Drilling Comparison: Ferrous and Non-Ferrous Metals

November 14, 2022

Ferrous and Non-Ferrous Metals

The design, make-up, and type of material they will drill all affect how well the drill bits work. Which drill bit is suitable for a given material, such as steel, copper, zinc, aluminum, brass, etc., depends on various criteria. This is primarily because ferrous metals, as opposed to non-ferrous metals, have specific properties.

Properties Of Ferrous And Non-Ferrous Metals

Ferrous Metals

Iron-containing metals are known as ferrous metals. Some are stainless, high-speed, high-carbon, and cast iron steel. The tensile strength of ferrous metals is often more significant than non-ferrous metals. Because of this quality, they are a wise choice of structural and design construction materials. When choosing a drill bit, tooling designers must consider the materials' tenacity and hardness.

Non-Ferrous Metals

Non-ferrous metals, particularly copper, lead, zinc, and brass, fill specific voids in the industrial and construction sectors. They work well in situations with dampness, causing ferrous metals to oxidize. You can use them for electrical components.

Characteristics Of Ferrous And Non-Ferrous Metals

Manufacturers of drill bits employ the following variations to adjust their products to the various hardnesses and characteristics of the work materials:

Points and Angles

Points and angles drilling is a good fit for most applications; it can work with standard points with most "soft" steels and non-ferrous metals. You can cut these materials with standard 135-degree split-point drills and tougher steel alloys. You can change drill bit points to produce better centering, beginning, and quality holes.


Flutes provide two primary functions:

  • To take the chips of cut material out of the hole.
  • Let oil or coolant circulate throughout the drill bit's whole body to finish cooling it.

We can choose the flute size and shape by considering the type of material to drill. You can use bits to drill hard ferrous metals at slower speeds than you would with non-ferrous metals. Since the chips are less flexible, the spiral of the flute usually moves more slowly. Additionally, the slower spiral provides more stiffness at the drill's tip, strengthening the angle.

You may work non-ferrous metals more quickly and with less chance of breaking. Unlike microscopic chips on hard metals, the material's chip appears as a spring or string. Wider grooves are necessary to prevent this long debris from sticking.


Carbon steel is ineffective for drilling through metals. Drill bits must be made of more rigid material to cut dense materials. No matter how delicate the metal is, one of the following is necessary to cut it: Solid Carbide, High-Speed Steel (H.S.S.), or Carbide Tip. Due to its low price and effective cutting capabilities on soft metals like copper, zinc, aluminum, and other non-ferrous carbon steel, H.S.S. is frequently utilized. The tool will last longer if you use an alloy of HSS and 5 to 8% cobalt since the edge will be more durable. Cast iron, tempered steel, and some titanium alloys can benefit from this alloy.

You can significantly enhance speed and wear resistance by using carbide drill bits. HSS drill bits with a carbide tip are an affordable alternative to solid carbide and work well in non-ferrous metals and other abrasive materials. They are suitable for high-volume applications in stainless steel or other vital alloy parts and can withstand very high temperatures.

For high-quality production and long tool life, it is essential to comprehend the properties of ferrous and non-ferrous metals and what twist drill is most suitable for each material.

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