f. Retention force (hold-back) (Fr).
g. Reflected vibration.
h. Drilling time for 5 mm penetration (t).
Drilling data varies with drilling equipment and the way it is used, so it is necessary to
standardize the testing procedure. While the drilling process is taking place, a
relatively constant drilling fluid pressure, rotation speed and thrust on the bit must be
provided in order to obtain consistent data.
When drilling parameters are maintained constant, study of rate of penetration allows
the detection of changes in lithology and in the rock compactness or the presence of

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an anomaly such as a cavity or a fracture. It is closely related to the `hardness´ of the

strata being drilled, therefore, this parameter is very important and needs to be
recorded and interpreted carefully in order to get all significant lithological
A relatively constant flow rate (fluid pressure) must be provided to the borehole by a
water pump. Ideally, pressure would be measured at the bit. However, because of the
impossibility of placing a transducer near the nozzle, the pressure is measured
adjacent to the pump at the ground surface.
Thrust on the bit is the main parameter that affects the drilling speed; for a given soil
formation, the drilling speed is roughly proportional to the down-thrust.
For this reason it is recommended to keep down-thrust as constant as possible during
the drilling process in order to obtain information directly from the drilling speed.
Rotation speed is measured by an electromagnetic proximity sensor.
It is usually chosen to suit the drilling conditions. A constant and not very high
rotation speed is preferred because higher rates of penetration could mask certain
lithological variation that can be reflected by the torque parameter. Torque is applied
and measured in the drilling rod and transmitted to the drilling bit.
It should vary nearly instantaneously with rock condition; therefore, torque should be
recorded continuously. Hold-back pressure is necessary to prevent the drilling rod
from penetrating too fast in soft ground and to prevent the equipment falling into a
hole when a cavity is encountered. The hold-back pressure has to be subtracted from
the down-thrust, in order to obtain the effective net weight on the bit. Variations in
drilling parameters are related to the ground properties.
In a given type of soil or rock, the variations of one of the recorded parameters are
predominant. However, though this is of great help in the interpretation, it may
happen that two different soils have the same dominant parameter. For this reason, it
is absolutely necessary to do an initial calibration with the execution of at least one
logged destructive borehole near to a cored one, and then compare the parameter
values with the lithology obtained in the cored holes.
In the absence of the calibration cored borehole it will be more difficult to define the
nature of the formation. Under particularly favourable conditions, it is possible to do a
satisfactory soil description with a precision of less than 0.10 m on the depth or
thickness of a layer. This is the first level of interpretation, which is possible from
both analogue and digital recorders. However, the main interest for numerical data is
that it can be used in computer operations and for combined parameters which are
purely empirical or may have a physical meaning.

Drill Bits
There are two types of drill bits for rotary-percussive drilling:
• Insert Bits, and
• Button bits.
For the two types of bits, there are some design characters in common:
a. The rods are threaded to the end of the bit thread so that the transmission of impact
energy is as direct as possible to the rock.
b. The bits have a series of central and lateral openings through which the flushing
fluid is injected and they have channels through which the rock particles produced
pass upwards.
c. The bits are designed to be slightly conic, with the widest part in contact with the
rock so as to counteract the wear and avoid an excessive adaptation to the blasthole

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Insert Bits
There are three types of insert bits presently used for rock drilling (Fig. 2.50): the
chisel (I-bit), cross bit, and the X-bit (shown in the right part of the figure). The chisel
bits are commonly used for handheld rock drill for hard rocks. One piece of tungsten
carbide is fixed in the I-bit. The cross bit consists of four tungsten carbide inserts at a
90° angle, whereas the X-bit has four inserts at 75° and 105° angles between the insert
pair. The size of insert can be varied according to the drill hole size, rock type, and the
abrasiveness of the rock. Insert bits are manufactured in diameters from 35 to 64 mm.
Although insert bits may be less expensive to purchase, they usually have shorter
regrinding intervals and life expectation, which often makes them less economical
than button bits. For this reason, button bits have captured much of the market from
insert bits.

Button Bits
The button bit is the most popular type of bit in use today for big hole, high
production, and blast hole drilling. These bits have buttons or cylindrical inserts of
tungsten carbide distributed in various patterns on the face. They are manufactured in
diameters that go from 50 to 251 mm. See Fig. 2.51.
The bit face is so designed that it can achieve the following important tasks:
• Allow for rock chips to clear and avoid recutting;
• Hold gauge and retain cleaning flutes;
• Present the most effective impact alignment of carbides to break and chip the rock,
• Drill straight.

