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roller cone bit

1. n. [Drilling]

A tool designed to crush rock efficiently while incurring a minimal amount of wear on the cutting surfaces. Invented by Howard Hughes, the roller-cone bit has conical cutters or cones that have spiked teeth around them. As the drillstring is rotated, the bit cones roll along the bottom of the hole in a circle. As they roll, new teeth come in contact with the bottom of the hole, crushing the rock immediately below and around the bit tooth. As the cone rolls, the tooth then lifts off the bottom of the hole and a high-velocity fluid jet strikes the crushed rock chips to remove them from the bottom of the hole and up the annulus. As this occurs, another tooth makes contact with the bottom of the hole and creates new rock chips. Thus, the process of chipping the rock and removing the small rock chips with the fluid jets is continuous. The teeth intermesh on the cones, which helps clean the cones and enables larger teeth to be used. There are two main types of roller-cone bits, steel milled-tooth bits and carbide insert bits.

Alternate Form: roller cone bit

Photograph of roller-cone bit.
Photograph of roller-cone bit.

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