Seven Steps to Reducing Failure and Cycle Time
by Jason Wiggins
US Synthetic manufactures high quality polycrystalline diamond compacts (PDCs) used in
drilling for oil and natural gas. PDCs are manufactured with a sintering process that fuses
premium saw-grade industrial diamond crystals under a heat of approximately 3,000
degrees Farenheit and a pressure of about 1 million psi without actually melting them.
During the process, the fused diamonds are bonded to a tungsten carbide substrate.
These PDC's have been around since the mid-1970s, yet manufacturers continue to
experience some common problems, one being table breakage or delamination, the
separation of the diamond table from the substrate.
US Synthetic's failure rates have been small and customer satisfaction is high, but some
customers have reported failures on small numbers of cutters on drill bits while all of the
other cutters remain intact. While this doesn't make the bit useless, it slows down the
penetration and leads to an eventual loss of drilling time for costly tool withdrawal and
Resolution of this problem was turned over to the engineering team. In addition to the
PDC cutter failures facing the team, the manufacturing team was looking for a way to
reduce the time required to make the cutters. The reason for the cutter failures needed to
be determined of frequency and manufacturing time were to be reduced.
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