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The carbide buttons have several basic shapes and are made of various materials. The
carbide material normally contains 6–12 % cobalt, and it is usually classified as soft,
standard, and hard, see Fig. 2.52. • Soft material is generally used in soft, abrasive
rock to allow carbide wear to move approximate bit body wear and avoid excess
carbide extension. • Standard material is used for general drilling conditions. • Hard
materials are used for very hard, abrasive formations. Button size generally increases
with bit diameter, which allows for higher rotation speeds. Bit bodies are generally of
steel composition, and the various grades and styles of carbide inserts are press-fitted
into the body. For some applications, the body steel may be hardened all the way
through and carburized.

Special Bits

There are some specially designed bits for the particular application:

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1. Retrac bits: When collaring or other problems cause tight steels, the “retrac” bit
body help to ream the bit out of the hole. A typical retrac bit has a long, large
diameter with edges. The large body helps it to drill straight holes, and the edges
enable the drill string to be withdrawn when spalling has occurred.
2. Reaming bits: The reaming button bits are used underground to drill the large
parallel cut holes. These bits usually are used with pilot rods or extension rods and
reaming bit adaptors.

3. Drop center bits: The drop center bits have excellent flushing characteristics, as the
flushing hole of the bit is in the center of the face. They are used in soft rocks that are
easy to drill.
4. Ballistic bits: The ballistic bits have bullet-shaped buttons which are longer than the
standard and give high penetration rates and a more efficient flushing for soft rock
formation (Fig. 2.53).
Down-the-Hole Hammer Bits

The bits for DTH hammers have shanks incorporated upon which the piston strikes
directly. The most common diameters of these bits go from 85 to 250 mm, although
larger ones exist. Both insert (cross and X inserts) and button bits are used for DTH
hammers, but button bits are the most commonly used and good for any type of rock.
Figure 2.54 shows the common DTH bits designed for different rock formations. The
manufacturers, like Atlas Copco, Sandvik, and Ingersoll-Rand, have similar series of
bit design.

Fig. 2.54 Basic button bit face design used for DTH

Study of bit life and Factors affecting the bit life

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Rules of thumb for bit selection

 Shale has a better drilling response to drill speed.
 Limestone has a better drilling response to bit weight.
 Bits with roller bearings can be run at a higher speed than bits with journal
 Bits with sealed bearings have a longer life than bits with open bearings.
 Bits with journal bearings can be run at higher weights than bits with roller
 Diamond product bits can run at higher speeds than three-cone bits.
 Bits with high offset may wear more on gauge.
 Cost-per-foot analysis can help you decide which bit to use.
 Examination of dulls can also help you decide which bit to use.

Tripping can ruin a new bit

 Make the bit up to proper torque.
 Hoist and lower the bit slowly through ledges and doglegs.
 Hoist and lower the bit slowly at liner tops.
 Avoid sudden stops. Drillpipe stretch can cause a bit to hit the hole bottom.
 If reaming is required, use a light weight and low speed.

Establish a bottom hole pattern

 Rotate the bit and circulate mud when approaching bottom. This will prevent
plugged nozzles and clear out fill.
 Lightly tag bottom with low speed.
 Gradually increase speed and then gradually increase weight.

Use a drill-off test to select best weight on bit (WOB) and

 Select speed.
 Select bit weight. Depending on bit selected, refer to appropriate
manufacturer’s recommended maximum speed and WOB.
 Lock brake.
 Record drill-off time for 5,000-lbm increments of weight indicator decrease.
 Repeat this procedure for different speeds.
 Drill at the weight and speed that give the fastest drill-off time.

The bit is not always to blame for low ROP

 Mud weight may be too high with respect to formation pressure.
 Mud solids may need to be controlled.
 Pump pressure or pump volume may be too low.
 Formation hardness may have increased.

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 Speed and weight may not be the best for bit type and formation. Use drill-off
 Bit may not have adequate stabilization.
 Bit may be too hard for the formation.

Thrust and Feed Equipment

All drilling methods require a feeding system that pushes the drilling tool against the
rock, maintains the advance of the bit as drilling progresses, and withdraws the tools
once drilling is complete. A heavy weight or a pneumatic (pusher-) leg is used with
hand-held rock drills. For larger mechanized rock drills, whether pneumatic or
hydraulic, the feed equipment is designed so that the drill sits on a carriage that travels
along a feeder called the guide shell. An alternative system used with light pneumatic
drills comprises a screw that is inserted into a nut built into the drill body itself and
rotated by a feed motor that drives the drill bit (screw feed). Most feed systems,
however, are either chain or rope feeds. The chain feed incorporates a chain running
along the guide shell that is driven by a pneumatic or hydraulic motor via a rotating
sprocket. In a rope feed, the expansion and contraction of a hydraulic cylinder is
transmitted to the drill via a rope passing through a sheave connected to the feed
cylinder body. In hydraulically driven drilling systems, a hose reel is usually attached
to the feed equipment. An anti-jamming feed control for controlling the thrust is
indispensable in hydraulic drilling systems, in order to avoid uncontrolled jamming of
the bit.

