Make the Right Choice: Tricone Bits vs. PDC Bits

In the oil and gas industry, it’s vital to have the right equipment for every single one of your projects. Using the wrong tools can lead to all kinds of disasters, so it’s important to be sure to have the right information before you start. When it comes to drill bits, two of the most common selections are Tricones and PDC. They have two very different purposes, and should be purchased and used accordingly.

Tricone Bits

The tricone bit was invented by Hughes engineer, Ralph Neuhaus, and was an adaption of Baker Hughes original two-cone drill bit. Tricone bits consist of three roller cones (moving parts), and they require lubricated bearings and a grease reservoir. When tricone bits are used in larger projects, it’s necessary to also have a bearing seal so that drillers can keep debris from causing any stoppage in the rotation.

The roller-cone bits are used to drill all kinds of formations, from soft to hard. The softer formations use steel-tooth bits, and the harder use tungsten carbide.

The biggest advantage the tricone bits have over any other drill bit is the test of time. They have been proven time and time again, and they’re the best at controlling the trickier situations. Tricones’ ability to handle both soft and hard formations gives them the flexibility that other drill bits do not have.

PDC

The PDC drill bit, also known as the Polycrystalline Diamond Compact, was developed in the 1970s, and has become one of the most widely used drill bits in the world. The design features fixed heads that do not move, and are made through combining artificial diamonds and tungsten carbide with heat and pressure. PDC bits drill faster than tricone bits, and are very good at shearing rock, though both the tricone bits and PDC bits each have their separate place in the drilling industry. The latest PDC designs include spiraled or asymmetric cutter layouts, gauge rings and hybrid cutter designs.

There are two different designs for the PDC: matric-body and steel-body. Both of these designs have a big advantage – their lifespan. Both drill bits can be used for much longer without the need to replace them. That, along with their higher rate of penetration over tricones, gives them a lower cost per foot.

Althouh PDC bits are becoming increasingly more popular, the tricone bits still hold sway over many different drilling projects. These include gravel, dolomite, and hard limestone. Since the changes to PDC don’t reflect any interest in those areas, tricone bits will be holding those domains for a long time.

Both of the tricone and PDC drill bits have advanced well beyond their original designs; as the industry has moved forward, the tricone and PDC drill bits have had to change. The new designs offer improved durability, and ROP (rate of penetration) of the rock.

Click for a list of available Tricone Bits and PDC Bits.

Tricones the Right Choice When Things Go Wrong

Drilling projects with tricones are like weddings: You spend countless hours planning every facet of them down to the last detail, just to ensure that nothing goes wrong. And then it does.

Given the price tag of most drilling jobs, even with cost-effective tricones as your bit of choice, it pays to anticipate potential hazards before they strike. Being aware of worst-case scenarios, their causes and possible solutions will set you up for success long before you even begin drilling.

The Hole Truth

To your buddy whose only experience with oil is changing it every 3,000 km, drilling with tricones sounds easy in theory. Figure out where you want to end up, chart a path and then drill in a straight line until you get there. He might be surprised to learn that drilling a well with tricones is a bit more complicated than that.

For one thing, there is the possibility of encountering hole deviation, in which case drill bits such as tricones may depart from the borehole trajectory that was first plotted. This can lead to delays in drilling as well as higher costs.

While the cause is not always clear, it generally results from some significant force acting on drill bits like tricones and driving them from their intended path. This could be anything from the bottom hole assembly encompassing the tricones to the WOB (weight on bit), which is the amount of downward force exerted.

Significantly, hole deviation can sometimes be traced to the type and design of the drill bit, which is one reason that tricones are a possible solution to this hazard. Many tricones are sealed roller bits that are shielded by a protective barrier while other tricones are sealed journals with extremely tough faces. As a result, they are extremely durable and, like the cool-headed MC at the nightmare wedding, less likely to crack under pressure.

Tools of the Trade

As in any line of work, you can’t get first class results with second-class tools. When it comes to drilling with tricones, equipment that is inferior or improperly maintained is a leading cause of problems on site. Whether it’s improper rig hydraulics, faulty well control systems or insufficient hoisting power, your drilling project is only as strong as its weakest link.

That’s why it’s crucial to use exceptional drill bits like tricones. Designed with three cone shaped heads that are each equipped with several rows of teeth, tricones are easier to maintain and control than other drill bits. This is especially important when dealing with hard rock formations like shale, granite and limestone that can prove especially challenging in the absence of tricones.

You wouldn’t trust your tone deaf uncle to sing “here comes the bride”, so don’t jeopardize a multi million dollar drilling project by failing to employ tricones and settling for less than the best.

Coming Clean 

Even with the best equipment and intentions, setbacks can occur. It’s well documented that drilling at an angle more than 30 degrees from vertical can lead to difficulties in the removal of cuttings. This in turn can trigger expensive drilling issues such as premature bit wear, slow drilling and formation fracturing. Increasing flow rate while drilling with tricones and using drill string rotation can both enhance hole cleaning and lower your risk from excessive cuttings.

