Roller Cones vs. Diamonds: A Reversal of Roles

Throughout the history of drilling, “Heavy Metal” (not to be confused with the music genre) has been the preferred cutting element for grinding/crushing/chipping formations on literally the leading edge of a drilling device. The Chinese used heavy metal of sorts in percussion drilling (still a very popular method of drilling for water) in 1100 BC. In the beginning, most oil wells were created using percussion drills. In the 19th and 20th centuries, improvements in steel technology produced rotating drill bits that could quickly cut through soft rocks.Even in soft rocks, steel can wear down very rapidly, so it was often covered with inserts or a complete outside layer of tungst...

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