Rotation System
For percussion rock drills, a mechanism is necessary to rotate the bit between blows
and monitor the torque on the bit to avoid jamming. Hydraulic or pneumatic rotation
motors are most frequently used to rotate the rod, although small pneumatic rock
drills often employ a rifle rotation system, in which the drilling rod is rotated by a
piston via a rifle bar without the need for a pneumatic motor.

Alignment and Deviation of Holes

Hole deviation is the unintentional departure of the drill bit from a preselected
borehole trajectory. Whether it involves drilling a straight or curved-hole section, the
tendency of the bit to walk away from the desired path can lead to drilling
problems such as higher drilling costs and also lease-boundary legal problems.

Causes of hole deviation

It is not exactly known what causes a drill bit to deviate from its intended path. It is,
however, generally agreed that one or a combination of several of the following
factors may be responsible for the deviation:

Heterogeneous nature of formation and dip angle

Drillstring characteristics, specifically the bottomhole assembly (BHA) makeup
Stabilizers (location, number, and clearances)
Applied weight on bit (WOB)

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Hole-inclination angle from vertical

Drill-bit type and its basic mechanical design
Hydraulics at the bit
Improper hole cleaning

It is known that some resultant force acting on a drill bit causes hole deviation to
occur. The mechanics of this resultant force is complex and is governed mainly by the
mechanics of the BHA, rock/bit interaction, bit operating conditions, and, to some
lesser extent, by the drilling-fluid hydraulics.

The forces imparted to the drill bit because of the BHA are directly related to the
makeup of the BHA, i.e.:


The BHA is a flexible, elastic structural member that can buckle under compressive
loads. The buckled shape of a given designed BHA depends on the amount of applied
WOB. The significance of the BHA buckling is that it causes the axis of the drill bit to
misalign with the axis of the intended hole path, thus causing the deviation. Pipe
stiffness and length and the number of stabilizers (their location and clearances from
the wall of the wellbore) are two major parameters that govern BHA buckling
behavior. Actions that can minimize the buckling tendency of the BHA include
reducing WOB and using stabilizers with outside diameters that are almost in gauge
with the wall of the borehole.

The contribution of the rock/bit interaction to bit deviating forces is governed by:

Rock properties
Cohesive strength
Bedding or dip angle
Internal friction angle
Drill-bit design features
Tooth angle
Bit size
Bit type
Bit offset in case of roller-cone bits
Teeth location and number
Bit profile
Bit hydraulic features
Drilling parameters
Tooth penetration into the rock and its cutting mechanism

The mechanics of rock/bit interaction is a very complex subject and is the least
understood in regard to hole-deviation problems. Fortunately, the advent of downhole
measurement-while-drilling tools that allow monitoring the advance of the drill bit
along the desired path makes our lack of understanding of the mechanics of hole
deviation more acceptable.

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The hole collared to the left of the joint (the hole shown with yellow dashes and the
joint shown with red-brown staining) in this rock face deviated as it intersected the
rock-joint region, turning in an alignment nearly perpendicular to the joint. When the
hole intersected the joint, the hole turned nearly parallel with it.
Once across the joint, the hole continued on the same trajectory, ending precisely at
the bottom of an adjacent hole.

A consequence of detonating two primers together in two adjoining holes that

terminate at the same location is to undercut the rock.

Look closely at the rock face to the right to see where undercutting of the rock has

Common sources of drillhole misalignments are:

• Collaring deviations, or the lateral displacement of a hole from its planned

starting point: this can be caused by

(1) the topography of the drill site,

(2) poor drill set-up, and/or
(3) the inability of the drill to hold the boom and feed beam in a rigid position (worn
pins and bushings).

• Alignment deviations, or inaccuracies in setting the feed on which a drill is

mounted in a planned direction: this can be caused by
(1) instabilities of the drill rig,
(2) lack of precision in positioning equipment,

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(3) misaligning the feed beam,

(4) topography at the collaring point, and/or
(5) structural geology.

• Trajectory deviations, or deviations from the designed drill path during

drilling of the hole: factors contributing to this include
(1) hole design (inclination, diameter, length),
(2) drill parameters (thrust, percussion, rotation, flushing velocities),
(3) equipment (bits, rods, stabilizers, couplings, etc.), and/or
(4) rock properties (structures, hardness, variations in the rock mass).

• Driller inexperience.

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