Also, you can further reduce the problem of premature bit wear by choosing tricones for your next project. This is especially true with sealed journal tricones, the strongest and toughest bits on the market. They are well known for their durability and are far less likely than other bits to cause disruptions in the drilling process.

While you can never eliminate problems entirely, you can take steps to minimize them such as selecting tricones for your drilling operation. Not only are they the perfect wedding of reliability and quality, but also unlike the shotgun marriage, they’ll continue to exceed your expectations long after the honeymoon is over.

Browse an outstanding selection of used tricones for sale.

The Tri Cone – #1 Over 2 Centuries…for 3 Reasons

They say there’s strength in numbers, and the tri cone is a perfect example. Its strong performance in project after project can be attributed to a number of factors. But since “good things come in threes”, here are three key reasons for its popularity and success.

3 Heads

They say that two heads are better than one, but why stop there? In 1933, engineers from the Sharp-Hughes Tool Company developed the first tri cone. They wanted to improve the company’s current two-cone design and, in spite of working during the Great Depression, they did so in bold fashion. By adding a third cone, they produced the ultimate drill bit. Sporting three cone shaped heads, each equipped with several rows of teeth, this design became extremely versatile, offering quality and consistency that was unmatched in the industry.

Over time, the tri cone has been enhanced with sharper teeth and better bearings. It can now drill deeper, longer and better than ever before. But the key qualities that separated it from the competition remain the same. Not only is it easier to control and maintain, but it can tackle the most challenging rock formations without missing a beat. Perhaps most importantly, it is cost effective, proving to be more affordable than other bits of lesser quality.

So tri cone buyers don’t get what they pay for. They get more.

3 Rocks

A big factor in the success of the tri cone is its ability to perform at a high level regardless of the rock formation involved. A tri cone is the perfect choice for soft formations such as sand, clay or soft limestone, and works equally well in medium formations including calcites, dolomites, limestone and hard shale.

For hard rock such as granite and mudstone, a sealed bearing tri cone is the drill bit of choice, as it’s extremely durable and less likely to disrupt your drilling process.

3 Bits

Because drilling projects come in all shapes and sizes, there are three types of tri cone bits available to accommodate a variety of jobs.

1. Roller bearing bits utilize three cones spinning independently. They are most often used to drill oil, gas or shallow water wells.

2. Sealer roller bits have a seal that protects each drill bit from damage during the drilling process. Although the seal will eventually be worn away from constant use, this model can still be employed as a roller bearing bit in future projects.

3. Sealed journal bits are the strongest and most durable of the three types. With the proper drilling lubrication, they can thrive in the toughest drilling climates and access even the most difficult to reach resources.

Naturally, as the quality and durability of the bits increase, so does the price. That’s why used tri cone bits are often a great alternative. Also known as “rebuilt” or “rerun”, they are ideal for undertakings that are smaller in scale and budget. If your next project falls into this category, contact a drill bit service and explore your options. As long as you deal with a reputable supplier, you can rest assured that a used tri cone will meet the same high standards as its newer counterpart.

Good things come in threes: 3 heads; 3 rocks; 3 bits. Of course, these are only a few of the many advantages that you’ll enjoy with the tri cone. A complete list would have too many items to count.

Maybe that’s why, in the mining and well drilling business, the tri cone has been #1 over 2 centuries, and why it will continue to post impressive numbers in the years ahead.

Count on it.

The Tricone Geothermal Energy – The Heat is On

If there was a popularity contest for drill bits, the tricone would win hands down. Geothermal energy, though not as well-known as the tricone, is an increasingly hot topic around the globe. To understand why, you need only look at its advantages, drawbacks and prospects for growth in the years to come.

For years, drilling and the tricone have been focused on the extraction of oil and natural gas. But with the steady depletion of these resources through tricone drilling, alternatives are needed.

What is it?

That’s where geothermal energy comes in. By drilling deep underground with the tricone, we can access a powerful heat source to turn water into steam, run it through a turbine and produce electricity. Once accessed through tricone drilling, geothermal energy provides power for a number of applications.

What’s so great about it?

Anyone who’s been involved with tricone drilling knows first-hand about the advantages of a tricone. In addition to its unparalleled quality, the tricone is durable, reliable and precise.

So why choose geothermal energy to access with the tricone?

1. Running Costs: Like the tricone, geothermal energy is cost effective, with running expenses approximately 80% less than for fossil fuels. Also, since it doesn’t involve fuel like other substances accessed by the tricone, geothermal energy entails a fairly small outlay for transportation, purchasing and plant clean up.

2. Pollution: Unlike some resources accessed with tricone drilling, geothermal energy is relatively friendly to the environment. While there is some pollution involved, it pales next to conventional targets of the tricone like coal and fossil fuels. As well, the carbon footprint generated by geothermal power plants is minimal compared to other tricone drilling projects.

3. Stability: As an alternative to traditional tricone drilled material, geothermal energy is more reliable than other options like solar or wind power that rely heavily on the weather. Consequently, geothermal power plants are ideally suited to meeting the base load energy requirements. They also benefit from a high capacity factor, in that their actual output of power closely matches the total installed capacity.

