The strengths and weaknesses of different tricones


It’s always important to have the right tool for the job at hand. Luckily, tricones can be tailored to the drilling scenario, rock formation, or drilling speed that your project requires. Modern tricones are made with either open or sealed roller bearings, and there are different materials for the drilling surfaces of the tricones. All types of tricones have their own advantages and disadvantages, so picking the correct tricones for your project is critical.

Open roller bearing tricones for shallow drilling and cost savings

Open roller bearings, as the name suggests, are tricones that allow the bearings to rotate without a seal. This makes them cheaper to produce and results in less expensive tricones for the consumer, but may require more maintenance. Debris can enter through the open cone and potentially lock up the bearings. This means you will have to clean the tricones every several hundred yards. This makes them ideal for shallow drilling where you only have to clean the tricones once or twice, or maybe not at all depending on depth. Some Open roller bearing tricones have the ability to blast air through them to help clear away debris. This makes the cleaning process much easier, but can add to the cost of the tricones.

Sealed roller bearing tricones for more efficient drilling

Sealed bearing tricones are designed to protect the rotating bearings from debris to allow for longer drilling durations. Although they are more expensive this cost is offset by the comparative lack of time that needs to be spend on cleaning and maintenance, especially compared to open roller bearing tricones. The bearings are generally sealed with an O-ring and have additional lubrication to ensure the bearings keep going longer. This makes sealed bearings an obvious choice for any substantial or deep well drilling.

TCI Tricones for drilling in hard formations or for exceptional durability

TCI (Tungsten Carbide Inserts ) allows for superior hardness and durability, making these some of the longest lasting drill bits on the market. These tricones have exceptional value due to the quality of the materials used, making them ideal for any long term drilling projects. As with all tricone bits you can opt for sealed or open roller bearings to best suit your project.

PDC bits – An alternative to tricones for large scale projects

A comparatively new innovation, PDC (Polycrystalline Diamond Compact) drill bits can be used at higher speeds to complete projects in short order. The industrial grade synthetic diamonds have exceptional strength; however, they also have greater brittleness, which can lead to drill bit damage in some rock formations. PDC bits are best suited to large scale and potentially very expensive drilling projects where the superior hardness and drilling speed will have time to offset the initial costs. While they may not be superior to tricones for every project, they provide great efficiency gains for the right projects.

Gauge protection to further extend the life of your tricones or PDC bits

Occasionally when drilling the bit may shift slightly off center and risk contacting the borehole wall with significant force. This can cause increased instability, drilling at an undesired angle, or damage to the drill bit itself. Gauge Protection refers to an insert that prevents the cutting elements from coming into contact with the borehole walls. It essentially a controlled first point of impact for the tricones or other bit in the event the drill begins to go off center. This increase the life span of your drill bits no matter what kind you are using, tricones or otherwise.

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