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HSS vs Cobalt vs Carbide Drill Bits: What To Choose

HSS vs Cobalt vs Carbide Drill Bits

When it comes to drilling, selecting drill bits is a difficult task. Drill bits come in a variety of shapes and sizes, as well as different coating materials and compositions, for various uses. The differences between high-speed steel (HSS), cobalt drill bits, and carbide drill bits are discussed in this article.

High-Speed Steel Or HSS Drill bits

High-speed steel or HSS drill bits are tough and heat resistant. HSS bits are extremely robust and durable due to the high concentrations of chromium and nickel in stainless steel. Hardwood, metals, PVC, and plastic can all be securely drilled with HSS drill bits. They're safe to run at high speeds (RPM) and give long-term performance if properly maintained.

HSS drill bits can get dull over time and require sharpening, which requires the use of specialized gear that aren't always available. If you're drilling with HSS drill bits for an extended period or at high RPMs, cutting fluid may be required to keep the bit cool.

Cobalt Drill Bits

Steel (or another alloy) is combined with a tiny quantity of cobalt, usually between 5 and 7 percent, to make cobalt bits. With a melting point of 1495°C and a boiling point of 2927°C, cobalt is ideal for high-temperature applications. 

Cobalt drill bits are extremely durable. They can drill at substantially faster speeds than a traditional HSS drill bit. Because of their heat resistance, cobalt bits can work for long periods without bothering to cool or use cutting fluid. They're commonly utilized to cut through tough or abrasive materials. Bronze, cast iron, stainless steel, and titanium are among the metals that cobalt bits can cut through.

A good grade cobalt bit's cutting edge should last longer than a conventional HSS bit's. They're corrosion-resistant, much like other HSS bits, so they'll keep their shape in any storage or use situation. Cobalt, on the other hand, can be fragile. If you don't take adequate care of your cobalt drill bits or if they're dropped, they can break, which can be pricey.

Carbide Drill Bits

Carbide drill bits are extremely hard, have a high heat dissipation rate, and can keep an edge for longer than other types of drill bits. It's brittle, like the cobalt drill bit, and could be broken up if used incorrectly. Carbide drill bits are the toughest and most brittle of all drill bits. Carbide-tipped bits are commonly used in stone and masonry drilling.

HSS Vs. Cobalt Vs. Carbide Drill Bits: Comparision


Hss Drill Bits

Cobalt Drill Bits

Carbide Drill Bits

Made Of

Carbon, tungsten, chromium, and cobalt with iron as a base material

Steel alloy with 5-8% cobalt

Tungsten carbide

Used For

Soft materials like wood, plastic, some metals, steel, brass

Hardened materials and abrasives including titanium, cast iron, bronze, and stainless steel

Hardest materials like concrete, stone, and masonry











Cheaper than carbide, expensive than HSS


Heat Resistance


More than HSS but less than Carbide drill bits

High resistance more than cobalt and HSS drill bits


Carbide drill bits are the toughest drill bits, however, they're only suitable for expert use. They are costly of the three drill bits. Cobalt drill bits are also used to drill tough and long-lasting materials. HSS is ideal for drilling soft and some hard materials.

Drill bit selection is critical. When choosing drill bits, keep the parameters and requirements of your job in mind.

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