Drilling stainless steel can be challenging, despite the fact that it’s not the hardest type of metal. This metal is tough, durable and resistant to corrosion, making it a commonly used metal for manufacturing. It is used across many sectors, from automotive to construction and consumer goods.
The durability and toughness of this metal make it a good choice for manufacturing but these same qualities make it challenging for drilling. To get the best results when drilling stainless steel, you will need to have the right drill bits. You will also need to follow a few guidelines to drill safely and accurately.
Top Tips for Drilling Stainless Steel
This metal is an iron alloy containing small amounts of chromium, which creates a protective oxide layer on its surface. This layer is what prevents corrosion and increases heat resistance. Stainless steel also contains carbon, manganese and silicon, with some steels containing nickel that further prevents rust.
To get the most from drilling stainless steel, here are some tips to keep in mind.
Choose the right drill bits
It is essential to always use the correct drill bits for the material you are drilling. Trying to drill into metal with a regular multi-material drill will damage your bit, tool and material. The best drill bit to use for stainless steel is a High-Speed Steel (HSS) bit. These bits are designed to cut into extremely hard metals such as stainless steel. They have a unique shape with sharpened edges that helps them drill into metal efficiently. There are a few different types of HSS bits that you may use, depending on your project.
- Turbo HSS bits have a two-stage cutting action, making them ideal for high-performance drilling. The bits are precision ground with variable core thickness.
- Cobalt HSS bits are made for advanced drilling through materials such as stainless steel. These bits are also precision ground.
Perfect the speed and feed
The main reason that this metal can be difficult to work with is the risk of material hardening as you drill. You will need to make sure that you have a cutting speed and feed that is not too high. If you do not get this balance right, the stainless steel hardens. This makes it much harder to drill. It also increases the risk of breakage and other issues with your tools and drill bits.
If your drilling speed is too fast, there is a higher chance of steel heating and hardening. Slower drilling speeds are therefore needed to avoid over-heating. You will need to slow down your feed rates, too. High feed rates can reduce the effectiveness of your drill. It will also make it harder to remove chips as you drill. Maintaining a steady speed and feed rate will allow you to drill with optimal results.
Avoid heat build-up
Aside from maintaining the right balance with speed and feed, you can also prevent over-heating by drilling in stages. Cooling and lubricating as you go will greatly help to avoid heat build-up. Drilling in stages will allow your drill and the steel to cool.
Follow safety procedures
As with any other type of drilling, always follow safety procedures. Always wear protective gear to avoid hot chips of metal and sparks as you drill. Always wear gloves when handling the material, which will heat up significantly.
Ruwag offers a wide range of premium HSS drill bits that will help you get the most from your project. Shop online to find the best quality drill bits and take the challenge out of drilling stainless steel.