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A masonry type drill bit, designed for impact drilling in rock, fractured after a short time in service. Samples of the failed bit were analyzed using optical and scanning electron microscopy, quantitative metallography, and chemical analysis. The composition was found to be that of 18CrNi3Mo steel. Investigators also found evidence of inclusions and prior austenite grain size, although it was determined that neither played a role in the failure. Rather, according to test data, the failure occurred because of stress concentration (due to geometric discontinuities along the tooth profiles) and the cumulative effect of torque and force loading (the byproduct of continuous twisting and axial impact). Cracks readily initiate under these conditions then propagate quickly through what was found to be networks of tempered martensite, thus resulting in premature failure.

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