Are you looking for a comprehensive titanium vs cobalt drill bit guide?
Fantastic stuff – you are in the right place!
In this ToolsGaloreHQ.com guide you will learn:
- Key differences between the two
- Key similarities between cobalt and titanium drill bits
- When to use which type and under what conditions; and
- So much more!
Quick Summary Table: Titanium Vs Cobalt Drill Bits
TITANIUM DRILL BITS
COBALT DRILL BITS
Typically a shiny gold/blue color/Grey color
High Speed Drilling
Better than HSS
Best (Better than Titanium Drill Bits and HSS)
Best Used For
Drilling into softer materials such as wood, soft metals and plastics
great for hard metals and cast iron
Titanium Drill Bits
This is part of the family of high speed steel (HSS) drill bits.
As an intro HSS bits are specifically designed to be heat resistant. Plus they are made by coupling varying concentrations of different elements such as nickel and chrome into stainless steel.
This gives the high speed drill bit it’s characteristic strength and durability.
The Titanium Drill bit on the other hand is practically steel coated with Titanium. This coating provides for many additional enhancements over and above your typical HSS drill bits.
There are typically three types of Titanium coatings. These include:
- Titanium Nitride
- Titanium Carbonitride; or
- Titanium Aluminum Nitride.
Let’s analyze each of these specific coatings in a bit more detail
Titanium Nitride (TiN)
TiN has been used industrially to improve the friction, hardness and wear resistance of substrate material for some time. These qualities have lent it to work extremely well on drill bits as well.
The Titanium Nitride is generally applied onto the drill bit via the use of a magnetic spluttering system. The high speed drill bit undergoes pre and post cleaning to ensure that the metal is hard coated correctly without any blemishes.
This entire process leads to an improved microhardness of between 2000 to 2500 HVM and a general reduction in the friction co-efficient of between 0.1 and 0.2.
In fact various scientific journal and publications have stated that simply applying an additional layer of about 1 – 2 µm of TiN coating, could improve the overall wear resistance and extend the useful life of the drill bit.
Titanium Carbonitride (TiCN)
TiCN is made up of a chemical compound that includes titanium, carbon and nitrogren.
It generally has a nano-hardness all the way up to about 32 GPA. On drill bits the coating layer is usually between 1 to 4 µm in thickness, having a friction coefficient in the range of about 0.2 µm.
What is key to know is that TiCN coating is generally better than Titanium Nitride (TiN) coating. Its harder overall and it tends to provide a higher degree of wear resistance.
Titanium Carbonitride drill bits generally maintain their physical characteristics up to about 400°C and can be used for drilling into medium to hard metals as well as softer materials.
Titanium Aluminum Nitride (TiAlN)
TiAlN just like the previous two Titanium Nitride and Titanium Carbonitride is a universally applicable coating that is applied all round the drill bit.
As the elements dictate, it is made from a combination of Titanium, Aluminum and Nitride.
Generally when applied to a drill bit the coating thickness is about 1 to 4 µm.
This specific formulation tends to work very well in high speed cutting applications and it has been stated that the TiAlN coating can increase the useful life of the drill bit by up to 10x the usual service life.
It usually comes in a grey colored coating and is very well suited for cutting hard metals like steel, brass and bronze.
TiAlN can withstand temperatures up to about 800°C (1450°F). What this translates to is the ability to utilize the drill bit at much higher cutting speeds, which in turn increases overall productivity.
The TiAlN drill bit is the best amongst the 3 titanium drill bits. However it is also the most expensive.
Cobalt Drill Bit
Cobalt drill bits are designed to be very hard in their material composition. Unlike it’s titanium counterpart, this drill bit is actually made from a mixture of cobalt and steel, and not just a coating layer like the Titanium drill bits.
Now it must be noted that the entire drill bit is not made from cobalt and usually when looking at the entire composition of the metallic alloy you will find a range of about 5% to 8% of Cobalt.
Due to this metallic alloy characteristic. Cobalt drill bits are a lot tougher in their overall make-up as opposed to titanium drill bits.
Therefore cobalt drill bits are extremely useful for cutting through hard metal and steel.
Their increased hardness make them fantastic for high speed applications as well. They also have the additional characteristic of being corrosion resistant. Making the cobalt drill immune to deformation when used during it’s normal operation.
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Key Differences: Titanium vs Cobalt Drill Bit
Now that you are well aware of the distinct qualities of each drill bit. Let’s delve a bit deeper and analyze critical differences that I believe are worth noting:
- Titanium drill bits are made from steel, however they are coated with Titanium Nitride, Titanium Carbonitride or Titanium Aluminum Nitride. On the other hand your Cobalt drill bit is not coated but rather is a metallic alloy that is a mixture between metal and cobalt.
- Titanium drill bits tend to work better on softer materials, such as soft metals, plastics and wood. Whereby the Cobalt drill bits are more suited for harder materials such as your hard metals or cast iron.
- Cobalt drill bits are also more resilient at higher speeds, as compared to the Titanium drill bits and can withstand higher temperatures without deforming.
- Due to the fact that Titanium drill bits are coated, this coating can wear off – fundamentally changing the chemical and mechanical properties of the drill bit. Cobalt drill bits are a mixture and therefore not at risk of changing composition as they are being used. For this reason Cobalt drill bits have a longer useful life than their Titanium counterparts.
- Cobalt drill bits are more expensive than Titanium Drill bits.
Key Similarities: Titanium vs Cobalt Drill Bit
Both of these drill bit types do however have key similarities.
- They are both better than your standard high speed steel drill bit. No matter the material be it wood, metal or plastic.
- The addition or coating of cobalt/titanium respectively fundamentally improves the mechanical and heat resistant properties of both drill bits.
- Both drill bits are relatively long lasting, especially when looked at or compared with high speed steel drill bits.
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Tips To Care For Your Titanium or Cobalt Drill Bit
To really get the most out of any drill bit, it’s important that you follow best practices and take care of your drill bit the best that you can.
Here are some really simple and easy to follow tips that will help go a long way in keep your drill bits healthier for longer.
- Pre and post usage be sure to remove any debris that may have accumulated especially within the flutes. If you do not remove debris this can cause long term corrosive effects that reduce the efficacy of your drill bit.
- Store your drill bits in a cool, dry environment that has a relative humidity between 45% to 55%. This prevents the accumulation of moisture which can encourage rust over the long term.
- Always check the datasheet and use drill bits for their intended purposes
Final Thoughts Titanium vs Cobalt Drill Bit
I had a lot of fun creating this article, and I hope this has provided a good overview of the differences between titanium and cobalt.
Furthermore be sure to take care of your tools and drill bits this is especially important for high performance drill bits such as your titanium or cobalt types.
The better you store and manage them over their entire lifetime, the better they will perform overall. All the best and happy tooling.