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Modern rock drills solve tough customer challenges

A Sandvik rock drill bit typically lasts for several hundred meters of drilling before it's time to exchange it. But when a mining company in northern Sweden started mining for gold, the drill bit more or less exploded after just a few decimeters. The rock was extremely hard and abrasive – a true challenge for any tool on the market.

Top center drill bit
Raised front is key in our design of Sandvik's new top center drill bit, giving room for more gauge buttons and improving rock breaking.

The customer turned to Sandvik who took on the challenge to develop an extraordinary tool, both tough and extremely wear-resistant.

"The customer asked for a drill bit that could drill one rod length, which is four meters – more than ten times the length it was capable of when they came to us," says Christer Lundberg, Product Manager Rock Tools Tunneling, at Sandvik.

Producing a drill bit that can last for four meters is not usually a demanding task, but in this instance the R&D team at Sandvik had to develop something extraordinary. A new bit design and Sandvik’s unique cemented carbide DP 65 solved the problem.

Our customers know that we will go the extra mile to improve their productivity

The R&D team continued to develop the drill bit and a completely new product, the top center drill bit, was recently launched, based on the lessons learned from the project in northern Sweden. The top center drill bit is now a standard product that can be used by all customers facing tool life challenges.

More powerful drills

Sandvik has a proud history of providing rock drilling solutions to customers around the world, making drilling safer and more efficient. Christer Lundberg mentions the R- and T-threads developed respectively in the 1950s and 1970s. These innovations made it possible to connect rods to each other and to drill more than one rod length at a time.

“These threads really improved productivity in the mines and later became industry standards,” he explains.

Modern rock drills are becoming more and more powerful. For Sandvik, this means that tools for these drills have to follow that development. Setting industry standards and continuously challenging them is the recipe for Sandvik's success.

"Our customers can always rely on the quality of our tools and know that we will go the extra mile to improve their productivity with new tools and standards, says Lundberg."

Sandvik Alpha, a further development of the R32 thread, meets the increased energy output, delivering straighter holes, higher penetration rates and longer rod life. Last year, Sandvik sold more Sandvik Alpha tool systems than the R32 standard.

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