While using a drill press might sound like a simple enough task, there are a lot of extra details that change the way you create holes in metal. In other words, one drill bit doesn’t always fit all.
With many drill bit options to choose from, one of our personal favorites here at Dake is the 3-flute drill bit.
In this post, we take a look at 3-flute drill bits and explain why you need them in your metalworking shop.
What Is a 3-Flute Drill Bit?
Various drill bit designs are used to achieve specific types of holes. A 3-flute drill bit is designed with a trio of cutting edges instead of only two. One of the reasons why these super cutters aren’t more popular among metalworkers is because chip evacuation can be a bit difficult.
Let’s look at a conventional twist drill for comparison. Known for its dual helical flutes, it is designed to remove chips as it drills deeper into the metal material. Offered in straight and tapered styles, it is a commonly used drill bit in the field.
However, 3-flute drill bits can achieve a smoother cut in a shorter amount of time. Featuring a new cutting-edge design, this speedy bit can reach a 50% higher feed rate per revolution (FRPR) for long-chipping actions with steel and even stainless steel. How is this possible? The spiral angle has been tweaked to perfection to allow fast drilling without compromising the quality of the hole.
This advancement in 3-flute drill bit shaping has been in the works for several decades. The first 3-flute design came into the market about 50 years ago, but it has only recently begun to gain traction in the metalworking community.
Once considered to be a poor choice for long-chipping due to the bit’s inability to remove metal chips from the hole, professionals avoided this drill bit style completely. The risk of the tool breaking or jamming was far too great…until now.
Advantages of Using a 3-Flute Drill Bit
Besides the restyling of the drill bit, there are a few other aspects of 3-flute tools that you should be aware of before you begin using them. Let’s go over some of the advantages of working with a 3-flute drill bit.
1. It Keeps the Work Area Clean
There is a lot of stigma surrounding the 3-flute drill bit because of its reputation for leaving behind messy holes. For this reason, we want to reiterate the fact that the newest 3-flute design will remove the metal chips during the drilling process.
The main edit to the drill bit was made to the shape of the point. Changing the geometry ever so slightly resulted in the sufficient removal of metal chips. It works by compressing the chips in the point geometry area.
2. It Is Much More Durable
Drilling holes into hard metal is a tough job. While no drill bit will last a lifetime, some will withstand the test of time a little bit better than others. Taking inspiration from the original 2-flute twist drill design (also sometimes referred to as “S-cutting edge), the new 3-flute drill bit features a convex cutting edge.
Created to lengthen the life expectancy of the drill bit, this convex cutting edge moves the force of the cutting action towards the cutting edge corner with the tool. This results in a more stabilized action.
For a quick comparison, let’s look at the opposite design known as the concave cutting edge. This style will leave the cutting edge corners more susceptible to damage. You might end up with broken corners.
3. It Is Twice as Fast
As we mentioned before, the 3-flute drill bit can easily achieve a 50% higher FRPR on average. Depending on the tool you are using, it could even reach a speed of 59% higher FRPR. But why is this drill bit so much faster than a conventional twist drill bit? The answer lies in the number of flutes.
The conventional twist drill bit has only two flutes. With the 3-flute design, 3 sharp cutting edges are simultaneously in contact with the metal material at all times. In this case, having more cutting edges working at the same time yields much better results.
4. It Requires Strong Vises
Since the 3-flute drill bit churns out holes at a much faster rate than conventional drill bits, that means that more feed force is produced.
For example, a 57% increase in the FRPR on alloy steel will result in a 40% increase in the feed force. Using regular steel as another example, a 50% higher FRPR will result in a greater feed force by 40%.
Since the feed force is so much higher, you will need to ensure that the metal materials are clamped tightly into position with vises. We also recommend low or medium speeds for high torque applications on thicker materials. This will keep the workspace stable and safe.
5. It Is Very Precise
Having a third cutting edge produces accurate holes and precise spot drilling. The drill bit is designed with 3 sharp cutting edges that run down the middle of the tool to form a point where they all meet. This chisel point style is known as a tetrahedrally-shaped point.
Compare that to a conventional twist drill bit that only has two flutes. Its design runs the two cutting edges down the tool to the point which creates a connected line. The result is that the conventional drill bit does not have a clear fixed point. Meeting the metal material at multiple points, the classic drill bit will cause wobbling. This leads to less accurate drilling.
Circling back to the 3-flute drill bit, it features a punctiform chisel point for precision spot drilling. After the drill bit has punctured the metal, it will keep itself centered for producing the perfect holes. It will not drift off to the side.
Order a Drill Press from Dake
If you are ready to take your metalworking shop to the next level, take a look at our drill press machines here at Dake. You can choose between bench models and floor models to find one that suits your workspace perfectly. We also have vises to keep your metal material securely in place. Get in touch with our team today to learn more about our products.