4. Renewability: Although our supplies of many energy staples extracted with the tricone are massive, they are also finite. This is a major reason that many countries are focusing more of their tricone efforts on geothermal energy. Not only is it renewable in that it’s a resource that is naturally replenished, but it sustains its own consumption rate where fossil fuels reached by tricone drilling do not.

What’s the catch?

While the tricone really has no downside, most things are not that fortunate, and geothermal energy is no exception:

1. Expensive Start up: Traditional tricone drilling projects vary widely in their budgets. It’s one reason that the tricone is the drill bit of choice for so many of them. Not only is the tricone available in different price ranges, but there are excellent used tricone bits available that are equally reliable. On the other hand, most commercial geothermal projects come with a high price tag. Deep drilling with the tricone is required, and the cost of drilling greatly increases with depth.

2. Lack of Widespread Use: Because geothermal energy has yet to be widely accepted, there is a shortage of skilled workers and suitable site locations. It’s a bit of a catch-22 situation, in that the low level of usage is in itself a hindrance to achieving greater acceptance.

Where do we go from here?

In spite of its challenges, geothermal energy is one of the few renewable energy sources that offers continuous baseload power. As such, it can be a key player in moving us towards cleaner, more sustainable energy.

As research reduces drilling costs and enhances plant efficiency, more countries are likely to explore this option. The next chapter has yet to be written, but one thing is for sure. The potential to improve the planet by tapping into its own heat power makes for a heartwarming story.

Working Safer and Smarter With Tricones

We’re always told that it’s important to work smarter, not harder, but if you’re not working safely, nothing else really matters. That’s where tricones come in. Regardless of the drilling project supported by tricones, there are a number of hazards to be aware of and corresponding ways of protecting yourself, your co-workers and your employees.

Drilling with tricones provides countless benefits, from access to vital resources to job creation to economic sustainability. Of course, rewards rarely come without risks, and drilling activity involving tricones is no exception. How well you manage those risks that sometimes accompany tricones will go a long way in determining the success and safety of your people, your project and your organization.

Hydrogen Sulphide

As part of drilling work involving tricones, oil and gas wells produced by tricones can release hydrogen sulphide, a colorless gas that is highly flammable and hazardous. At low levels, it can often be detected by smell due to its rotten egg scent. But the real danger arises when higher concentrations of the gas are produced in the course of drilling with tricones. This can actually remove your ability to smell hydrogen sulphide and expose you to the negative effects of the gas.

To ensure a safe working environment with all the advantages of tricones and no ill effects from hydrogen sulphide, focus on active monitoring, proper planning and worker training.

Hazardous Chemicals

Certain types of drilling with tricones, such as hydraulic fracturing, can sometimes expose workers to hazardous chemicals that cause chemical burns when toxic vapors are inhaled during the work with tricones.

If your workplace is such that hazard chemicals may pose a risk in the course of your efforts with tricones, make sure you have proper labels and safety data sheets available. And, as always, there is no substitute for thorough training of all employees who risk exposure to harmful chemicals as part of their work with tricones.

Excessive Noise

Workers drilling with tricones are no strangers to loud noise, but it poses a danger in many lines of work regardless of whether tricones are involved. If employees must shout to be heard by a co-worker in close proximity during their labor with tricones, there could be a noise issue.

As well, if people complain of ringing or humming in their ears following a day filled with drilling and tricones, the next sound you hear should be alarm bells in your head warning of a problem.

To reduce the noise level in your work with tricones, ensure equipment and machinery are properly maintained and lubricated and opt for low-noise tools and machinery where possible. Using tricones on your site will facilitate these efforts, as their reliability and low maintenance make them less likely to contribute to such hazards.

Extreme Temperatures

Depending on the location of your project involving tricones, workers could be exposed to excessive heat or inordinate cold. Those who are impacted by heat stress during their endeavours with tricones could suffer heat stroke, exhaustion, cramps, or heat rashes.

Apart from mandatory first aid training, there are several measures that employers can take to counteract the hazards of heat for employees as they toil with tricones:

  • Acclimatize your staff by gradually exposing them to hot work environments for greater periods of time.
  • Provide cool water or liquids to workers. Avoid sugary drinks or highly caffeinated beverages.
  • Provide rest periods and cool areas for shelter during breaks.

Those who must endure extreme cold as part of their work with tricones face their own dangers, including hypothermia, frostbite and trench foot. Recommended preventative measures include layering, wearing a hat and insulated boots, and spending work breaks in a warm location. It’s also suggested that workers avoid mixing alcohol and drilling with tricones in cold weather, but that’s probably sound advice regardless of the temperature.

Everyone has their own motivation for making it through the work day unscathed, whether it’s a spouse, a child or a parent. Staying aware of the hazards and taking steps to mitigate them may require some time and effort, but when it gets you home safely at night, you’ll agree it was time well spent. And so will your loved ones.

Choose from a wide selection of used tricones for sale.