Several simulations of rock cutting at great depth by a single PDC cutter were carried out using the finite element method. They proved of great help in understanding the failure mechanisms inside the rock that are determinant for cutting efficiency. Shear bands, i.e. weaker regions along which a chip will develop, are successfully detected and localised using two different criteria, including an original one based on the evolution of strains during the cutting process. As classical finite element meshes lock the actual progression of shear bands, remeshing techniques are developed and applied so as to model the effective formation of chips into the rock. Automation of the different steps will result in a very useful numerical tool for optimisation in well-boring.

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