You are here

"In the modern era, the first roller cone patent was for the rotary rock bit and was issued to American businessman and inventor Howard Hughes Sr. in 1909. It consisted of two interlocking cones. American businessman Walter Benona Sharp worked very closely with Hughes in developing the rock bit. The success of this bit led to the founding of the Sharp-Hughes Tool Company. In 1933 two Hughes engineers, one of whom was Ralph Neuhaus, invented the tricone bit, which has three cones. The Hughes patent for the tricone bit lasted until 1951, after which other companies made similar bits. However, Hughes still held 40% of the world's drill bit market in 2000. The superior wear performance of PDC bits gradually eroded the dominance of roller cone bits and early in this century PDC drill bit revenues overtook those of roller cone bits. The technology of both bit types has advanced significantly to provide improved durability and rate of penetration of the rock. This has been driven by the economics of the industry, and by the change from the empirical approach of Hughes in the 1930s, to modern day domain Finite Element codes for both the hydraulic and cutter placement software."