There are two popular types of HSS or high-speed steel drill bits available: cobalt and titanium – coated drill bits. Learn the difference between the two and find out whether cobalt vs titanium drill bits are what you need for your project.
What are cobalt-type drill bits?
Cobalt-type drill bits are made from mixing a small amount of cobalt and steel or other kinds of alloy. Cobalt is mostly 5 to 7% of the material composition and because of this, the drill bit is very strong and very sharp.
Cobalt is an element that melts at 1495 degrees Celsius and has 2927 degrees Celsius boiling point and thus, it’s great for high temperatures and high–performance cutting.
Some characteristics of cobalt bits:
- These are very strong and can work even at higher speeds compared to regular HSS bits.
- These bits can work without the need for cooling or adding any cutting liquid.
- Cobalt bits can cut through very tough metals such as stainless steel, hardened metals, bronze, and titanium.
- Drill bits made of cobalt are of the best quality and will last longer compared to regular HSS bits.
- Cobalt bits are brittle and can easily break when not properly handled.
What are titanium drill bits?
Titanium drill bits are available in different forms, sizes, and shapes. Just like cobalt-type drill bits, titanium bits are not completely made from titanium but have a steel core. The titanium coating varies and is classified as
- TiN or titanium nitride – this type of titanium drill bit is very durable and very tough. These bits can withstand very high temperatures.
- TiAIN or titanium Al nitride – these bits are stronger than TiN and can improve the lifespan of your drill up to 5 times.
- TiCN or titanium carbonitride – this type of titanium drill bit is the toughest and works with machines that are prone to mechanical wear and tear. TiCN is so tough this is mostly used together with abrasive and adhesive materials.
Titanium bits can take up to 1500 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures. The titanium coating becomes a barrier shielding the steel core from other materials.
Some characteristics of titanium bits
- Titanium bits are very tough and will work with different tough materials.
- The titanium surface makes these bits very durable and will last longer compared to regular drill bits.
- Titanium bits will work on almost all kinds of wood and even on knotted or denser wood. You can use these bits on PVC and plastic, brass, aluminum, copper, and steel.
Cobalt vs titanium drill bits
Now that you have an idea of what titanium bits and cobalt bits are, let’s compare these using common drill bit features.
Needless to say, cobalt bits are tougher and stronger than titanium bits. Cobalt has a higher melting point and boiling point and thus can withstand extreme temperatures and environments. Cobalt can outlast other bits and can cut very tough materials. However, cobalt bits should be used only on the right materials as they can easily break if misused or mishandled.
Materials that you can use
Titanium bits are strong and thus can create holes on almost all types of wood including dense and knotted hardwoods. You can also use these bits on soft metals and plastics. However, cobalt blades are stronger and more durable and thus, can drill holes on tougher materials including cast iron and very strong metals.
You can use cobalt–made drill bits on wood but you might end up ruining or splitting the bit. It’s best to use only the recommended type of drill bit for a specific material.
The appearance of the drill bit
Cobalt bits have a dull gold color. Meanwhile, titanium bits have a slightly blue color but this may depend on the type of coating that the drill bit has. This means you can’t just rely on the color of the bit to distinguish cobalt from titanium bits.
Both drill bits are available in different sizes. There are different widths and lengths to choose from. The size you need will depend on the size or depth of the hole you want to create. This is why almost all electric drill manufacturers offer their power tools with a drill bit set. This is a set with a variety of drill bit sizes for different projects.
Type of bits
Both cobalt and titanium bits are available in different types. There are wood drill bits such as brad point bits, paddle bits, and auger bits. There are metal bits or HSS bits that can cut through metal or wood minus any overheating.
Multi-purpose bits are for cutting a variety of materials such as hard metal, plastic, ceramic, and wood. There are also specialty bits designed to work with specific tasks like drilling through the glass and other demanding tasks.
Cost of a drill bit set
Cobalt bits are more expensive than titanium bits but the will take a long time before you will change them and thus, these are more cost-efficient.
The lifespan of the metal
The lifespan of a drill bit will depend on its use, the material you’re cutting, and your drill bit maintenance. Cobalt bits will last a long time especially when it’s used correctly and maintained well. But if this bit is misused, you may end up breaking the bit and replacing it.
Meanwhile, titanium bits may last longer if these are used correctly and maintained well. You can’t sharpen titanium bits as you may only risk removing the titanium surface. When the titanium coating is removed, the bit will be more prone to wear and won’t be able to efficiently cut through wood and other materials.
When it comes to cobalt vs titanium drill bits, it’s a matter of choice. If you have the money to spare for an expensive cobalt bit set then this is a good choice. But if you’re only cutting wood or other lighter materials then a good quality titanium drill bit could be the best one for your project.