Challenging drilling applications and low oil prices have created a new emphasis on innovation in the industry. This research investigates the value of drill bit based force sensing at the rock-cutter interface. For this purpose, a laboratory-based mini-rig has been built in order to recreate a scaled drilling process. The work aims to build a better understanding of the collected force and torque data despite the semi-continuous drilling process. This data is then used to estimate the formation strength.
A scaled drill bit with two cutters was designed with sensors integrated into the drill bit cutter, drill string and the mini-rig structure. The mini-rig design allowed the accurate control of depth of cut by utilizing a comprehensive data acquisition and control system during the experiments. Initially, fifty-five samples were prepared with various water/gypsum ratios for a uniaxial compression test, scratch test, and for testing in the mini-rig. Prior to the mini-rig experiments, the results of the uniaxial compression and scratch tests were used as a benchmark to extract rock properties and the state of stress behavior.
The experiments under atmospheric conditions revealed that the mini-rig could accurately estimate formation strength from a few rotations. The force data at the bit-rock interface was correlated with the torque measurements, and the results indicate that the tangential force has similar trends and relatively similar values.
The groove created by the drill bit's rotating trajectory has a 14.45 cm circumference. This allows for a significant amount of data to be captured from a single rotation. The circular cutter geometry's influence is crucial for a continuous process since the active cutting area is continuously changing due to the pre-cut groove. The performed depth of cuts ranged from 0.1 to 1 mm in the same groove, and thus the active cutting area can be accurately calculated in real-time while conducting the experiments.
Tangential and normal force data from the scratch test was analyzed in order to provide insights for correlation with the mini-rig data. The analysis shows that both tests give similar trends to the force measurements from the mini-rig. Moreover, the benchmark value of formation strength that was obtained from the uniaxial compression test was also in the same range. This illustrates the potential viability of drill bit based formation strength measurement due to the similarity between mini-rig test results and those using more classical testing practices.
The experimental setup can provide a continuous cutting process that allows an accurate estimation of formation strength during a semi-continuous drilling operation with analogous application in the field. This can lead to an in-depth understanding of drilled formation properties while drilling and possibly assist in evaluating cutter wear state in-situ.